Cleaning Slides before Scanning

March 26, 2000

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I recently cleaned about 90 old slides of dust and dirt. The techniques I settled on are illustrated here, but I don't claim they are the best. I will probably be scanning another batch soon, and the next time I may use something different !


A regular desklamp is essential. I like the black color because the black base provides a good background for inspecting the slide. For more on this, please see the procedure below.

Distilled water in a bottle with an eye-dropper. I also bought a bottle of PEC-12 Photographic Emulsion Cleaner, which I hoped would remove mildew. It *did* remove the mildew from the base (shiny) side, but distilled water worked too. I have not found anything that removes mildew from the emulsion (dull) side; I think the mildew grows inside the emulsion. I am keeping the PEC-12, but still waiting to find a substance that it removes and that water cannot remove. Two substances listed on the PEC-12 bottle are tape adhesive and oil.

+ = The PEC-PADs came packaged with the PEC-12. But I found them awkward and wasteful to use. I found a Q-tip easy to use, but the cotton fibers tended to come off. So I got foam swabs at an electronic store, cut a PEC-PAD into strips, wrapped a strip around the swab, and fastened it with a paper clip. I think a Q-tip would work just as well as the foam swab, but haven't tried it.

or I tried a vacuum cleaner, but mine wasn't strong enough to get the stubborn dust particles. I had better results with the can of compressed gas, but I used up a whole can in no time. Mark had the idea of using his scuba tank with an Air Blowdown Tool. I took the red plastic tube from the compressed gas can, and plugged it into the tool. Cleaning 90 slides took about 2/3 of the tank. Thanks Mark!


Glenn Davis, 2000