Dust removal with household vacuum cleaner?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by underground, Jul 27, 2008.

  1. Hello!

    This is not a joking question if someone believes that: is it possible to remove dust from CMOS/CCD using a
    standard household vacuum cleaner?

    Sometimes I find it difficult to remove dust with satisfaction from CMOS/CCD using a camera air blower. Why not
    use a vacuum cleaner instead? The extension tube on a standard household vacuum cleaner should fit perfect to
    gently hold infront of the lens mount of the camera body? This procedure should even work on camera lenses as far
    as I'm concerned. Has anyone here tried this yet?


    / Fredrik
  2. I'm waiting to hear the result after you try it. :)
  3. Just to clarify: is this with the vacuum set to suck or blow?

    I use an old vacuum with blow capability to de-dust our computers periodically. It is quite effective. There's obviously no propellant danger, per canned air, but there may be fine dust being driven at whatever it is you are working on, not sure.
  4. Mendel,

    I'm thinking it would be best to let the vacuum cleaner suck, just to avoid blowing in more dust. Do you think this could do any harm to the components inside? Of course the extension tube of the vacuum cleaner will not be in physical contact with the camera components at all.
  5. I'm not going to try it with my camera. if you want to try it on yours, i'll be interested to hear how this works out for you. There might actually be some contact between the vacuum hose and some camera components, if those components go flying up the hose into the vacuum cleaner.
  6. What works _really_ well for me is the combination of a bulb blower and a sensor brush. I can usually get the thing virtually
    spotless in perhaps two minutes time.

  7. Not only will a household vacuum cleaner remove the dust, it can also suck the shutter blades right out of the camera.

    Probably not exactly what you wanted.
  8. Yeah, I'm with Bob here. If you accidentally wander too close and the nozzle forms a bit of a suction on or in the lens
    mount, there negative air pressure will likely be so great that I'd seriously worry about some sort of little component being
    sucked right into the vacuum.

    Also, maybe it's just me, but I definitely would not use a standard household vacuum of any sort to blow into anything like
    that, either. Vacuums typically collect lots and lots of dirt and dust, and you can never be sure how much of those millions
    of particles will find their way back OUT of the hose/vacuum when blowing.
  9. And if it doesn't suck out the shutter blades, may be it gets primary or secondary mirror. (In the best case, something is disaligned after that treatment.)
  10. It sounds outrageous cleaning your expensive DSLR with a household vacuum cleaner, but if the could invent a miniature version of a vacuum cleaner it might work !
  11. You now have started me thinking, a risky thing to do. I have a Shop Vac Micro Cleaning Kit. What if I wrapped a pec pad around the small brush, added a few drops of eclipse cleaning fluid? Maybe start to clean before turning on the vacuum. Any thoughts?

  12. I have a small Sharper Image vacuum with a ~1.25" diameter hose that I have clamped in a Panavise. It leaves the hose about 2 inches from the lens mount so that there's no danger of damaging the shutter curtains but any dust that is blown out using my rocket bulb is sucked away and not able to find it's way back into the shutter box. I also use this vacuum, with a small brush attachment, to clean the viewfinder and button area of my poorly sealed 5D and my lenses. I've never had a problem using it as a "dust evacuation" tool but I wouldn't go sticking the hose anywhere near the shutter.

    Under most circumstances, I just use my bulb blower but I have been caught in more than one dust storm with my 5D and a non-L lens.
  13. OK, thanks for all the answers, everybody! I have bad experience using a sensor brush, leaving (fat)marks on the sensor, so I don't use that anymore. Blower is OK, but sometimes it doesn't help if the dust particles are heavily stucked.

    Concerning the risk of sucking the shutter blades out, you can easily adjust the sucking force by keeping a relevant distance from the lens mount of the camera body when sucking.

    Maybe I'm crazy after all? ;o)
  14. Just be sure to record it all on video....
  15. You might want to try one of these...


    I don't have a dslr to use it on, but it works good on tiny fragile things.

