Cleaning Fiber Optics

By: CableOrganizer®


Fiber optic cleaning is one of the most important procedures in the maintenance of a fiber optic system. This is required to keep quality connections within fiber optic equipment. It is essential to keep the fiber end face and ferrule on the fiber optic connectors as clean as possible. If any particles such as dust, lint or oil get on the end face, this will jeopardize the completeness of the optical signal that is being sent over the fiber.

These particles can also cause other problems such as scratching the glass surface, instability in the laser system, and a misalignment between the fiber cores. Misalignment between the fiber cores can significantly degrade the optical signal.


It’s important to follow all manufacturer recommendations prior to choosing a cleaning method and products. The cable needs to be disconnected from both ends and laser sources should be turned off, before cleaning fiber optic connectors. Safety glasses should always be worn, and connectors inspected, before cleaning them. A connector housing should be used for plugging or unplugging a fiber. A protective cap should be placed on unplugged fiber connectors. The unused caps can be kept in a sealed container.

The end face of the connector should never be touched when cleaning fiber optics. The clean area of a tissue or swab should also not be touched or reused during the cleaning process.

When using alcohol, the portion of a tissue or swab where it has been applied, or the dispensing tip of an alcohol bottle, should never be touched. Alcohol is flammable, so it should not be used around an open spark. Its residue should additionally never be left on the face end, because this could damage the equipment.


The fiber end should be inspected with a fiberscope of at least 200x magnification, and if it is contaminated, it should be cleaned with the dry cleaning method. After cleaning, the fiber end should be inspected with a fiberscope. If the fiber end is still contaminated after using the dry cleaning method, repeat the process. Inspect the connector again with the fiberscope, and if it is still contaminated, use the wet cleaning method, followed by a dry cleaning method, until there is no residue.

With the wet cleaning method, an optical quality cleaning cloth and fluid are used. Even though isopropyl alcohol is frequently used as a cleaning fluid, it is slow at drying and can leave residue. When using this method, dampen the cleaning cloth with the fluid and wipe the end face of the connector several times. Repeat this and then with a clean, dry area of the cloth, clean the fiber end.

The fiber should not be used if the cleaning is unsuccessful because the contamination could be due to scratching, improper polishing, or some other damage.

Need fiber optic cleaning products? CableOrganizer® has an array of fiber optic cleaning supplies, consumable kits, and fan out kits here.

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