How to Clean Fiber Connectors
It is important to periodically inspect your fiber optic cables for any signs of contamination. Oil, dust, and other particles invisible to the human eye can have detrimental effects on a fiber optic cable’s functionality.
It is vital when installing or inspecting a fiber optic cable that the work area is decontaminated, and proper clothing and other personal protective equipment are worn. These include safety gloves and personal protection for your eyes, such as eye goggles.
Methods of Cleaning
The fiber optic cable itself — including the interior of the cable — does not need to be cleaned. The connector does.
There are three main types of cleaning methods used for cleaning fiber optics connectors – dry cleaning, cleaning with isopropyl alcohol, and wet cleaning. Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages. However, a combination of these methods is usually the most effective.
Dry cleaning refers to cleaning optical connectors with a dry wipe or swab. This is a very common method; however, it can be risky and difficult to remove soils. In addition, using the wrong type of fabric can create static or leave behind fibers.
Using isopropyl alcohol (IPA) to clean connectors is not highly recommended and there is need for excessive caution if used. IPA is not an effective cleaner for many of the soils that may contaminate optical connections. It also can potentially leave behind residue if cleaning is not followed by a dry clean. IPA is also slow to evaporate and therefore connectors are often still wet when mated.
Wet cleaning refers to using an excessive amount of solvent to clean optical fiber connectors. Overuse of solvent can result in flooding the side of the ferrule, thereby increasing the chance of cross-contamination. Very little solvent is needed to break the static charge and dissolve the soils that contaminate optical connectors.
Using a combination of these methods will often yield the best result when cleaning fiber optical connectors. A combination method requires a small amount of solvent to be used as well as a proper fiber cleaning fabric. A tiny amount of solvent is placed onto the wipe which is then used to clean off all the contaminants. This method solves the challenges of wet cleaning and dry cleaning while providing a superior end result.
There are professional precision tools used to clean connectors that you can obtain from a trusted supplier, fiber optics cable manufacturer or vendor. Different tools are available, designed for use with the type of connector you are cleaning. Using the proper tool, one specifically designed for MPO connectors and/or LC connectors, will yield the best results.
Talk to a Vitex product expert if you have any questions on handling fiber.