  16. Ok let's be careful out there, take one fat drinking straw from any burger bar chain, gaffer tape it to the VC nozzle, turn vacuum to lowest setting and very, very, carefully, set about your expensive camera. I actually read this in a letter to
    Canon's own magazine, with a disclaimer obviously, but I use it along side a sensor brush and it works, particularly to
    remove dust from the mirror box.
  17. If you are getting "(fat) marks on the sensor" with your sensor brush, you may be using it wrong. First, you use it very
    lightly along the sensor glass surface after "charging" it with some air blown from the bulb blower. Second, you keep it
    away from non-sensor components in the chamber. Third, if you do get it dirty you need to carefully clean it with a bit of
    soapy water and then fully rinse and dry it. Finally, if you did "smear" your sensor you can fix this with Eclipse and
    PecPads or similar.

    I think you are way off base with your idea of sticking vacuum cleaner in there, on multiple counts. First, as you suck
    out air from the chamber you will also draw in an equal (and fairly large considering what a vacuum can do) amount of
    dust laden air from outside the chamber. Second, you are creating some additional risk to the chamber and its relatively
    fragile components that are quite unnecessary.

    But please do videotape this. Photographers around the world may make you a youtube star if things go badly wrong...
  18. If you hear a strange "Gloop!" or other curious noise during this procedure, please do let us know. We're all ears.

  19. I've done it, but mostly for the exterior of the camera, not directly for sensor cleaning.

    You just have to be very careful not to get the vacuum too close. So I use a brush attachment.

    For sensor cleaning, I have used the vacuum with the nozzle near the camera, while using a bulb blower in the camera. That way, any dust I kicked up with the blower would tend to be pulled away by the vacuum. It's not direct use of the vacuum on the sensor though. I wouldn't do that.

    Note, there are some special low power vacuums around, that might be more directly usable. I've seen them being sold for sensor cleaning.
  20. http://youtube.com/watch?v=z2ok3p8WHII

    Worked for that guy :).
  21. "is it possible to remove dust from CMOS/CCD using a standard household vacuum cleaner? "

    Yes It's certainly POSSIBLE................
    I wouldn't try it......................
    I love my camera too much for that................
  22. I did it to my original rebel and it sucked the blades up! as soon as I reset it, the shutter kept on a continues shoot even without the CF card installed. I kept getting error 99 as well. The camera was no longer usable so I called Canon and they suggested I send them the camera. Although it was outside of the warranty, they fixed it and sent it to me in a week at no charge. Now I use sensor swab only and it woks flawlessly. v/r Raz
  23. Don't know if it's been mentioned but there are mini tool sets available for vacuums, typically for tasks like getting the
    dust out of keyboards and similar.
  24. "I have a small Sharper Image vacuum with a ~1.25" diameter hose that I have clamped in a Panavise"

    Can you give us a link to this small vaccum although Sharper Image is now out of business ?
  25. Try running a vacuum while shining a bright light across the exhaust port in a darkened room. You'll be amazed how much dust gets past the filter bag. Now imagine doing any procedure on your camera's sensor with all that dust in the air. I somehow doubt a vacuum would help to whisk away dust liberated with a sensor brush or bulb blower. We're talking about a few specks of dust vs. a room full of particulate debris. The only way I can see a vacuum being of any help would be with a central vac (which exhausts to the outside of the house). Even then I would think the contribution would be minimal.
  26. I have done this and will do it again, using a 1000W vacuum cleaner. But you should be very carefull, don't come nearer then 15cm (6 inches) to your camera, otherwise thinks can happen where we are afraid of. If it is dirty you can try it (make it save at 25cm=10 inches), if it does not help you can start the other methods.
    In this way you can remove dust and so on, the forces on your inside parts are minimal in this way. Dust and other parts that stick inside your camera won't always be removed. DON'T get closer with your vacuum cleaner, and be sure you measure well.
  27. Mmm. I wonder if you just held it upside down and tapped it with a carpenter's hammer if that would get the dust off that the automatic dust clean doesn't. If you were afraid of damaging the camera you could just tap it lightly more often. Can any body tell me if I need a bigger hammer for a full frame camera or will the crop sensor carpenter's hammer suffice with a bit more impact. And maybe a little blowtorch would burn the dust off that the hammer didn't dislodge.
    Man, that camera cost over a thousand dollars, a weeks work for some of us, some little asian fellow slaved hours to invent and produce such marvels as auto focus, auto exposure, 10 megapixel sensors and micro computers more powerful than those used on moon missions and some body wants to connect it up to a 1000 watt vacuum cleaner. I give up.
  28. "Don't know if it's been mentioned but there are mini tool sets available for vacuums, typically for tasks like getting the dust out of keyboards and similar."

