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Fiber Optic Cleaning Swabs

Cleaning swabs are an excellent cleaning tool for inaccessible fiber optic connectors on the backplane while it is still connected to the alignment sleeve. They continue to be the most dependable cleaning method in these applications. Swabs are also a good cleaning solution for any fiber optic connector or crevice that is not reachable with a CCT Tool or QBE.

When possible, disconnect the plug from the backplane and clean the fiber optic cable using a QBE and the combination cleaning method. Additionally, clean the alignment sleeve with a small amount of solvent and the appropriate swab in order to avoid cross-contaminating the plugs. 

When disconnecting the backplane connector is not possible, a Chemtronics FOCCUS swab is the most effective cleaning method to clean the plugs in place. FOCCUS swabs clean the backplane connectors and alignment sleeves at the same time. 

  1. Choose the appropriate swab based on the size of the connector and the application.
      Choose a solvent from the chart above to use in conjunction with the swab. Select the relevant liquid Fiber-Wash for a pen application or the Electro-Wash PX for the aerosol packaging. Using solvent eliminates electrostatic charge that can be generated any time two dry surfaces are rubbed together.

    fiber optic connector types cleaning chart

    1. Spot a small amount of the selected liquid on to a QbE wipe. Dab/tap the swab onto the wetted area. Hold the tip of the swab in the moist area for a count of 1-2-3-4-5. The dampened tip of a Fiber- Wash pen can also be held directly to the swab in a similar manner. Do not saturate the swab.  Excessive solvent could carry contaminants to other surfaces.
    2. Insert the swab into the connector, press lightly against the connector, twist 2-3 times and remove.
    3. Dry with a second swab.
    4. Check your work with a fiberscope, OTDR, or other measurement instruments.

    Fiber optic connections should always be inspected and cleaned when necessary before connecting. Cleaning connectors dry yields inferior cleaning results and put an electric charge on the connector which may attract more contamination. Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is a poor fiber optic cleaner of common contaminants and its slow evaporation can cause the connector to pull outside contamination into the connection when mating. 

    The preferred method for connector cleaning is to use a small amount of solvent to dissolve the contamination, and then to dry the connector surface. This is done most effectively using a combination cleaning method, which combines the solvent and drying procedure. This method is effective for use with CCT Clear Connection Tools, QbE Cleaning Platforms, and FOCCUS swabs.  Each of these tools has advantages in different situations. The QBE is the most effective tool for cleaning unmated male connections. Swabs are the most effective tools for cleaning connectors inside the alignment sleeve. CCT tools are the most convenient tools and have the advantage of cleaning both unmated male connectors and connectors inside an alignment sleeve.

    So the secret is out! Spread the word about wet-to-dry Combination Cleaning so all installers can clean fiber optic connections the first time… every time.

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