How should I clean 15 year old negatives : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

Hi All,

I just bought a film scanner and am finally back working on a project I started 15 years ago. I processed the film (FP4 I think) myself (about 40 rolls of 36 exp), put them in plastic negative sleeves, and haven't touched them since. Now I'm trying to scan them and I'm finding that they are rather dirty. The only problem is that I have no idea how to clean them without damaging them (or the best way to remove dust from them for that matter). Thanks in advance for your help! grant-

-- grant young (, February 17, 2002


If they are real dusty, only the way I know works is to wash each strip in a tray of water, soak in wetting agent, and dry. Strip by Strip. I don't know if any film clip is easier to use than others for this purpose. It is pretty tricky to dry a cut strip of 120/220 film...

But I think the plastic sleeves and pages (US 3-hole binding system or maybe 8cm two hole or maybe 30hole system in UK??) are not the best way to organize and protect negatives... I'm curious what systems other people are using.

-- Ryuji Suzuki (, February 17, 2002.

Just how dirty are they? If it's just dust then blowing air may clean them up. I just use a blower brush (with no brush) to clean my negs and a fine quality brush (like you'd use when spotting a print) to dislodge anything really obstinate. Another thing would be to make sure the plastic neg sleeves are clean before pulling the negs out of them.

-- Nigel Smith (, February 17, 2002.

If it is just dust laying on the film, then using compressed air or canned "air" or a soft brush are good options. The Static Master brushes work well because the short-range radioactive material discharges the static electricity that holds the dust to the film.

If the film has dust embedded in the emulsion, or other kinds of dirt or stain, then you will probably have to use some sort of liquid. I would avoid a full rewet and wash until nothing else works. With 15 year old B+W negatives a full rewet would probably be safe, but would be a lot of work. With older negatives, rewetting with water can cause damage. After brushing, the next "more powerful" option to try is film cleaner. The PEC-12 Photographic Emulsion Cleaner is popular: see Kodak is recommending isopropyl alcohol with low water content, 98% or better isopropyl alcohol--do not use the rubbing alcohol sold in drug stores because it has too much water.

You will find excellent advice in Kodak publication CIS-145, "Recommendations for Cleaning Photographic Materials". This is available from the publications section of the Kodak website.

-- Michael Briggs (, February 18, 2002.

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