I request the scratchfree-est of wipes
January 28, 2015 8:37 AM   Subscribe

I have an extremely delicate wiping task coming up: removing oxide and binder dust from extremely rare, somewhat degraded magnetic media. I want to minimize risk of scratches. What wipes shall I use?

The recommended procedure (apparently) is to brush off the dust with a moistened scratch-free cloth. Here are kinds of "delicate task wipers" I know about:

Kimwipes: branded the official wipe of Science.
AlphaLite: continuous-filament polyester wipes. Advertised for use in clean rooms.

But are these the best choices, or are they just the barons and viscounts of scratch-free wipe nobility? Which wipe is the king?
posted by tss to Technology (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would start with a small vacuum cleaner, the kind for computers and keyboards. Get the dust off the media before you wipe it.
posted by musofire at 8:55 AM on January 28, 2015

Lens paper is the official scratch-free wipe of Science.

I would also try blowing or sucking dust off first, unless those forces would cause further damage.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:06 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kimwipes are made of a scratchless fiber and are great for helping remove residual oils and such, but will not be scratchless removal if you do not have a way to clear the dust off first. Even moistened, if you rub anything with a bit of dust on it, it will encourage scratching. Definitely handy, but don't expect it to do the bulk of the work just because the product itself is designed to be gentle.. Like a baron. Sure.
posted by lawliet at 9:08 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, musofire has it: either a vacuum to suck off the dust, or a fan/blower/compressed air to blow off at least the majority of it --- starting with a wipe will get off the dust, but it will also cause that dust to scratch your media. Dust may look fluffy, but it's actually pretty sharp-edged; the problem won't be so much the medium you use, it's the dust itself. (I deal with motion picture film all day: we blow it off, never wipe it off!)
posted by easily confused at 9:09 AM on January 28, 2015

Depending on how rare and valuable the media is (assuming it is reel to reel tape?), you may want to leave this to a professional restorer.

Wikipedia's page on the Preservation of Magnetic Audiotape describes a formulation of tape that led to degredation (see 'Sticky-Shed Syndrome'). Also mentioned in that article is a specialty 3M product called '3M Tape Cleaning Fabric', but I couldn't find a source online.

If you use a vacuum or blower, make sure you don't get the media too close to the motor -- the magnetic field may degauss your tape. Good luck!
posted by jimmytransistor at 9:14 AM on January 28, 2015

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