Distress Your Film by Putting It Through a Dishwasher Cycle

There’s a subgroup of film photographers who are dedicated to coming up with inventive new ways to distress film in order to achieve unexpected — and occasionally beautiful — results. Last year we shared that soaking film in rubbing alcohol does strange things to your images. Here’s another crazy idea: put a roll of film through the dishwasher. Photographer Tom Welland did just that and ended up with some vintage-looking photos.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Put a roll of film through a dishwasher wash cycle
  2. Let it sit around for a few days
  3. Pull it out of the can in a darkroom and dry it carefully using a hairdryer
  4. Roll the film back into the can
  5. Shoot and process the film like you normall would

Welland does warn that you should probably check with a commercial lab before you drop off dishwashed film — the film may ruin their processing chemicals.

Dishwashed Film (via KEH Camera Blog)

Image credits: Photographs by Tom Welland

  • Aaro Keipi

    Dishwasher=1980s photoshop

  • -MARS- Photography

    Try removing the rear element of your lens and soaking that in warm water, then draining it. and allowing it to dry.  Of course you don’t want to do this with your favorite lens, but there are quite a few cheapo m42 lenses out there that you can easily do this to with a simple spanner wrench.  I must mention, that its will be useless for anything else after you do this… but it definitely will allow for some amazing editing.

  • Romanium

    try also fully pulling the film out of its protective can and smearing peanut butter over it evenly(crunchy Jif works best). for a nice even tone shove it back in the case and you’re ready for some super fun shots.

  • kendon

    not sure if there is a language barrier, but do you suggest putting the rear element in warm water, that’s it? don’t see it do anything, and if it’s a joke i guess i missed the punchline…

  • ennuipoet

    Alternatively, you can get a really expensive camera…let’s say a Leica and just beat the crap out of it with a ball peen hammer!  The light leaks would look amazing! 

  • 9inchnail

    Process the film like you normally would and have a clown puke on your photos for some really interesting colors and textures.

  • CEEA

    Great idea. But a little bit too dangerous for me. :)

  • Joe

    I would love to do this.  What detergent works best?  Will the photos look more lomo if use all natural detergent or the powerful stuff?  Also.. should I use liquid or powder?  I’m currently using Cascade ultra shine

  • Cameron

    Quick develop the Alcohol Rub Filter, Dishwasher Filter, Hairdryer Filter, Frozen Film Filter, Oops I Spilled My Coffee Filter…

  • Flgraphics

    I don’t buy this.. Hipsters don’t own dishwashers

  • donuts222

    love being able to find ways to do what would normally be done in photoshop with the film itself!!! definitely gotta try this

  • stanimir stoyanov

    You’ve gotta applaud the inventiveness that unemployment provides hipsters with.

  • thehiker

    I would suggest not eating anything from the dish ao glass that goes in with the film unless you like dye.

  • Jimmy Green

    left it sit on my dash for a month filter…

  • Jim T May

    1. Take photo of modern object (iPad, etc.)
    2. Dishwasher
    3. Slip it in grandma’s old photo album that she always showing to other people
    4. ???
    5. Trollface

  • Jameschand

    take photos in a really sweaty environment and when your changing film just sweat onto the first strip of the roll….

  • hatson

    how do i make sure the room is dark enough?

  • pakla

    Isn’t this just another way of washing off the anti-halation layer, as well as diluting/weakening the dyes in the film?