I'm going to photograph a surgery in an operating room, and although I'll be using an special sterile cover for my camera, I've been asked to disinfect my equipment too.

I wonder if it is ok to use isopropyl alcohol on the camera's body? Do you think alcohol's vapor has any effect on camera's internal parts? For example, the sensor...

I'm not sure about the situation and size of the room yet, but I probably have to stay out of sterile field anyway, then I may be able to skip the disinfecting part. But if not, will cleaning the camera with alcohol be okay?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Alcohol can be used for lots of things, improve the appearance of photos, to take better photos, or to entice subject matter. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Oct 12, 2012 at 12:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry but I don't really understand what you mean. are you talking about digital or analog photography?! \$\endgroup\$
    – Omne
    Oct 12, 2012 at 21:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Alcohol does not conduct electricity so its usually safe to use on electronics. However there is a small chance that some unusual paint/rubber/plastic may be discolored or damaged. The sensor though, should of course stay away from alcohol. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gapton
    Nov 6, 2012 at 9:57

2 Answers 2


A lot of camera and lens cleaning fluids contain alcohol. Some do not and - of course - they claim it's better, but it does not make alcohol unsafe.

The outside of the camera can be cleaned with something moistened in alcohol without adverse effects. Do not use so much as to make the camera wet, particularly if yours is not weather-sealed and do it with the lens mounted.

Occasionally, I clean the lens contacts both on the lens and camera side with alcohol using a Q-tip and it has only improved things!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your answer, I was afraid that vapor from the alcohol get into my camera and damage its sensitive parts, but since you've used it for lens contacts on the camera, I shouldn't have any problem either. \$\endgroup\$
    – Omne
    Oct 12, 2012 at 21:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, since alcohol evaporates easier than water, it might be an advantage. \$\endgroup\$
    – Roflo
    Oct 12, 2012 at 23:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Unless you are pouring the whole bottle on to the camera I don't think it is really a big issue using isopropyl alcohol. I use a qtip/cotton bud, dip it a little into the bottle and swab the lens. Let it dry of a little and then use your favorite lens cleaning cloth to wipe it dry. If cleaning the whole body you could use a cotton ball to wipe the camera body. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 6, 2012 at 9:15

I suspect Isopropyl alcohol is ok to clean your camera with, I have used Zeiss lens cleaner on mine several times. But note that there are additives in some formulations (especially medical) that can leave a film, which is not the best for lenses, ok for camera body, but should be absolutely avoided for the sensor. Isopropyl doesn't evap fast enough for a sensor and can cause streaking, etc.

Leave your lens on and 'vapors' won't get to the sensor in any significant amount I would imagine. I recommend the higher end lens cleaner solution that is also approved for sensors, like Eclipse. Eclipse is 100% highly refined methanol.


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