Cleaning Photos
November 30, 2005 7:23 PM   Subscribe

I've got a butt load of photos of my kids taken beginning in the 80s that I'm going to scan. I want to know if anyone can recommend a method for cleaning off the many finger prints and other gook before I scan.

All of the photos are on the plastic coated paper. I'm thinking I can rinse them in a solution of Kodak Photoflo and let them dry (I know Photoflo is intended for B&W negatives but thought it would loosen the greasy finger prints and lead to a spot free drying).

Any recommendations regarding the cleaning of photos and color negatives in prep for scanning will be appreciated.
posted by Carbolic to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It might be overkill, but Photographic Solutions PEC-12 gets damn near anything off of prints and negatives. It's very strong smelling, and can't be good for you, but it works. Pick up a spray bottle and some PECPads (99.9% lint free) and you should be good to go. I bought both from B&H (, but I'm not sure that they ship the PEC chemical.

If you go this route, remember that the axiom "a little goes a long way" is totally true for PEC-12. I think half a spray will do you for a few prints/negs.
posted by GreenTentacle at 7:52 PM on November 30, 2005

Second on the PEC-12. Should go without saying that you spray it on the PEC pads, not the prints themselves.
posted by availablelight at 8:37 PM on November 30, 2005

For coated prints, cotton balls and a small dab of regular denatured or rubbing alcohol works ok and is cheaper than PEC stuff. After wiping and a minute or two for drying, a quick squirt from an air can or light rub with a microfibre or other lint-free cloth will should shift any fibres left on the surface. Don't do this to your negs.

For dust and other general muck, a rinse in Photoflow or equivalent wetting agent can be all you need, but it doesn't usually shift fingerprints. If the fingerprint has been on the neg for a long time, you may find the neg is permanently damaged, because finger-grease can be slightly acidic. As above - PEC-12 is the heavy artillery for neg cleaning.
posted by normy at 2:21 AM on December 1, 2005

Second rubbing alcohol, if that doesn't get it, you can escalate the war later.
Worth knowing: You can lift a fresh fingerprint the same way the CSI guys do, with a dab of tape, but that only works if it's fresh.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:16 AM on December 1, 2005

PEC-12 works great. Highly recommended.
posted by mumeishi at 8:16 AM on December 1, 2005

I'm not sure if naptha/light-fluid can damage photographs, but that's my general get-rid-of-oil/grease/sticker-gunk/goo/whatever solvent.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:39 AM on December 1, 2005

Used to work in a photo lab and we would just rub prints gently with those white cotton gloves used to protect negatives. They're ~$1 at a photo store or your local lab could just give you a pair, if you don't have any similar soft, non-linty cotton around.
posted by dvadr at 1:04 AM on December 2, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for all the information. I picked up some 91% isopropyl and some "lintless" make-up/face blotter pads at the drug store last night.

The isopropyl has gotten all the gunk off but leaves streaks sometimes and the pads aren't completely lintless. Not perfect but an overall improvement. If I decide I'm not satisfied I'll give the PEC-12 with some lintless-er pads.
posted by Carbolic at 3:32 PM on December 2, 2005

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