Clean Sweep: How to Clean Fiber Optic Connectors for Optimal Performance

Published on April 17, 2020 by Jace Waechter

 

Do you know how crucial it is to maintain clean fiber connectors?

 

85% of all failures in fiber optic networks can be attributed to contaminated fiber connectors. (Lang & Carter, 2016) Dust, oil, lint and other microscopic particles are the main enemy to your network’s high-speed data transmissions. Most of these particles are invisible to the naked eye but are large enough to block the entire core diameter of a single mode connector. And any disruption in the connection will increase signal attenuation and return loss and have the potential to cause permanent damage.

 

“You can’t assume that any connector, even one fresh off the shelf, is adequately clean. Even the dust cap used to protect the ferrule can be a source of contamination on your connector’s end face. So, the question is: How do you clean your fiber optic connector?”


 

Fiber Optic Connector Cleaning Process

 

Begin by moistening a lint-free, soft-fiber cloth with a fiber-optic cleaning solution or at least 91% or over isopropyl alcohol. Take the cloth and apply medium pressure to the LC connectors exposed ferrule and drag, in a straight line, from the wet area to the dry area. Avoid twisting or turning motions, as these can redeposit particles or grind contaminates into the end face. Inspect the end face with a 200x or 400X microscope and remove potential residue if necessary.


 

 

The Golden Rule

 

Can you guess the golden rule for fiber optic connector cleaning? The golden rule is to ALWAYS inspect before you connect. Contamination is the number-one threat to optical networks. Even the act of cleaning itself can be a source of contamination. So, for those who say they do not have time to inspect, we ask, do they have time to fix a costly contamination issue?


 

Our Recommended Cleaning Technique

 

 

Clean the connector (using a solvent.)

 

  • Using a lint free wipe or reel cleaner, lightly apply the solvent to the corner of the wipe surface.
  • Lightly press the connector endface into the wet section of the wipe, and draw it in a straight line into the dry section of the wipe.
  • Avoid excessive dry cleaning.Pro Tip #1:

 

Inspect at high-magnification, then connect.

 

  • Use a probe or hand-held scope to examine the connector endface prior to installation.
  • Ensure that all contamination and residual solvent has been removed.
  • If there are still particles present, please repeat the cleaning steps prior to installing.Pro Tip #2:

More resources on this topic:

1.25mm Click Cleaner for LC and MU fiber connectors2.5mm Click Cleaner for ST, SC and FC connectorsLint-free optical grade dry wipes by KimtechOpticPrep Solvent Cleaning Wipe (50 qty)

Megladon Logo
About Megladon

A global industry leader in fiber optics and your premier partner for fiber optic connectivity, Megladon has spent over a decade developing fiber optic technology and perfecting the HLC interconnect. Our patented technology and process results in a reference grade interconnect that is reliable, rugged, repeatable and provides maximum performance. With millions of our products deployed worldwide, our fiber optic technology has been proven time and again to solve many of the problems encountered in network deployment and maintenance. We have also been able to use HLC as the foundation piece to develop unique and passive fiber optic solutions for our customers.