    I bought one of these for just this purpose. What a waste of $15! That thing really sucked.

    Well, actually, no, it didn't.
  29. What a bunch of non sense. I use a vacuum cleaner ALL the time.

    However, it's one of those that passes dust through water so no dust is blown back into the room.

    The procedure is as follow:

    Place the camera on a tripod with the lens pointing at an angle to the ground.
    With one hand holding the vacuum near the opening and underneath the camera, brush the sensor with the other hand
    10 or 20 times using just about any soft brush.

    I do this about once a month and have done so for 3 years! It's a non issue.
  30. Actually Neill f not far of, Put in sensor clean mode, hold upside down and place a vibrator on the hot shoe/ should shake the dust of. Heard about it never seen it done. Maybe a 12v car vacuum another option (I wouldn`t tho)?
  31. Reminds me of the "Darwin" awards - the top 10 most amusing ways people end up killing themselves mostly by doing
    very stupid, albeit sometimes accidental, things. How to screw up your camera in a few easy steps......

    I don't understand all the fuss about dirt on the sensor (filter). Use a blower, then use a wet cleaning method
    such as Eclipse fluid for anything stubborn. Its very quick and works every time, no worries at all!
  32. The main reason I would not use this method is because when the VC sucks in air from the mirror box, at the same time, air is drawn in from the room. If this air which is drawn into the mirror box contains dust, you may introduce new dust...
    I just use a blower for normal cleaning and only when really needed I use a dry bursh cleaning. This worked perfectly until now...
  33. Reminds me of the "Darwin" awards - the top 10 most amusing ways people end up killing themselves mostly by doing very stupid, albeit sometimes accidental, things. How to screw up your camera in a few easy steps...... I was thinking the same thing. One should be started, if not on photo.net, then somewhere. It should also include running your camera and lenses through the dishwasher for a nice clean.
  34. sbp


    Lots of good reasons above why not to try this. Here's a NEW one. Vacuum cleaners create a significant amount of static
    electricity when they operate. Either by direct contact with the nozzle, or by arcing, you run the risk of transferring this
    static charge to the uncharged object (your camera). The sensitive electronics in modern digital cameras do not react well
    to static discharge.
  35. Steve, you said it. Electrostatic discharge as little as 5v (we don't even notice <20v) can kill the itty bitty circuit pathways in the chips on your camera..ha finally that ESD training at work pays off! Anyway, it's not a good idea to use a vacuum on any kind of circuit board because of the build-up of static electricity. Especially a standard household vacuum.
  36. What an interesting thread. In actual vacuums settup for cleaning optical and precision electrical items the hose is a small tube; NOT the one you use on the household unit. The hose end has many different tips, the bulk of tube end is grounded if its for electronic items; the last part insualted so one doesnt short a trace on a circuit board. One might also have a small filter to catch a wayward loose microscrew; with the filter on each cleanbench. The manifold of vacuum supply runs from bench to bench and directs the crap outside the repair area/cleanroom bench area.In pro work the crud is vacuumed. In amateur work folks use canned air; which just moves the crap to another place. Also canned air if the cheapie stuff leaves crap; thats why its a lower cost can. The problem with a home attempt is no thought might be going on; one sucks the shutter curtains; or one uses a giant household hose with no flow rate adjust; one causes static; hits ones sensor. Just like fooling with the registry on a computer; or using a skil saw; or developing film some folks will have poor habits and get in trouble. Micro Vacuuming of items may not remove pesky dust; it gets stuck; ie almost glued. A small item has alot of surface area to its weight than a bigger item. A household vacuum can be used to make a nice micro vacuum; the trouble is that folks do not care about static issues, having too much airflow by the dinky item; or care about the filthy dust that spues out of the rear of the vacuum back into your work area.
  37. Its interesting how folks mention static being an issue with a vacuum; but do not mention canned air. Static problems can arise either way the air is flowing; the simpleton brain might not understand this.:)
  38. If you want a save vacuum cleaner for your camera, check http://www.green-clean.at/index.php?id=16&L=1. I use it to vacuum the lens-mount, and other none-optical parts of the camera. For cleaning the mirror and sensor I only use a hand-blower (Giotto). Luckily I've not yet encountered any dirt I couldn't blow away...

