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Cleaning Old Films?


19 Mar 2012 12:21PM
I'm in the process of scanning all my dads old slides of which there are a couple of thousand! It's probably going to take me a few years to complete especially as all of them need quite a bit of cleaning to say the least.

All of the slides are between 30-40 years old and have been stored in their carousels the entire time (thankfully all but three carousels are also inside their boxes). Whilst this has given them a certain amount of protection all of them have varying degrees of debris on them. The current batch I'm doing from the 80's are truly awful being covered in dust with spots of mould and other gunk on them so much so that even with iCE on my scanner there is really too much rubbish getting through for Photoshop to remove successfully with clone and patch tools.

What is the best way to clean slides prior to scanning? I've read that the only real way is to remove them from their mounts but I'm not going to do that as there are thousands and I'd need to replace them all. So I accept that I won't get them spotless and that around the edge will still require a fair amount of Photoshop fixing.

I've read that some people recommend a very soft brush and/or a rocket blower but whilst I've not tried a brush I've found that a blower makes no difference at all. This makes me think that a brush may not be the solution as it sounds like the dust and debris may be stuck onto the film slightly.

I've heard people saying they use Pec 12 Liquid and Pec Pads. This sounds like it would clean the film but I'm worried about any damage, long term and short term, this would do. Any thoughts?

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franken e2
12 3.3k 4 Wales
19 Mar 2012 12:58PM
Hi I've remembered seeing this on the web, not sure if its any use but here it is:


http://www.old-photo.com/pages/35mm-slide-cleaning.htm
KenTaylor e2
10 3.0k 2 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2012 1:11PM

Quote:I've read that the only real way is to remove them from their mounts but I'm not going to do that as there are thousands and I'd need to replace them all

You dont say if they are card or plastic mounts. I cant think of any other way than removal from the mount as a brush will only remove any loose dirt.
I am sure yiou can get card mounts on eBay if they are now presently in card.
If plastic then the glass will need cleaning also unless you decide to replace the mounts with card..

It will only be a water bath and a soft brush for any chance of reasonable success.
As you say it will be a long job with the cleaning being rather tedious leaving you with deciding how how many to reject.

You could try gently wiping them with methylated spirit that would not involve drying them after the water bath but again it would require you to remove them from the mount.

The Pec 12 sounds possible while using meths as I have done in the past has had no detrimental damage.

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