Nightmare! You’ve found your favourite slides for photo scanning, and they’re dirty. Not only that, but they have mould too! It is an awful feeling finding your memories have been tarnished by dust and debris floating around your attic. Thankfully, with this guide to cleaning 35mm slides, you can restore your photos before preserving them with a scanning service.

There are a couple of rules to cleaning slides, the main notion being that less contact with the photo is better. By working through this guide, you can minimise contact with the slide to prevent any further damage.

Before beginning, wear cotton gloves to prevent any natural oils or dirt on your hands leaving marks or softening the emulsion on the slide.

1. Use compressed air to remove dust and debris.

The rule of thumb when cleaning 35mm slides is to minimise contact with the photo to prevent any further damage. By using compressed air, you remove any light dirt from the slide without scratching the image.

It should be noted that blowing on your slide is a bad idea. The moisture from your mouth can damage the emulsion on the slide and cause it to be in a worst position than when you started.

2. Wipe your slide with a microfibre cloth

Sometimes, dirt needs a little more persuasion to get off your slide. Gently rub your slide with a microfibre cloth to remove more significant marks. Take care when touching your slide because dirt can scratch photos if rubbed too hard.

3. Use isopropyl alcohol and a cotton pad for mould.

This third stage is for the worst scenario. If your slide has mould on it, then you should use isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol-based cleaner must be 99.9% alcohol and have a neutral pH level because any water on your slide will soften and damage the emulsion.

Pour the cleaner onto the cotton pad and lightly wipe the slide. If the slide is damp, leave it out to dry before remounting the photo.

4. Edit out any marks using photo editing software.

Unfortunately, ther17e is a limit to how much you can clean a slide before damaging it. If your slide has scratches, mould, or heavy marks on it, editing is a better option. After digitising your photos, download Adobe Photoshop for their spot removal tool to remove any unwanted scratches or marks on your photos.

Alternatively, you can use a slide scanning service, like Digital Converters. They will professionally clean, digitise, and correct any unwanted marks or colouring issues for you without the need of paying for Photoshop.