I have been digitizing old family negatives, mostly 35mm from the 1970s-1990s and I'm trying to remove as much dust as possible.

I would like to be able to wash the negatives in water – of all the methods I've tried (various alcohols, blowers, wipes), this does by far the best job of removing dust embedded in the emulsion – but I've read that water washing will destabilize the dyes, and it should be followed by washing in a stabilizer containing formalin.

As I understand it, the formaldehyde in formalin locks in the gelatin around the blobs of dye in older colour films, and also has antifungal/antibiotic properties, preventing damage from mould growth.

One recommended product, Kodak Flexicolor Stabilizer III, doesn't seem to be sold any more. Does anyone know of a substitute that would do the same thing?


1 Answer 1


Don't wash with water if you can avoid - use film cleaner available for cine film. Try Filmrenew - search web for supplier. Formaldehyde was removed from stabilizer years ago. It was replaced by a mix of common film wetting agents plus a mild fungicide. If you must wash, and can't find a modern stabilizer, just use PhotoFlow or equivalent. You are digitizing because old color films fade. How likely are you to ever use the negatives again to make a print? Also, the gelatin naturally hardens as it ages, not likely that the dyes will migrate.


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