    Cheers! Stefan.
  39. Strange about static, but it is static that holds dust to the sensor filter in the 1st place?. Sensor clean mode de sensitizes it. must be small charge tho :)
  40. Hi, The closest I would ever place the vacuum cleaner noozle would be about arms length to create a draft
    that would draw any dust blown out of the camera towards the vacuum cleaner...and that's it. Your DSLR should be
    treated like an instrument when you get as far as removing the lens and exposing the sensor. regards Bob.
  41. It just amazes me to be the fortieth post on a topic where a simple and easy solution already exists - use a brush and a
    bulb blower. Takes about a minute or two and almost always gets my sensor glass completely clean. No fuss, no muss.
  42. we get these mini vacs (vacuum cleaners) that have a very soft blowing and sucking power. They are very gentle. I use them to suck the dust.
  43. Unless you're in a clean room, wouldn't sucking dust off the sensor also suck in more dusty air?
  44. Funny, but prior to reading this thread, I spent time just this morning cleaning the sensors on my D70 and D300. For the record, there's no way in hell that I'd try to do this with a vacuum. My process is to first use a blower, followed by a Sensor Brush (8mm). I blow canned air through the bristles after each swipe on the sensor. By wearing a camping headlamp & +2.25 reading glasses, I can generally see most bigger dust particles. I check my results by shooting a few photos of a sheet of paper in a well lit area. My entire background is white. I set my camera at ISO200, F/16 and over-expose by one stop or more. Then I open the images in PS and run Auto Levels. If I have to go back in (and I did today), then I go the Sensor Swab/ Eclipse 2 route and re-check my results. I've yet to get my sensors 100% dust or pollen free but then I try not to get too anal about it either. What's left doesn't show up on my pictures. It takes me about an hour and a half to do both cameras. No argument that this is a chore, but it is a necessary evil with the current technology. Who knows, in the future one might not have to perform this task. But for now at least, it's a periodic must do.
  45. That idea sucks

  46. Oh NO. Please don't tell me you are seriously considering this. You'll destroy the camera.

    I can understand why you ask. But the force is so great that you will bend things or suck op the sensor, or you will get more dust IN than OUT, and that would be the best scenario.

  47. Use a Dyson! It never loses suction!
  48. "is it possible to remove dust from CMOS/CCD using a standard household vacuum cleaner?"

    I think the question you really want to ask is:

    Is it possible to retrieve a sensor from a standard household vacuum cleaner?
  49. I was once on holidays and a huge dust spec found a cousy home on my sensor. With no tools to clean it, I
    improvised and removed it with a common straw and my mouth as vaccum (yes, I know I sucked :)
    ((Just make sure you wipe off all the cocktail before putting the straw into the camera.... ;-))
    -greetz, Gerard.
  50. One word...............................YIKES !
  51. les


    Actually, my 1D MkII survived the vacuum cleaner operation, no problems.
    How was this done ?
    I bought a 3 m of 3/8"polyethylene tubing. One end into the vacuum cleaner hose, with toilet paper (!) as a seal around it. The other end was a) serrated with a pocket knife to avoid sucking onto the sensor and b) wrapped in a lens cleaning tissue, with some holes produced with a large diameter needle.

    During the operation, the business end of the device was held couple of milimeters off the sensor, with occassional touching the sensor (OK, I know that technically it is a filter). Worked as a charm.
  52. Wow, this seems to be a controversial subject! *lol*

    Reading this thread, there are quite a few that obviously have succeeded cleaning the camera using a household
    vacuum cleaner. Hmm, who to believe in this issue - the ones who says it works fine or those who think it sucks?

    At the moment I'm pretty confused. Yesterday I had my second parking ticket in a short period of time on my old
    classic Vespa. 1400 swedish kronor (a bit more than 200 USD) - money that I would prefer using on professional
    camera cleaning instead. Now I just have to do it myself...


    / Fredrik, a very poor photographer at the moment...
  53. Ok, first let me say that I no longer use this setup, not because it didn't work but because I realized that I live just a couple miles from the Canon Service Center in Southern California and they clean my sensors for free, usually same day. Now for Harry. As you stated, Sharper Image is now out of business and I bought the vacuum at a garage sale four years ago but I will look for a link or at least see if I can find a model number so you can look for it on the bay. The vacuum is designed for use in a car and it's quite small. I modified a Hepa filter bag that I got at Home Depot to fit the vacuum and I ported the exhaust through another filter with a diffuser. I also used a foam diffuser on the suction end. In addition, the vacuum motor was located 25 feet from the bench that I actually use to clean my camera and other electronics which addresses some of Sarah's concerns about recirculated dust. And finally, for Steve and Carl, the vacuum hose is grounded at the suction end using a standard 3M wrist strap modified to fit over the end of the hose.

