Great question! Cleaning your photos is a fun and easy thing to do while reviewing your items before shipment. Before getting into specifics, it’s best to clean photos while wearing cotton or latex gloves, to avoid leaving fingerprints. Additionally, make sure any cloths or brushes you use are clean, otherwise they’ll just add more dust and grime to the photo.
1. Remove large debris:
Removing larger debris like dirt, hair, or sand is simple! Just give your photo a quick shake in the air, or a couple taps on a table. Be sure to do this to photos individually, rather than in a stack.
2. Remove dust:
Dust can be a little tricky to remove. Just because a photo print, slide, or negative looks good to the naked eye doesn’t mean there isn’t dust present. We recommend using a bulb blower or canned electronic safe compressed air to dust the slides. While this will clean a lot of the dust, it may not clean all of it. Give the photo a quick wipe with a microfiber cleaning cloth or a soft paintbrush. This should be enough to remove the remaining dust. Once clean, be sure any holders, trays, or bags you are using to store your photos are clean as well.
3. Removing mold or fungus:
It is very easy to damage photo prints. We do not recommend any of the following steps for photo prints. If you have moldy photo prints, we recommend you find a specialist to assist in restoring them.
The following steps are for cleaning photo negatives and slides. It is also highly recommended that you wear latex or nitrile gloves, to protect your hands, and to avoid leaving any oils from your hands directly on the film.
If cleaning slides, remove them from their housing first, otherwise all the grime, mold, and fungus will just be pushed into the corners, next to the slide frame.
Dab a small amount of isopropyl alcohol onto a clean microfiber cloth. Do not apply too much force, and avoid using the same section of the microfiber cloth too often. Dirt and sand can be trapped in the mold or fungus. Aggressive cleaning or not cycling through different sections of the cloth can result in damaged film. Gently wipe the film until all the mold is gone. Let the film sit out in a low humidity environment for a little while. This allows all the alcohol to evaporate. Place the slides back into their holders when they are fully dry.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to go! Send in your photos, and we’ll get them digitized in a flash.