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How to Keep Your Camera Gear Clean and in Good Condition

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Our opinion: it’s way easier to maintain gear long-term than it is to re-invest after something has already failed or become completely unusable.

If you’re new to the hobby or profession, the good news is that it doesn’t take a lot to catch yourself up. Here are the basics of camera maintenance and what you’ll need to clean cameras and lenses of any type.

1. Start With the Essentials and Use Them Correctly

Some camera gear.

It doesn’t take much to keep your gear looking great and performing flawlessly. We’ve boiled things down to the bare necessities, everything that you’ll need to address a myriad of common tasks and problems:

  • Lens cleaner fluid, from camera sites like B&H or from brands like Zeiss
  • Lens tissue, which you can get brand-name from companies like Roscoe or Tiffen
  • A lens pen, which usually includes a little brush and a carbon compound pad that can be used for a streak-free swipe
  • A camera air blaster or puffer, sort of like those things that parents use to get boogers out of a baby’s nose (or, alternatively, canned air)

You’ll notice that microfiber cloths are not on this list—they’re awesome because they’re reusable, but you should never use them on the back-most face or element of a lens or on the sensor or interior of the camera. Lens tissues should be used once and then disposed of.

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Another lens cleaning tip: you should never spray cleaning solution onto the lens itself. Instead, hold the lens tissue up in front of you and spray it from around ten inches away, moistening it without saturating it. When wiping the glass on any lens, work concentrically from the center outward to avoid linear streaking.

2. Invest in a Professional Camera Bag

A camera bag and some gear.

A heavy-duty bag or even something like a Pelican Case will keep your gear safe from the elements, the duress of transport, and other environmental considerations that you may run into.

Professional camera bags and cases are usually partitioned, keeping everything cushioned and separate. Your stuff is much less likely to jostle around, leaving everything just as pristine and clean as it was when you tucked it all away the night before.

Two of these compartments will inevitably be suspiciously tailored to something like a squirt bottle of lens cleaner and a small packet of lens tissue. We’ve never kept a separate on-set kit for camera cleaning accessories and expendables—it’s much more convenient to have it all in one place, right where you can grab anything you need.

3. Use a Protective Camera Filter

A person holding up a camera filter.

A protective lens filter wards off grime before it has a chance to ruin your shot, including oil from your own fingerprints. This simple trick also comes with the bonus of anything else that the camera filter offers—UV management, neutral density, or even things like color correction and other atmospheric effects.


You may, of course, also opt instead for a simple glass filter that does nothing aside from protecting the outermost face of the lens from the elements. If you regularly find yourself shooting under unfavorable, unforgiving, or dangerous conditions, this is one investment to make.

Travel photographers, landscape photographers, documentary photographers, and many others are included under this heading. Protect yourself from the weather and the environment before either has a chance to permanently damage your gear.

4. Avoid Exposure to Humidity and Moisture

A camera with a lot going on inside of it.

Finding mold in your lens or camera is probably one of the nastiest surprises that may befall you as a photographer. Some cameras claim to be “weather-sealed,” although these labels should be taken with a grain of salt unless the model is being marketed as waterproof explicitly.


If you leave your gear out in your car overnight, for example, you might put it in a compromising position. A hot, muggy night in an enclosed area allows moisture to seep through the hull’s seams, where it will inevitably fester. Ditto for outdoor shoots in the rain—there’s a ton of waterproof camera gear that you can use in defense of your arsenal, though, just to err on the side of caution.

Moisture and expensive electronic gear do not get along. If you can keep things high and dry, the problem never has a chance to happen in the first place.

5. Send Your Gear In for a Check-Up

A Canon camera on a wooden table.

Some photographers prefer not to actually dismantle things like cameras and lenses themselves, and with good reason. Without doing so, however, you can’t exactly perform tasks like cleaning out the viewfinder or mirror, if applicable. Luckily, in the majority of cases, you don’t have to.

Companies like Canon will actually receive branded gear like lenses and camera bodies for a professional, completely comprehensive 7- or 18-point maintenance inspection and service. It might not always be free, but if your camera is under warranty, you might be able to catch a break. Your service may even include things like software updates and other perks.

6. Reserve Some Off-Time for Camera Maintenance

A person puffing dust off of a lens.

For many professional photographers, this part becomes a self-care ritual. Periodically, you should be breaking your entire camera bag down into a flatlay, cleaning and maintaining everything that you own one by one.

Taking time out for your due diligence ensures that your kit is always in top condition and ready for anything. You’ll also prevent small problems from going unnoticed and snowballing unexpectedly later on.

They told you the life of a photographer would be glamorous—they never said it would be easy. Do your gear (and your future self!) a favor down the line. It doesn’t take much; a keen eye, a steady hand, and an artist who cares.

7. Always Replace the Lens Cap and Body Cap

Some camera lenses on a table.

We’re just as guilty of this one as you are. The same applies to your camera body cap, even if it’s just going to bed for the evening. Lens caps and body caps prevent dust from landing on your camera’s sensitive parts, saving you the trouble of wiping it off later on.

This rule is especially important if you’re wearing your camera. One false move or unfortunate bump, and you might find yourself in a world of pain. Crisis averted.

A bunch of camera gear.

Finally, we arrive at what might be one of the most important tips on this list: keeping everything accessible to you when you’ve got the most to lose in the field. You never want to miss out on the shot of a lifetime because you’ve got a smudge that you can’t reckon with viably.

For this reason, we always keep the basics with us in a pocket or pouch. This habit will serve you well, especially if you’re shooting in a fast-paced, high-stakes environment.

Our ethos is that nobody on set or at the event should be waiting for the photographer to get a grip of themselves. If you’re always primed for what’s ahead, you’re much more likely to be called back for the next big project.

How to Keep Camera Equipment Clean and Safe: A Beginner’s Guide

Camera equipment is expensive, and replacing it regularly will eat into your pockets quickly. Fortunately, most gear is well-designed these days—and you’re in control if you want to make it last longer.

Make sure that your investment lasts for as long as humanly possible with these tips for keeping cameras clean and in good condition.



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