There are many products that can be used to clean fiber end-faces, and they're made by many different companies to many different standards. So let us be blunt: just because they can be used doesn’t mean they should be used.
In our experience, the very cheapest swabs are made from 'reticulated foam.' Google it. Foam is extremely dirty because the pores in the foam are exploded with a high vapor pressure refrigerant. This leaves debris all over the swab, which is going to get on to your end-faces. These cheap swabs cannot compete in functionality and cost-effectiveness with the Sticklers® CleanStixx™ swabs.
Another choice are cloth swabs, wrapped around a metal or plastic core. These have dimensional problems that limits their cleaning effectiveness, and their 'pointed' shape leads to poor cleaning of the dome-shape fiber end-face. Think about it — how can a pencil-like shape clean a dome-shaped end-face?
Sticklers® CleanStixx™ swabs are absolutely the cleanest, most effective, engineered fiber cleaning tool.
Microphotographs of four different fiber cleaning sticks, compared
Take a look at these microphotographs of competing swabs.
You can easily see:
- The Sticklers tips are extremely clean, without fibers or loose particles
- The tip is flat and will scrub the entire end-face, not just the contact area.
- They are the right shape (not pointed or round)
- They are dimensionally very consistent so there is room inside the alignment sleeve to “wobble” back and forth, which means they clean the whole end-face
- These are made in the MicroCare clean room in our unique assembly process; they are NOT molded or “blown” like reticulated foam (another source of particulate).
In contrast, the foam and cloth swabs are bent in shape, vary in size, some are too big to fit into the ferrule and so they’re squeezed on the sides (which means they can only spin, not scrub); cloth swabs leave fibers (white arrows A and B) while reticulated foam is a very dirty material that will leave particulate (another white arrow).