Sensor Gel Stick: Safely Clean Your Sensor Like They Do at the Service Center


Sensor cleaning, especially if you’ve never tried to do it yourself, is a scary prospect. Sure, taking off your lens and using a rocket blower isn’t all that nerve-wracking, but start talking to someone about wet cleaning a sensors and beads of perspiration will immediately begin to accumulate on their newly-furrowed brow.

Fortunately, there’s a cleaning solution now available that is easy and safe enough that many a sensor-cleaning newb will want to give it a try: the Sensor Gel Stick.

The Sensor Gel Stick is nothing new. In fact, it’s what at least a few manufacturers use in their service centers (check out this video and skip to about minute 13:30 for proof). But until now, we’ve not seen it available for the average consumer.


The basic premise is simple: it’s a stick with a piece of sticky gel on one end that you simply press and remove over and over to pull all of the dust and oil off of your sensor. When the gel gets dirty enough, you pull out a piece of sticky paper, remove the dirt and keep going.

The folks over at Fstoppers got to take the gel stick for a test drive, and were pretty well impressed. Bellow you see Patrick Hall cleaning first an ND filter, then his D300s and then a D600 — and all seem to show remarkable improvement after just one go-around:

As you can see, it seems both easy and safe to use. Just stick and pull… over and over again. You won’t have to worry about leaving behind a residue like you might with wet cleaning, and since the big guys use this in their own factories, it seems likely they’ve deemed the process safe.

The one thing we wouldn’t do if we were you is clean the mirror like Hall does in the video above. Not that the gel stick wouldn’t take dust off well, but messing with that mirror could throw it out of alignment and then you’d have an entirely different set of issues to deal with.

To find out more about the Sensor Gel Stick, or if you’d like to pick up one of your own, head over to Photography Life by clicking here. The stick will cost you $40 and packs of the companion sticky paper are $13. If that seems expensive, just compare that to how much it costs to send off your DSLR to be cleaned at the service center… in very short order, you’ll end up ahead.

(via Fstoppers)

  • Gaetan Cormier

    Pentax is offering a very similar product for a long time. I’ve been using it for a few years and it works like a charm!!

  • InTheMist

    Sold! Ordering now.

  • The Dark Horse

    How much?????

  • Nasim Mansurov

    There is only one manufacturer that makes these sticks and Pentax is simply a re-brand of the same product :)

  • Jonathan Maniago

    Currently using Lenspen’s SensorKlear which is more 4 times cheaper, but that usually requires 2 – 5 passes (remove lens, wipe, attach lens, take a test image for checking, repeat). On the bright side, it’s smaller and more portable.

    I suppose studios or camera rental services would find the Sensor Gel Stick more efficient.

  • Adam Cross

    I’ve wet cleaned my sensor before, the alcohol+swab method and never had a problem but this looks less fussy, will have to check it next time my sensor needs a clean.

  • Christian DeBaun

    DL Cade : “Check out this video and skip to about minute 13:30 for proof”

    I think you meant 8:30, the video is only 12:39 long. :-)

  • Joey Miller

    We’ve been using Dust-Aid’s version of this for a couple of years now:

    Retails for $30 direct from them, and extra cleaning strips are $10. And by “we” I mean the rental house I work for (starts with a Lens, ends with a Rentals). It’s great for most things except the really stuck on stuff. We still resort to wet cleaning from time to time, but usually try the Arctic Butterfly before bringing out the cleaning fluids. LensPen Sensor Klear is also popular here, but you have to watch out for the residue it can leave behind sometimes. Same with the Dust-Aid, so you have to be careful with your cleaning. We have more issues with Nikon sensors with Dust-Aid residue than Canons. Not sure why, but maybe it’s differences in coatings or something. Humidity affects the effectiveness of the stamp, too, just something to keep in mind.

  • Sid Ceaser

    I just tried placing an order but have no idea if it went though – there is no indication once clicking “submit”. I’ve contacted them via their email. Hopefully there are no ordering difficulties.

  • Reagan D Pufall

    I picked one up, no regrets. I’ve trouble getting full clean but it’s understandable if you consider where my camera has been and where it’s gone. I enjoy that it has sticky sides, it allows for clean up for the whole area (minus the shutter) which can accumulate dust which then falls onto the sensor after cleaning. No complaints, excellent product.

  • fast eddie

    My order went through fine. Got a confirmation email, too.

  • David Liang

    Ohhh I like…definitely on the buy list.

  • Ivan Makarov

    Leica uses these to get their cameras ready as well when they’re making them.

  • Nasim Mansurov

    Joey, I have tried the Dust-Aid product before and it is a very different tool compared to this one. The silicon tip is not very sticky and it did not do a very good job with removing particles on my sensor. After the first couple of uses, the silicon started getting detached from the plastic and I ended up trashing it (mine was probably a lemon). The sensor gel stick is attached firmly on the plastic stick/wand and it has a more sticky property, so it does a much better job in removing stuff that is stuck on the AA filter in my experience. LensPen can be good, but it also often leaves dark particles on the sensor and obviously has a smaller surface area.

    I will reach out to Roger Cicala today regarding the product and will send a few samples for you guys to try out. Let me know what you think!

  • Joey Miller

    That would be great! I showed the cleaners this new device, and they seemed interested. We’d love to test it out.

  • Nasim Mansurov

    Just sent an email to Roger. Will send a couple your way this afternoon / tomorrow morning.

  • Nasim Mansurov

    Sid, I am responding to your email right now – please try again using a different browser, since your order did not go through. Google Chrome works great and I think some versions of IE cause problems.

