In this article, you're going to learn...
In most cases compressed air and a lint free cloth will work. But iff this didn't work for you, then here's what you need to do...
The only way to clean negatives that are this bad is with Isopropyl alcohol. But if you do this wrong, you will ruin your negative – worse than it was before.
Ready? I'll show you how...
Sometimes compressed air will “pit” more dust and debris onto the negative film. What I mean is, compressed air will have it's own dust that can land on the film surface. It will land in cracks and the oils... leaving more dust and debris on the film surface.
What about a lint-free cloth? This works if your negative isn't greasy. If it's full or oils and finger prints, a lint-free cloth will just smudge that around.
This is when Isopropyl alcohol can help.
Here's how to properly use it so you don't ruin your negative film...
Why 98% or more? Because when the alcohol dries, it won't leave streaks, spots, or stains. If you use a lower percentage, water will remain, and you'll end up with streaks, spots, stains.
Even worse, the water that didn't dry or evaporate will react with the “emulsion” of your film. Emulsion is what is used to “print” your negative. If emulation mixes with water, it will smudge.
Tempting, right? Just dip the negative strip in the alcohol and let it sit!
Except what you'll do is, the alcohol will burn into the emulsion. This will destroy your negative film. Here's what to do instead...
DO NOT saturate the cloth or swab. Just a small dab will do.
Then gently apply the cloth or swab on your negative. And clean small surface first.
Also, wear lint-free gloves. You can get these at photography stores. Nothing worse than getting a finger print on a negative after you cleaned it!
Make sure you have positive air-flow. But don't leave your negatives by a window... you'll just end up attracting dust from outside.
This step is simple, but very important. You want the alcohol to evaporate naturally. This will loosen any oils, dust, debris off the emulsion.
The alcohol did it's job – it loosened the oils, debris, dust.
So the last step is to use a different cloth or swab and gently wipe the film. Make sure the cloth or swab is dry.
Usually what I do is take a roll of 24 negatives. Clean them. Then get another roll. Clean them. Then go back to the first roll. By then they should be dry.
Here are the steps again...
Which of these scanning troubles do you want to overcome?
Hey, my name is Konrad. I've been scanning professionally since 2005. I've helped multi-billion dollar companies, pro sports teams, pro photographers, artists, museums, book publishers, etc. I've scanned over 930,000 slides, negatives, photos.
The reason I'm telling you this is because no matter what challenge or frustration you're having, I know exactly what you're going through. So, to help you RIGHT NOW, I've put together a super simple scanning guide to get you started.