    I don't think the idea here was ever to stick the nozzle in the mirror box but rather to use the vacuum suction at a safe distance to remove the dust stirred up from a bulb blower so that it doesn't settle back in the mirror box. I still use the vacuum with a small brush attachment (and the grounding strap) to clean the exterior of my bodies and lenses.

    I set about making this system after I saw something like it being used at a watch repair shop. The technician was using something very similar (but somewhat more professional looking) to prevent dust from settling on the face of a watch while replacing the crystal.
  54. You are all missing the obvious solution. I have a couple of snails in my aquarium that slide along the glass and suck off the algae. When my sensor gets dirty, I just grab one out of the aquarium, stuff it inside the camera, put the body cap on for hour and presto I have a spotless sensor. It is threads like this that keep me coming back to PN.
  55. GungaJim Downs > Great idea! But don't they leave smudging "snail tracks" on the sensor? You mean this is a safer method than using a household vacuum cleaner? Btw, where do you buy those camera snails?
  56. Could this be something? Only $3.99!


    "Formulated for use on precision instruments, equipment and components"

    "Safely cleans plastic surfaces, magnetic and paper tape components"

    "Effectively removes dust, lint, and light oil from tape heads, tuners,and sensitive equipment"


    "Cleans and degreases points, contacts, switches, relays, plugs, printedcircuits and diagnostic test equipment"

    "Evaporates quickly and completely"

    "Harmless to most plastics"

    "Leaves no residue"

    "Contains no CFCs or chlorinated solvents"

    "Authorized for use in federally-inspected meat and poultry plants"
  57. "Hmm, who to believe in this issue - the ones who says it works fine or those who think it sucks?"

    Of course it sucks! It's a vacuum cleaner!
  58. Use the rocket blower. Use may have to blast it 50 times but it works.
  59. Jan suggested using a Dyson. I'd second this as it has other advantages too - they are fitted with HEPA filters that basically mean there is no dust exiting the machine, and they have a clear bagless cylinder so you can see the bits of camera that have been accidentally sucked out. You can get these out of the cylinder, give them a quick rinse off under the tap, and refit. Job done!
  60. You're ALLLLLLLLLL wrong, using a vacuum cleaner to clean your DSLR is simply ridiculous!.. I stuck my 1D mkIII through the car wash the other day, and there ain't a spec of dust on my sensor. Much better than Dysons.. (He's English y'know.)
  61. Thats good Adrian...funny.

    So how long do ya'll think this thread could go?

    I was just thinkin'....

  62. The Kirby vacuum cleaner is the answer! These are able to do just about everything around the house, used to even come
    with a spray paint attachment. I wondered if the newer models are fitted with an attachment to clean the sensors so I
    checked. A "micro vacuum attachment kit" is available. It contains specialty attachments designed to meet specific,
    challenging cleaning problems. Products include extra-long power cords and hoses, as well as mini attachments for small
    detail cleaning.

  63. If you do this on a regular basis the buildup of mirrors & shutter blades may clog your vacuum.
  64. I use a household vacuum all the time and it works great. (but I take no responsibility for your results)
    Wash and dry your hands (to make them dust free)
    hold the end of the vacuum hose with your pointer and thumb (so that the end of the hose does not protrude beyond your hand).
    hold the camera, lens mount facing down.
    with the mirror down (first) Hold the vacuum hose about .25-.5" from the lens mount. This will cause air to swirl around your hands (which is why you washed them), into the mirror chamber and into the hose. This will loosen most dust and remove it.
    you will know if you are getting too close if the vacuum starts to pull up on the mirror. You don't ever want to get the hose too close, but there needs to be enough room for air to enter the chamber.
    Once you've cleaned it out with the mirror down, lock up the mirror and repeat to clean the loose dust from the sensor.
    Only stubborn stuck on stuff will remain.
    Works great, better than blower brush, cheaper than sensor swabs (which I still use if the sensor dirt is stuck on). Never had a problem, but I don't garauntee that you won't--so take my advice carefully)

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