  • Nasim Mansurov

    Thank you for your feedback Reagan!

  • John

    You have to lose respect for the sensor. Today I cleaned mine for the first time. Used some cleasing fluid I bought on Amazon + q-tips. Wasn’t perfectly happy, so I used some special cleaning cloth with a plastic tool – that worked perfectly fine. Just do it!

  • Jigsaw

    Seriously? The price is in the article AND the video.

  • Rob S

    Try the other way around. the Pentax product has been available for a LONG time.

  • Rob S

    Arctic butterfly

    Amazing product

  • Björn Lubetzki

    The Arctic butterfly may be a really nice tool, for dust (might have a problem with oil) but it is a hack of a lot more expensive than the Stick

  • Wilba

    They are referring to the video in the link – “check out this video” – not the one embedded in this page.

  • Will Mederski

    i have a shutter count of 50k+ on my D7000, and only use fixed lenses, which means LOTS of exposing the guts of the camera to potential dust and dirt.

    and the rare case of spots actually turning up in am image can be dealt with using the clone tool.

    i still don’t understand why people spend so much money on knickknacks and risk damaging their sensor to remove a couple specs of dust…

  • Martin

    It’s not just “a couple specs of dust” people are cleaning. When you have a dozen specs of dust on dozens of images, it adds up to a lot of processing. Time is money, so it ends up being cheaper to clean the sensor.

    It’s not as harrowing as people think it is. I use the Copper Hill method. Don’t go overboard with the cleaning liquid, and don’t let the plastic spatula thing touch the sensor (actually the filter over the sensor).

  • Rob S

    Yeah I paid $60 for mine so it made more sense.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    I clean my 5D sensor myself with a rocket blower like once a year… However, once when I cleaned it, a large spot somehow got stuck on the sensor and wouldn’t go away. Luckily I worked at a newspaper at the time that would pay for the cleaning service at Canon, so it didn’t cost me anything.

    But what I wanted to say is, don’t be so harsh. I’m much like you, I don’t really care that much about my cameras, you get used to mistreating them when working as a photojournalist. However, sometimes, you HAVE to get them cleaned, you don’t want to sit and clone that large spot of dust every day, for every photo. Even if you use the automatic dust remover that Canon at least has, it would bug me that I have a piece of information there that always will get cut off.

  • imajez

    I just lick my elbow and use that to clean sensor.

  • Sean Walsh

    Three easy payments of $29.95.

  • Steven

    And that’s why I gave up on the Camera Obscura. My tongue no
    longer stretches to the elbow.

  • Zos Xavius

    Leica was using the Pentax sticks somewhat recently. I don’t know if that is still true, but pentax has had this product around for a very long time.

  • Zos Xavius

    If you are like me and shoot at > F8 often you will have problems with dust eventually. Especially if you shoot with primes and swap a lot. I probably wet clean a 3-4 months. The clone tool is great until you have hundreds of pictures with the same dust spots that you have to clone out of every single one. It gets tedious to put it mildly. Wet cleaning isn’t nearly as scary as you think once you’ve done it a few times. Just don’t over juice and don’t let cleaning fluid run over the sides of the filter and you’ll be fine.

    edit: sometimes wet cleaning is necessary too. a blower or brush won’t remove stuck pollen that picked up moisture.

  • imajez

    I hope that’s the only age related soft tissue shrinkage.

  • Nasim Mansurov

    Rob, Pentax was the first company to sell to end users in the US. The manufacturer is the same (Eyelead Germany) – they have been selling the product to Pentax for many years and Pentax simply re-brands it under their name.

  • Nasim Mansurov

    Zos, the product has not been invented by Pentax. The same manufacturer has been selling the product for many years and Pentax simply re-branded it and sold it to customers under their name. Basically, the manufacturer OEM’d it to Pentax. Until now, Eyelead was not selling to end users – it was purely selling it to big companies, including Pentax.

  • Jeremy Madore

    Just got my “eyelead” sensor cleaner in today (the stick this article discusses) and I am super impressed. After two passes, the sensor is nearly spotless! Check out for yourself below.

  • Dan

    One nice thing about this product is that it is airline travel-friendly since there are no liquids, batteries or motors.

  • Eddie

    Just ordered one, but, it’s on backorder. Dang it.

  • Mike

    Q-tips. Really? You might as well use flannel.

  • Christian

    Will this product work with the D7100 being there is no lowpass filter? I do not know that it makes a difference or not so please tell me?

  • Richards

    Sheesh they’ve already increased the price to $50, and it’s on backorder. I think I may try the product the others are recommending via Pentax. Greedy, greedy, greedy!

  • Michael

    Good point Christian. Maybe some of the gentlemen over here can answer this question. I have not tried it yet but it would be interesting to know if it can actually remove tiny oil stanes from the sensor.

  • Martin Phelps

    I bought one of these (a genuine one, from Eyelead in Germany), and used it once, exactly as instructed, on a Nikon D4. It pulled up a piece of the IR coating on the sensor. I sent it to Nikon UK for repair. I now have a repair bill for £1440, despite the camera still being in warranty. Nikon won’t honour the warranty, and say I shouldn’t have been cleaning my sensor. They also claim no knowledge of the product and David Phillips – head of Nikon customer services in the UK – says they don’t use any Eyelead products and have no connection with the company (despite a lot of people claiming that Nikon use Eyelead in their service centres). So, Nikon have washed their hands of it, and Eyelead claim the problem was with manufacture of the sensor on the D4 and not a problem with their product. Eyelead have offered a replacement Gel Stick – an offer which for obvious reasons I’m reluctant to accept.