Cleaning slides

Hi All,

A couple of years ago I spent December and January scanning 100’s
and 100’s of slides into digital format. I coughed up the $'s for a
nice dedicated slide scanner and now images of my work as well as
technical and process images for teaching and lectures are stored in
a digital archive.

This archive is a digital analog for my 35mm originals which,
unfortunately should have been stored better. After years of
remodeling they are a bit dusty. No huge problem when scanning, but
I’d like to clean them up.

Google has yielded answers ranging from denatured alcohol to mild
soapy distilled water. I thought I’d throw it out to the Orchid
community. Thanks, in advance for the help.

On another matter: Come to SNAG in Houston! And come to the PDS at
SNAG in Houston!

Take care, Andy

Hi Andy,

If its just dust use a radio active brush should do the job and if
its really caked on you may need to take it out of the slide
protector and put it in a bath of soap made for film… i think b and
h photo may carry such a product


Dusty 35mm slides:

Andy if the housing for the slide is plastic you may be in luck. I’d
be afraid of using any liquid with the cardboard type surrounding.
When I ran a photo lab we used a product called Photo Flo as a final
rinse for processing film. It cleans and eliminates water spots. I
suggest you contact a photo equipment and supply company such as
Schiller Photo in St. Louis Missouri

They have been around for years and have always provided techinical

Good luck.

This archive is a digital analog for my 35mm originals which,
unfortunately should have been stored better. After years of
remodeling they are a bit dusty. No huge problem when scanning,
but I'd like to clean them up. 

Contact Eastman Kodak. They have people who do this professionally,
and I’m sure they’d provide

When I was in Rochester, I saw a trailer truck full of film from
Corning glass which had been in a flood. Kodak restored it all.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

Hi Andy,

How “dusty” are they? If it’s just dust, a quick blast with some
canned air should do it, and not scratch them up in the bargain.
That’s certainly the first place to start, with any process, as it’ll
get the majority of the large scale scratchy things off before you do
anything else that might use those grains to scratch up your

If it were me, I’d start with air, and then move to…? Hummmm…
Kodak Photo-Flo, probably. If memory serves, it was designed for
safe cleaning of negs & slides.


This archive is a digital analog for my 35mm originals which,
unfortunately should have been stored better. After years of
remodeling they are a bit dusty. No huge problem when scanning,
but I'd like to clean them up. Google has yielded answers ranging
from denatured alcohol to mild soapy distilled water. I thought I'd
throw it out to the Orchid community. Thanks, in advance for the

Which is dusty? The CDs or the slides? Alcohol will of course
dissolve the image on your 35 mm slides. If it’s the CDs, why not
just burn new ones? Also, if you upload them to Costco, you can buy
a CD from them that is better quality than what you can burn at home.

Now store them correctly this time. : )


andy, why don’t you go to a camera shop and ask? i have no
experience, but the idea putting something on them makes me nervous

jean adkins

Hi Brian-- and everyone.

Thanks for the advice. I routinely blast the slides with canned air
and some dust and debris is removed but at this point some
slides–especially older ones-- are in need of more aggressive
maneuvers. I’ll give photo-flo a try.


My friend at Discount Digital Art is a professional at scanning

Here is his suggestion.

“We have always advised against actually physically cleaning slides
with anything other than compressed air. We would hit them with air
but then we would digitally clean the images with photoshop after the

Back in the old days, when we did photography with film and chemicals
in a darkroom (ah, the smell of fixer in the morning…) we used
something called “Photoflo” on the negatives. It dried streaklessly,
without the spots and dripmarks that would mar the images. It comes
as a concentrated solution which we’d add to water. We’d dunk the
negative strips in a pan of the diluted solution, then squeegee off
the excess and hang them to dry. Obviously, it’s wet, so
cardboard-mounted slides probably would get soggy if you used it on
them, but plastic-mounted slides might work, or you could dismount
and remount them. Here’s a link to some:

Andrew Werby

A few things

1- Remember water will soften the slides making them more fragile.
If you use water cold is better.

2- Photoflo is a wetting agent to cause the water from the rinse in
developing to sheet off, it will not necessarily clean them and will
defiantly not remove oils from fingerprints or fallout from having a
smoker in the same room. Use a mild detergent to remove real crud if
you go the water route

What I would suggest instead is a multi stage process. First unless
the mounts are plastic buy new mounts, and even then you may want to
still get new ones, Then use canned air to remove loose dust Remove
the mount by separating the halves. If the mount is of the slip in
plastic type you may want to break it apart. The reason is sliding
the ‘slide’ out will embed and scratch the surface due to the crud.
Blow the slide off again Move to your Clean table Moisten the photo
chamois/pad/cotton with the isopropyl alcohol, and gently wipe the
film until it is clean (in a concentration of 98% or greater) (Yes I
stole this line from ) Examine the slide
with a magnifying glass to verify that it is clean Remount the slide
Note wear cotton gloves for the last 2 steps.

