DSLR Camera Maintenance

See if you're cleaning your camera properly with these tips

DLSR Camera

DircinhaSW/Getty Images

When making the switch from point and shoot cameras to DSLRs, one aspect of the DSLR that can be confusing is some of the ways you must perform DSLR camera maintenance. Because DSLR cameras include interchangeable lenses and many other accessories, cleaning this type of camera requires different techniques than what's required with a point and shoot camera.

Use these tips to learn more about your options for keeping your DSLR camera clean and for performing DSLR camera maintenance.

Remember that not every DSLR camera has the same layout as is described here, so check your user guide for your camera’s specific layout.


Cleaning the body of a DSLR camera requires the same process as cleaning a point and shoot camera body. Use a soft, dry cloth, such as a microfiber cloth, to gently clean the camera body of any grime, dust, or fingerprints. If you have some persistent grime, you can slightly dampen the cloth with distilled water before cleaning the body.


To clean the DSLR lens, use a small blower bulb and a soft brush to remove any dust or sand from the lens. You then may gently wipe the lens with a dry, soft cloth in a circular motion from the middle outward. If you don’t remove the grit first, you could scratch the lens when using the cloth.

Because the interchangeable DSLR lens has two glass surfaces that are exposed to the elements, you're going to want to clean both the front element and the back element of the lens.

To maintain the integrity of the glass on both sides of the lens, place lens covers on both ends of the lens as soon as you remove the lens from the camera. Keep the lens cap on the front element of the lens whenever the lens is attached to the camera, but you're not shooting photos.

Lens Mount

To keep the DSLR camera's lens mount and its electrical contacts working as well as possible, you need to keep this area dry and free of grime. A microfiber cloth is a great tool for this.


A DSLR camera has a mirror mechanism inside the camera that becomes exposed to the elements each time you change the lens on the camera. Cleaning the DSLR mirror requires some special care because the mirror is a delicate component that's key to the camera’s performance.

Use a small blower bulb to remove any dust, but avoid touching the mirror's surface with any significant force. If you’re nervous about cleaning the mirror, choose the safe route and use a camera repair shop.

Image Sensor

With a DSLR camera, the image sensor also will need to be cleaned from time to time. Dust on the image sensor shows up as slightly blurry spots in your images. Some cameras have a built-in image sensor cleaning system, usually involving a fast vibration of the sensor.

To perform a thorough cleaning of the image sensor, you'll want to use a swab or a sensor brush. Image sensor cleaning kits are sold at camera retailers, which can ensure you have the right equipment. You also can have a camera repair center perform this type of cleaning for you.

To maintain the mirror and image sensor in the best possible condition, place the lens mount cover over the lens mount any time you will remove a lens from the camera for longer than it takes to mount a different lens.

LCD Screen

To clean the LCD, follow the same procedure that you would use to clean the LCD on a point and shoot camera. Even though the LCD on the DSLR camera may be larger than what you'd find on a beginner-level camera, the process of cleaning the LCD is the same regardless of its size.

When cleaning an LCD, use as little pressure as possible because the LCD can be damaged with excessive pressure. Additionally, if you have disposable wipes specifically designed for an LCD computer monitor or TV, those can be used with the LCD screen on your DSLR camera, too.

What Not to Do

Never use canned air to clean any part of the DSLR camera. The pressure behind canned air is too powerful for the camera and could cause damage. With some DSLR cameras, you even could drive dust or sand inside the camera body with the pressure behind canned air, damaging the camera’s interior components.

If you need to use any liquid to clean the camera, always place a few drops of the liquid on the cloth and then clean the camera. Do not place the liquid directly on the camera. Never use alcohol or paint thinner on the camera; distilled water should work well if needed.