How To Clean Fiber Optic Connectors

cleaning fiber optic connectors

Cleaning fiber optic connectors is necessary for the proper operation of the equipment. It is one of the most important preventative maintenance procedures to avoid premature failure of the system. Expert studies have shown that a one micrometer dust particle can block up to one percent of the light and cause a 0.05 dB loss on a single-mode. A 9-micrometer speck is too small to view without a microscope, but a speck of this size can block a fiber core. This is why it’s so important to clean fiber optic connectors.

Types of Fiber Optic Cleaning Methods

  • Dry Cleaning – This type of cleaning method does not require the use of any solvent.
  • Wet Cleaning – This type of fiber optic cleaning requires the use of a solvent such as isopropyl alcohol.
  • Non-Abrasive Cleaning – This type of cleaning does not require the use of an abrasive material that will touch the fiber optic connector end face. Some of the most common non-abrasive cleaners are air dusters or pressured solvent jets used in automated connector cleaners.
  • Abrasive Cleaning – This method of cleaning employs the use of lint-free wipes such as Cletop sticks.

Preparation for the Cleaning Process

  • Always inspect your connectors or adapters before you begin the cleaning process.
  • Use the connector housing to plug or unplug a fiber.
  • Turn off any laser sources before you inspect and clean fiber connectors.
  • Disconnect the cables at both ends and remove the pluggable receiver from the chassis.
  • Store unused protective caps in a resealable container to prevent any transfer of dust to the fiber.
  • Discard any used tissues or swabs.

The Cleaning Process

  • Clean the fiber optic connectors with a dry cleaning technique.
  • Inspect the connector.
  • If the connector is dirty, repeat the dry cleaning technique and inspect the connector again.
  • Clean the connector with a wet cleaning technique if it’s still dirty.
  • Inspect the connector again.
  • Repeat these steps until the connector is clean.

Best Practices for the Cleaning Process
If you are using resealable containers, you should store the endcaps in separate containers and store all of the cleaning tools. The inside of the containers should be clean and the lid should be kept tight to avoid contamination. Do not allow the cleaning alcohol to evaporate slowly. This may leave a residue on the cladding or fiber core. It is often difficult to clean and can be more difficult to remove than the original contaminant.

Avoid These Common Mistakes
Do not use a cleaning process that will leave a residue on the end-face. Alcohol or wet cleaning processes are the most common procedures that will leave residue on the surface of the devices.

  • Do not touch the products without being properly grounded.
  • Do not connect the end face of the fiber connectors.
  • Do not twist or pull on the fiber cable forcefully.
  • Do not connect fiber to a fiberscope while system lasers are still on.
  • Do not touch the cleaned area with a swab, tissue, or cleaning fabric.
  • Do not reuse any tissues or swabs.
  • Do not touch a portion of the tissue or swab.
  • Do not use alcohol around an open flame or spark.

Extend the Life of Your Fiber Optic Connectors With Proper Cleaning Methods
Always extend the life of your fiber optic connectors by using one of these popular cleaning methods. They are safe to use and will prevent premature failure of your devices. Follow the instructions for more stability in your systems.

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