Suggest invite a few friends over and crack a bottle of wine and
make it an assembly line type production. Or alternately do the first
4 steps one night then the other ones another night. This has the
advantage of allowing the dust you stirred up into the air to settle
and allows you to clean up in between.


PS for the “What alcohol, are you nuts” crowd, I will admit that I
cheated and used Google and did a search at Kodak ( search term was
cleaning slides -projector -transport -condenser ) to
confirm my old decrepit memory was not too faulty. gives one procedure using alcohol

Hey Andrew

The Photo flo suggestion is good, but maybe too much to handle in
terms of handling the slides themselves. wet washing. the Photo flo
is basically a soap mixture that rinses off all other films left
behind by the other chemicals, (1st +2nd developer+stop bath + fixer
)but in the interim of this action you will be softening the emulsion
side of the slides which is as you may know the chemical side of the
image which consists of the actual image. softening and cleaning may
go well with out issue, you wil l have to hang or dry the slides some
how free of streaking and droplets to be sitting there on your
slides,unless you remove the frames off. the usual way for the Photo
flo step is to squeegee the film roll and hang the whole roll with a
weighted bottom for the roll not to curl up in a dust free closet, as
to your need of already individual cut slides may be alittle more
troublesome. my suggestion would be Kodak’s Film Cleaner, CAT 195
6986 containing Heptane, 1,2 trichloro - 1,2,2 trifluoroethane. I use
this quite often according to it’s directions, and cleans out the
slides very well even ones that have been scuffed up,as long as they
are not scratched. it is almost like a dry cleaners method of

good luck
Hratch Babikian

Using photoflo brings the film back to the very soft stage is was at
when it was processed and you can easily scratch the emulsion…

The film cleaner suggested (Kodak stuff), is definitely the thing to
use. If you can easily remove the chrome from the mount, it makes it
easier. Put some film cleaner in the cap. With one hand, hold down
the film on the sprocket edge, put some of the film cleaner on a
q-tip and gently swab across the film, in one direction. (change
q-tips frequently) You can use it on the emulsion side as well -
just do it gently. Then when you’re ready to scan them, use a little
canned air (not too close to the film or it can leave a liquid
deposit) to get rid of lint.

I worked for many years on “slide shows” (now powerpoint) and
cleaned more slides than I would like to remember…

-If you can get “wet” scans done of the slides- I would highly
reccomend it. If you have a Nikon coolscan or similar scanner Try a
“wet scan kit”…

The wet scans can resolve some dust scratch issues as well as refine
faded colors to some extent.

-From B and H website about the kit: The Cachet Starter Accessory Kit
is for the Cachet Image Mechanics Fluid Mount Scanner Tray for the
Nikon 8000 ED & 9000 ED Super Coolscan scanners.It contains 1 liter
of Kami Film Mounting Fluid for “wet” mounting film on a scanner,
which aids in removing scratches and reduces grain from
black-and-white negatives.It also includes acetate sheets which keep
the mounting fluid from spilling off the film while it is positioned
on the scanner, and a package of wipes for clean up.

-The ususal disclaimers-Not in any way affiliated with B/H- just a
Nikon scanner owner who saw a difference in wet versus dry scans-
esp. with older Ektachrome blue shifted and Kodachrome red shifted


Thanks Kerri,

I may look into this… I have a Coolscan 5000. Most of the slides
have been scanned now for a year or two. I’m most concerned about
preserving my analog archive of 35mm slides.

Great tip! A

This got a whole lot easier. I just set up my Nikon CoolScan and
found out that Nikon in its wisdom has dropped software support for
the latest Mac OS. To keep the old guy running I found the software
below. It has a filter that is absolutely amazing. One button
automatic… every spec of dust and lint gone! Restore color to an
old slide, one button. My jaw dropped!

The slide my dad took of mom in 194? is spectacularly restored in a
heart beat! You can try it for free. It has a watermark you can’t get
rid off until you pay. $39.00

I have no connection to this company etc., etc.


Darn now I have to re-scan my whole collection!
Reactive Metals Studio, Inc

Thanks Bill!

I just upgraded to Snow Leopard and it seems to be running my Cool
Scan 5000 like usual. But why Nikon dropped OS X support is a

Take care, Andy