Best Practice Cleaning Fiber — What's the Right Technique?

When cleaning fiber, it is absolutely essential that you follow best practices techniques to get perfectly clean end faces before mating. This means (a) cleaning and inspecting both end-faces every time they are mated, (b)  using a fast-drying solvent engineered for fiber optic cleaning, (c) using the right kind of wipe (for jumpers) or swabs (for ports), and (d) only using them once.

But how should those tools be used? Specifically, what is the best cleaning process for jumpers? Do I take my wipe and just rub the end-face? Is there a “best practice” for wiping?

The answer is, yes there is. The best practice for cleaning fiber is to wipe in a straight line, once. As shown on the illustration below (“A”),  place a clean, lint-free wipe on a firm (but not hard) surface and wipe once, in one direction, one time. If you can, gently spin the end-face between your fingers perhaps 1/4 of turn as you wipe. This will produce a perfectly clean end-face on the first time 99%+ of the time.

Do not re-use the wipe. Everytime a fiber end-face is dragged across the wipe, the internal structure of the wipe is damaged. Fibers are ripped and particulate is created. Re-using a wipe will allow that particulate to be re-deposited on to the end-face.

Proper Technique for Wiping Fiber Optic End faces

The two incorrect ways to clean an end-face (“B”) are the popular “figure 8” method of cleaning and the “back and forth” method. The “figure 8” method doesn’t work because it allows the wipe to re-deposit residues back on the end-face. The scrubbing back-and-forth method is even less useful because not only are you re-depositing residues on to the end-face, you’re actually creating more residues as the end-faces rips up the surface of the wipe.

The CleanWipes™ 640 from Sticklers® institutionalizes this proper cleaning technique. It has eight slots on the top of the box and the wipe lays on top of those slots. The connector is pulled along those slots and the unique, high-modulus fabric (not flimsy cellulose-and-glue paper) of the wipe cleans the end-face. This virtually guarantees a clean end-face the first time, every time.

Contact your local Sticklers distributor for more details about the CleanWipes™ 640 and the ways in which is will lower your cost-per-cleaning.

The Sticklers™ CleanWipes 640 makes it easy for techs to use the optimal, "one-way only" cleaning technique to get clean fiber end-faces on jumpers.
The Sticklers™ CleanWipes 640 makes it easy for techs to use the optimal, “one-way only” cleaning technique to get clean fiber end-faces on jumpers.