I went camping on the beach over the weekend. One of the scenic areas I went to was very windy and had waves crashing hard against some rocks. So there was a lot if sea spray in the air which constantly blasted my camera (Nikon D5100). The lens needed a good wipe every 2-3 minutes.

In hind sight maybe I should have covered up the microphone hole and maybe attached a lens hood just to help a little.

Is there any good way to clean the camera after this sort of treatment?

3 Answers 3


Non professional user perspective comment: There are no guarantees but in many cases it has a reasonable chance of being OK if cleaned well externally. Significant salt water INSIDE a system will destroy it in time. If you can afford it, professional cleaning will give peace of mind. If you wish to gamble then there is a good chance of winning if you clean externally s best you can.

I'd be as worried about the lens as about the camera. I'd do lens as well as camera cleaning as below with lens at full zoom.

Use a clean absorbent cloth (such as a facecloth or toweling), make very damp but not dripping and clean all over the exterior several times.

If you are not averse to sticking things in your mouth (some people are very much so, some care little), before you start clean a finger in fresh water, wet it in fresh water, wipe finger tip over camera and taste you fingertip. Salt will be tastable prior to any cleaning. After cleaning it should be not able to be tasted. (Licking you camera achieves this more directly :-) ).

Remove lens and see if there is any hint of water intrusion. If there is ANY sign that salt water has got in you probably want to ask about professional cleaning.

If you are confident of your ability to touch thing in the mirror box you could consider cleaning all surfaces that you are sure are not going to be damaged with a dampened bud. It would be very unwise to touch any mirror or optical screen surfaces with anything. (Lens surfaces are OK).

  • I licked it :) There was a bit of salt but not as much as I thought there would be. Giving it a good wipe with a damp cloth seems to have done a good job :) Jul 23, 2012 at 22:35

It should be cleaned as quickly as possible to avoid corrosion. I usually rinse mine under the tap for 30s or so but would ruin yours.

Instead get a moist but not dripping towel and wipe all around. Then dry the camera. If you see white spots, repeat.

  • You rinse your camera under a tap? Jul 22, 2012 at 23:28
  • @Nippysaurus - if you get to pay more than $4000 new it is probably tap rinsable as a bonus. D3, 1D Mkxxx, ... Jul 23, 2012 at 5:33
  • @Nippysaurus Some more expensive DSLR are rain-proof, so yes you can rinse them under a tap as long as you don't submerge it in water. Only a feature for the more expensive top models, tho.
    – Gapton
    Jul 23, 2012 at 6:22
  • That's actually quite interesting. Good to know :) Jul 23, 2012 at 6:33
  • 2
    Yes. If you get things like sand encrusted around all the buttons and textures of the camera, rinsing under tap is the best way to clean it as long as your camera AND lens can take it. I have done this many times, including this week, to a Pentax K-5 and K-7.
    – Itai
    Jul 23, 2012 at 17:36

Take it to a Nikon shop and have it cleaned by a pro. These things cost too much, so when you abuse them, why not get them cleaned out the right way?

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