Best method to clean old slides?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by D.R., Jun 30, 2004.

  1. D.R.

    D.R. Guest

    Hi. I have got some old slides (about 30 years old) and they have
    little spots of mould on them. I have successfully scanned the ok
    slides, but need to clean the dirty ones. What is the safest method
    to clean slides without ruining them? My local shop wants to sell
    me special cleaner at US$30 a bottle - enough to last a lifetime.
    Its the stuff their own lab uses to clean slides. Any tips will be

    Many thanks.
    D.R., Jun 30, 2004
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  2. D.R.

    Kevin Guest

    Kodak told me that it was possible to clean slides with 100% or 99%
    alcohol. I used it to clean slides from the 40's and 50's before
    scanning and it worked fine
    Kevin, Jul 1, 2004
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  3. D.R.

    RSD99 Guest

    "Kevin" posted:
    Kodak told me that it was possible to clean slides with 100% or 99%
    alcohol. I used it to clean slides from the 40's and 50's before
    scanning and it worked fine

    Be careful with that ... Kodak's own literature states that Isopropyl Alcohol is one of
    the best cleaners ... for film made **after** the early 1950s ... and that it can ruin
    some of the earlier film base materials (primarily the Nitrate-based films).

    See specifically
    "Recommendations for Cleaning Photographic Materials"

    Do not use isopropyl alcohol to clean nitrate-based film manufactured before 1950. It may
    cause serious physical damage to the support and may accelerate deterioration of the

    [I've cleaned 1930s acetate-based B&W negatives with 99% Isopropyl ... and nothing has
    apparently happened to them ... **YET**.]

    "D.R." posted:
    "...My local shop wants to sell
    me special cleaner at US$30 a bottle - enough to last a lifetime.
    Its the stuff their own lab uses to clean slides. ..."

    They are probably talking about PEC-12, which is available many places for something more
    like $10.00 for a 4 ounce bottle. Works quite well ... almost as good as the old Kodak
    Negative Cleaners that were driven off the market by the EPA! PEC-12 is very good, but
    literally nothing will totally remove mould. It is actually a living, growing organism
    that has taken root in the lacquer layer covering the emulsion. It/they *can* be removed,
    but the film's emulsion will probably come off with it!

    Check the web ... do an 'exact match' search on


    should get you **many* sources at much more reasonable prices, including most of the major
    web camera "stores" like Adorama, B&H, Calumet, and etcetera.
    RSD99, Jul 1, 2004
  4. D.R.

    D.R. Guest

    manufactured before 1950. It may
    Hmm... the slides are Kodachrome color (says on the cardboard mounts)
    and were done in the late 50's early 60's. Actually, in those days my
    grandparents had to send their slide films from NZ to Australia to get
    processed (or was that printed).

    How do I know if the slides are nitrate-based?

    Many thanks.
    No hits in New Zealand, but I will ask my local camera shops.
    Actually, one shop just said to use Isopropyl alcamahol also.
    I guess they didn't think about the older slides.

    Many thanks.
    D.R., Jul 1, 2004
  5. Kodak's advice is at
    It says explicitely that you should not use a cleaner that contains water.
    Marvin Margoshes, Jul 1, 2004
  6. D.R.

    RSD99 Guest

    "... late 50's early 60's ..."

    Should **not** be any nitrate based slides in that date range. I'm sorry ... I missed the
    "late" in the reference to the 1950's.

    I don't know exactly when Kodak switched to acetate based films, but your original posting
    seemed to place the films *possibly* in the date range that Kodak gave ... which was
    "manufactured before 1950."

    One reference "on the web" gives the following additional information

    = = = = = Begin Quote = = = = =
    2. Dating Information. The dates Eastman Kodak stopped the manufacture of nitrate film
    follow. If a negative can be accurately dated, either by subject or by the photographer's
    notes, it is possible to determine if it is nitrate film.

    Type of Film Last Year of Nitrate Manufacture
    X-ray films 1933
    Roll films in size 135 1938 (A)
    Portrait and 1939
    Commercial sheet
    films (B)
    Aerial films 1942
    Film Packs (C) 1949
    Roll films in sizes 1950
    616, 620, etc. (D)
    Professional 35mm 1951
    Motion Picture films (E)


    (A) It has always been a common practice for photographers to purchase bulk rolls of 35mm
    motion picture film and respool it into cassettes for still camera use. So it is possible
    to find still camera negatives on nitrate film for an additional 13 year period after this

    (B) Nitrate sheet film tends to have a very thick and rigid base. Professional sheet film
    negatives will also have notches on one corner. These notches are used by photographers to
    determine the emulsion side in the dark.

    (C) Film pack negatives were produced in the same sizes as sheet film. Film packs used a
    much thinner and a very flexible based film. These negatives will feel like roll film.
    They lack a notch code, but may have a negative number, generally 1 through 12.

    (D) These sizes were called amateur roll film formats. Most families probably have a small
    number of these negatives stored in their home with no idea of the hazard they present.

    (E) Professional 35mm motion picture film represents the greatest hazard. All nitrate 35mm
    motion picture film should be duplicated by an authorized laboratory. Then the nitrate
    motion picture film should be disposed of through the local fire marshall or a hazardous
    materials disposal service. NOTE: 16mm, regular 8, and super 8 movie formats were
    considered amateur formats and were always made on a safety film base.

    Unfortunately Eastman Kodak is the only manufacturer that has supplied any dates on
    nitrate film production. These dates do not apply to other manufacturers' films. Nor do
    they give an indication of when Kodak started selling safety films. For example, nitrate
    sheet film production ended in 1939, but Kodak began test marketing safety based sheet
    film sometime in the mid 1920's. For most formats there was a carry over period when both
    types of film were made.

    = = = = = End Quote = = = = =
    RSD99, Jul 1, 2004
  7. D.R.

    D.R. Guest

    D.R., Jul 1, 2004
  8. D.R.

    D.R. Guest

    Thanks RSD99. :)

    D.R., Jul 1, 2004
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