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Every photographer should have a cleaning kit – no matter your skill level or your camera. Whether you’re shooting through an old-school analog antique or a flashy new DSLR, a camera is a major investment, so it should be a no-brainer to keep a good camera cleaning kit around.
Maintaining your camera can keep its parts running smoothly, and significantly prolong its life, especially if you’re changing lenses frequently, which gives dust and debris a chance to get inside (and on the lens too, if you don’t put the cap back on right away). If you’re noticing spots, marks and dots on your images, it’s time to get a kit and start doing some regular cleaning.
What Comes in a Camera Cleaning Kit?
All kits can vary in what they include, but we’ve broken it down to the basics you’ll need.
Microfiber Cloths: A simple cloth is endlessly helpful when wiping down sensitive lenses and screens following wet cleanings. For tougher dirt and oils, start by using a carbon pen first, then wipe it down afterwards, since cloths can’t always remove deep smudges on their own. Some kits now even include the cloth as an entire glove that goes over your hand, which can be extra helpful for getting into tight places.
Carbon Pen: A carbon-tipped pen can attract dirt particles, but without the need for any liquid, removing fingerprints and smudges. It’s a powerful and common alternative when a cloth can’t quite do the job, and you don’t want to wet the area with a spray cleaner. A concave pen is ideal, since it’ll match the contouring shape of your lens, and it’s a good idea to wipe it all down afterwards in order to get any remaining residue off.
Lens Cleaning Fluid: This can be made from a whole host of chemicals and ingredients, so be certain it’s safe for your camera and lens, and that it won’t leave any streaks, tracks or marks (there are now plant-based and alcohol-free formulas available too). Making sure the bottle isn’t going to leak before throwing it into your camera bag can help avoid finding a disaster scene next time you open it.
As with screen cleaning fluid (or really any fluid), it’s best to spray it on a microfiber cloth first rather than on the camera, to avoid getting liquid inside delicate parts.
Brushes: These brushes can come in all shapes, lengths and sizes, but the purpose is pretty much the same: removing small dust and particles from between parts with soft, precise bristles. A retractable brush goes a step further, keeping it safe and clean between uses.
Blower: A blower squeezes a blast of air into the insides, further forcing out stagnant dirt and debris. Some higher-end kits even include a mini vacuum, to suck up whatever’s knocked loose during cleaning.
Scope: It can be tough to see what’s stuck inside sometimes. That’s where a scope comes in. This little device magnifies your sight to get a better view on what’s going on internally.
Case: To wrap things up, keeping everything together in a small bag is ideal, but a hard-shell case is even better (especially one that’s water-resistant or waterproof). For bigger travel packs that are designed to hold all your large photography gear, we’ve got your back, and have some recommendations for those too.
We’ve rounded up some of the best complete camera cleaning kits that you can find online. A bonus: these all-in-one sets double as cleaning kits for your screens, tablets and binoculars too.
1. Movo Deluxe Essentials DSLR Camera Cleaning Kit
For cleaning your lens and around your camera, this kit is a great place to start.
A powerful little blower blasts out particles anywhere its directed, and super-soft plush sensor brushes sweep away anything unwanted from inside. Ten cleaning swabs are included, and when used in combination with the tin-oxide liquid cleaner, can safely clean an APS-C sensor. For the lens itself, the lens pen contains a carbon-based formula for safe and effective cleaning, and the two included microfiber cloths are safe for all types of equipment.
2. Altura Photo Professional Cleaning Kit
Altura’s been around for a while now, creating quality products for amateur and professional photographers.
This kit contains three premium MagicFiber cloths, for gentle cleaning of lenses and screens, to keep them free of scratches and streaks.
Two dual-sided, multi-purpose pens feature a retractable brush on one end, and a tip with both a round curve for lens surfaces, as well as a triangular one for cleaning edge-to-edge LCD displays.
Altura’s lens cleaner is what really makes this a clear choice: it’s alcohol free, non-toxic, and naturally biodegrades.
Each kit comes in a see-through, reusable, zipping carry-bag too, plus 50 sheets of premium tissue paper for extra cleaning.
3. SANHOOII Camera Cleaning Kit
While this kit is designed for DSLR cleaning, it also works great on other electronics with sensitive screens, and includes an alcohol-free cleaning solution and an air blower that gets out deep dust.
The vacuum-packed, 16mm sensor cleaning swabs are a safe way to touch up an APS-C frame sensor, and sweep away invisible particles that might be messing with it. Pointed swabs are another perk of this pack for more specific areas, and won’t leave any lint or fibers behind.
There’s a travel case included too, as well as a nicely soft adjustable brush.
4. Professional Camera Cleaning Kit for DSLR Cameras
This kit’s soft bristled brush cleans out dirt and dust from gaps and crevices, without damaging the lens or screen.
For tougher smudges, the carbon-cleaning pen can be a better alternative to microfiber cloths, since regular cloths sometimes can’t absorb the oils left by fingerprints. Gently rubbing the carbon end in a circular motion on the lens should take care of those, giving you a clear and clean shot, and the opportunity to polish everything up with the included alcohol-free spray cleaner and cloths afterwards.