Tips on Keeping Fiber Optic Cable Clean

Tips on Keeping Fiber Optic Cable Clean

Here’s a rule of thumb that we learn during fiber optic technician training: keeping fiber optic connections clean is important in maintaining the performance of optical communication networks. Contaminated fiber even if only at minute amounts, may lead to severe problems.

Dirt caught between connector end faces may forever damage the fiber core.

Dust or dirt is quite easy to remove in comparison to oils and films, which inevitably occur due to natural causes as human contact, evaporation and condensation.

Dry Cleaning of Cable

You can apply moderate pressure to a cassette cleaner to wipe the connector end with a cleaning cloth. For angled physical contact (APC) polished connectors, always ensure that the whole end-face surface makes contact with the cloth. This process will remove contamination caused by airborne particles and should be done initially. Check the connector end-face for remaining dirt afterwards.

Another method commonly used is to utilize single fiber In-bulkhead cleaners specifically made for either angled physical contact (APC) or physical contact (PC) polished connectors. These devices insert a cleaning cloth through the head while it spins. The cleaning cloth is pushed forward to make sure it is clean. Regularly check the connector end-face for dirt after cleaning.

Using Wet Cleaning

Moist the part of a lint free cloth using an alcohol-based fiber optic cleaning solution. Apply moderate pressure, then wipe the end-face against the moist area and then into dry parts to remove any dirt from the end-face.

For angled physical constant connectors, always ensure that the whole end-face surface makes contact with the cleaning cloth. Wet cleaning is more abrasive compared to dry cleaning, and will clean airborne dirt, including oil based contaminants. Do dry cleaning, as mentioned after wet cleaning and check the connector end-face for remaining dirt.

Dry Cleaning Tips

Insert the cleaning stick tip into the adapter until it contacts the connector on the other end. You can purchase cleaning sticks with the following sizes: 1.25 mm ferrule connectors (LCs) and 2.5 mm ferrule connectors (SC and ST).

Spin the cleaning stick with moderate pressure in a circular patter as it is being detached from the adapter.

Wet Cleaning Tips

Put in the moist cleaning stick with an alcohol-based fiber optic cleaning solution into the adapter until it makes contact with the connector on the other end. Spin the cleaning stick with slight pressure in one rotating motion as it is removed from the adapter.

How to Clean a Contaminated Multi-Fiber Array Connector (MPO) and Adapter

You can go ahead and purchase special cleaners that you can be use for unpinned (PC and APC) or unpinned MPO connectors. For APC MPO connectors do make sure that the whole end-face surface touches the cleaning cloth. Another technique is to use reel based MPO In-bulkhead cleaner which are exclusively made for cleaning MPO connectors.

A Word of Caution

Since compressed air products may put moisture and propellant debris on sensitive optical surface, I do not advice that you use any canned air product when you clean the surface of fiber optic connections.

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