How to Clean Fiber Optic Cable


How to Clean Fiber Optic Cable


Two Categories of Fiber Optic Connector Cleaning


When it comes to maintaining fiber optic cables, like those from SDGI, which range from Single Mode Fiber to complex Micromodule Optical Fiber Cable, it's crucial to ensure that connectors are kept clean. Fiber optic connectors are highly susceptible to contamination in various environments. Once dirt is detected on the connector end-face using a fiber optic microscope, it is essential to clean it properly. Currently, there are two main cleaning methods in the industry: contact and non-contact methods. This article will introduce and explain these two categories.


Contact Cleaning


1. Dust-Free Paper or Cloth

Using dust-free paper or cloth with isopropyl alcohol is a common method to clean the connector end-face. Dust-free paper is made from original wood pulp and processed to be low-lint, pure, highly absorbent, and gentle on surfaces. Non-woven fabric is tough yet soft, does not produce lint, is free from chemical impurities, and is less likely to cause allergic reactions. This method is simple and cost-effective, but the results are average.


2. Cartridge Cleaners

Cartridge cleaners, such as the Fiberclean cleaner equipped with a cleaning film, resemble old cassette tapes. They use a special rolled cleaning tape in a rotatable case. The principle involves using strong adhesive to remove dirt from the connector end-face. This method does not require alcohol, and each clean is very effective. However, sometimes the adhesive may remain on the connector end-face, and since the tape is a consumable item and cannot be reused in the same area, this method is more costly.


3. Special Cleaning Sticks (Pens)

Special cleaning sticks (or pens) are designed for cleaning the insides of fiber optic adapters or hard-to-reach core faces. They resemble pens, with one end that can extend into the adapter's ceramic sleeve. Common types include 1.25mm for cleaning LC connectors and 2.5mm for cleaning FC/SC/ST connectors. These can work with cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol or with strong adhesive.


Non-Contact Cleaning


1. Ultrasonic Cleaning Method

Those involved in fiber optic ferrule polishing know that ultrasonic cleaningis a step after polishing connectors to remove glue and dirt from the ferrule end-face. Portable ultrasonic cleaning devices are now available on the market. The challenge lies in turning the cleaning fluid into an ultrasonic liquid columnin such a small space and then effectively collecting and drying the waste fluid. The process takes several seconds, with no contact with the connector other than the cleaning area, leaving no harmful residue. These devices are simple to operate, portable, and can be used on-site.


2. High-Pressure Air Blowing

This method involves applying cleaning fluid to the connector end-face and then blowing it with high-pressure air. Its advantage is its speed, requiring only a few seconds, but there are drawbacks like randomly flying air particles that could leave residues. Additionally, it's inconvenient to use in places without access to high-pressure air. The choice of cleaning method should consider the product performance requirements, the environment, and the cost. The most important factor is not just the selection of detection and cleaning methods but adhering to standard operating procedures during installation and maintenance to ensure the fiber optic end-face remains uncontaminated.


Ensuring Long-Term Cleanliness


To maintain long-term cleanliness and stable operation of the connector end-face in a fiber optic link system or device, it's crucial to go beyond just choosing the right detection and cleaning methods. Adherence to standard operating procedures during installation and maintenance is key. This involves:


1. Preventive Measures

Implement preventive measures to avoid contamination in the first place. This includes using dust caps on connectors and adapters when not in use and handling connectors with care to prevent touching the end-faces.


2. Regular Inspections

Regular inspections with a fiber optic microscope are vital. These inspections help identify contamination issues before they impact the performance of the fiber optic system. Routine checks can prevent significant problems down the line.


3. Proper Training

Ensure that personnel handling fiber optics are properly trained. This training should cover the correct methods of cleaning, handling, and inspecting fiber optic connectors. Skilled and knowledgeable technicians are less likely to cause damage or contamination.


4. Quality Cleaning Tools

Use high-quality cleaning tools that are designed specifically for fiber optic connectors. Avoid using materials that can leave residues or cause damage to the delicate fiber optic surfaces.


5. Documentation and Tracking

Maintain records of cleaning and inspection. This helps in tracking the health of the fiber optic network and can be useful in diagnosing issues that may arise.


6. Environmental Control

Where possible, control the environment where fiber optics are used and stored. Dust, humidity, and other environmental factors can contribute to contamination.


7. Regular Updates on Techniques

Stay updated with the latest cleaning and maintenance techniques. The fiber optics field is continually evolving, and staying informed about new methods and tools can significantly improve maintenance quality.



The maintenance and cleaning of fiber optic cable and connectors are as much about the precision of the cleaning method as it is about the overall approach to care and maintenance. By combining effective cleaning techniques with a comprehensive maintenance strategy that includes preventive measures, regular inspections, proper training, and staying abreast of technological advancements, the longevity and efficiency of fiber optic systems can be significantly enhanced. This holistic approach not only ensures the optimal performance of fiber optic links but also contributes to the overall reliability and longevity of the communication systems they support.