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What is the best method for cleaning 35mm slides?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography & Imaging' started by wgreene, Mar 9, 2006.

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  1. wgreene

    wgreene Thread Starter

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    I recently purchased a new film scanner for the purpose of scanning many of my thousands of old slides, mostly Kodachrome, some from as far back as the late '40s. Many of these slides, especially a lot of the older ones, were not stored properly and have therefore accumulated a great deal of surface dust & debris. What is the best method for cleaning these slides? I read somewhere that pure alcohol and a soft cotton cloth works quite well, as does naptha (sp.?). I would greatly appreciate hearing from anyone who has had experience cleaning color slides. I presume I could obtain cleaners from a good camera store. On the other hand, perhaps my local Wal-Mart would have something that would work just as well.
    Thank you.
     
  2. xgerryx

    xgerryx

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    When you are talking about thousands you are going to have a job on your hands.
    (sounds scary)

    It can be quite difficult especially if any grime has become semi embedded.
    Sometimes its best to just use an airbrush or very soft cloth and then clean up the scanned images on your computer.
     
  3. slipe

    slipe

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    Don’t use rubbing alcohol. It has a lubricant in it.

    I would do what I could with distilled water after a camel brush and a shot of air.

    If your scanner doesn’t have Digital Ice you are in for some work.
     
  4. wgreene

    wgreene Thread Starter

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    Thank you both for your replies.

    Actually, I don't intend to scan all of my slide, possibly as many as a few hundred before I'm done. That's enough!

    Luckily, my scanner (Nikon Coolscan V ED) does have Digital Ice, and I've already seen what an amazing job it does!

    On some of the older slides, unfortunately, the dust and dirt seems to be quite embedded. I used rubbing alcohol on one slide, and I noticed that it did a good job of removing nearly all of the grime. However, I read soon afterward that rubbing alcohol is a not to be used because it contains water, so I definitely won't do that again.

    I don't know that I've ever purchased distilled water for any purpose. Isn't it available at supermarkets?

    Thanks again for the tips.
     
  5. slipe

    slipe

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    Distilled water is cheap and available at my supermarket. It doesn’t leave a film but I would still wipe it as dry as possible. I always have a jug around for various things like the car battery and my sharpener. Our water is quite hard.

    Home Depot and Lowes carries 100% alcohol. If the rubbing alcohol didn’t hurt the slides I doubt regular alcohol will.

    Kodak Photoflow was just a mild detergent and was always part of film and slide processing. You might consider putting a drop or two of dishwashing liquid in the distilled water. Clean it off with pure water or alcohol.
     
  6. wgreene

    wgreene Thread Starter

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    Thank you very much for the additional information. I'll be visiting the stores tomorrow.:)
     
  7. wgreene

    wgreene Thread Starter

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    I haven't had a chance to go to a store yet, but I did check with both Lowe's and Home Depot. They say they carry only denatured alcohol. Is that what you are referring to as 100% alcohol? If so, I figure that would probably be preferable to distilled water.
     
  8. slipe

    slipe

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    Denatured means they poison it so people can’t drink it without paying taxes. I think they mix methanol in with the ethanol to make it undrinkable. Since ethanol and methanol are both alcohols I think the cans are near 100%.

    If you are going to use the pure alcohol on your slides I would try it first on one that isn’t very important. Pure alcohol is very absorbent of water. 100% ethanol (200 proof) will damage your throat by pulling moisture from the tissues. If you get damage to your test slide I would mix a little distilled water with it.
     
  9. wgreene

    wgreene Thread Starter

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    I've already bought the distilled water and cleaned one slide with it. I don't believe any harm was done. The scanned result was quite good.

    If I decide to buy the denatured alcohol, I'll be sure to mix a little of the water with it.

    Thanks again.
     
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