Clean Fungus From Your Camera Lens

Yes, your lens can really grow fungus

What to Know

  • The main contributor to fungus is moisture. Avoid using the camera on humid days and store it in a dry location.
  • Fungus on the exterior can be cleaned with a mixture of water and vinegar on a soft cloth.
  • Clean fingerprints with a soft lint-free cloth.

This article explains how to clean fungus on your camera lens. Additional information covers how to deal with moisture and other tips.

Your Camera Lens' Enemy

Camera lens fungus is one of those problems that you may not have heard about much, but depending on the climate in your location, it could be a problem with which you should familiarize yourself.

Moisture trapped inside or on the camera's surface causes lens fungus, where, when combined with warmth, the fungus can grow from the moisture. The fungus, as it grows, almost looks like a small spider web on the interior surface of the lens.

Be Aware of the Season

In the spring and early summer, when rainy conditions are common, and there's a lot of moisture in the air, you may be more likely to face camera lens fungus. Photographers in areas where humidity in the air is high and where temperatures are consistently warm should be especially on the look for the possibility of lens fungus. These tips should help you avoid camera lens fungus problems.

Hand holding camera lens
Lucas Batistel / EyeEm / Getty Images
  • Keep the camera dry: The best way to avoid lens fungus is to prevent moisture from entering the camera. Sometimes this is unavoidable, especially if you live in an area where humidity is common in the summer. The best you can do is avoid using the camera on high humidity days and during wet weather. Stay out of the rain, even on a cool day, as moisture may enter the lens on this rainy, cool day and then cause the formation of lens fungus when the temperatures warm up again.
  • Take precautions to dry a wet camera: If your camera becomes wet, dry it immediately. Open the camera's compartments and seal it in a zipped plastic bag with a silica gel pack, for example, or with uncooked rice. If the camera has a lens that can detach from the camera body, remove the lens and seal it in its own plastic bag with a gel pack or rice.
  • Store the camera in a dry location: If you must operate your camera in high humidity, store the camera later in a dry, cool location. It's best if the container allows light to enter, as most types of fungus prefer darkness. However, don't leave the lens and camera in direct sunlight for extended periods, which can damage the camera if it's exposed to excessive heat.
  • Attempt to clean the lens fungus: Because fungus tends to grow inside lenses and between glass elements, cleaning the lens yourself is difficult without damaging the lens components. Sending the affected lens to a camera repair center for cleaning is a good idea. If you don't want to ship your camera to a repair center, dry it completely using the tips above first, which may fix the problem.
  • Clean fingerprints and oils from the camera: You can introduce fungus to your camera and lens when you touch the lens surface and viewfinder. Avoid leaving fingerprints on these areas, and clean any fingerprints immediately with a clean, dry cloth. Although fungus typically grows on the inside of the lens or viewfinder, it may occasionally appear on the outside after you've touched an area.
  • Avoid blowing on the lens: Avoid blowing on the lens with your mouth to clear dust or breathing on the lens to fog the glass for cleaning purposes. The moisture in your breath could cause the fungus you're trying to avoid. Instead, use a blower brush to remove particles from the camera and a clean, dry cloth to clean the lens.
  • Clean the fungus immediately: If you encounter a lens fungus problem on the camera's exterior, the lens will need to be cleaned. A mixture of vinegar and water placed on a dry cloth can clean the fungus.
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