Should I Use Presaturated Alcohol Wipes to Clean Fiber End-Faces?

Instead of using presaturated wipes in disposable packets — the kind they give you in restaurants — get a wipe engineered for cleaning fiber end-faces

Instead of using pre-saturated wipes in disposable packets — the kind they give you in restaurants — get a wipe engineered for cleaning fiber end-faces

In general, no. While pre-saturated wipes are very convenient, they usually do not deliver the perfect cleaning results that fiber optic end-faces require. The most popular pre-saturated wipes are similar to the wipes seafood restaurants offer after dinner, to clean patrons hands. These pre-saturated wipes often contain microscopic oily residues extracted from the plastic packaging, which will then transfer to the end-face during the cleaning process. The wipes usually are the cheapest possible paper, unsuited to fiber optic cleaning. Pre-saturated wipes also cannot use fast-drying solvent fluids because they would not have a sufficiently long shelf-life; the fast-drying solvents escape from the foil packages pretty quickly. (We know, because we’ve tried.)

If you really need a convenient, single-use wipe the very best option would be the CleanWipes™ Singles, which is a high-purity fabric in a hermetically-sealed package. Use it with the Sticklers™ cleaning fluid.

High-purity cleaning fluids should always be used with both wipe and swab applications. Instead, use a lint-free wipe or fiber optic swab with an engineered cleaning fluid. Carefully apply a small amount of high-purity cleaning fluid on a corner of a dry wipe or the tip of the swab and then clean the fiber optic termini. A well-engineered cleaning fluid will not only dissolve oils found on the end-face, but will help to eliminate the electrostatic charge that locks contamination on to end-faces.

In short, be wary when using pre-saturated cleaning materials unless they are specifically engineered for fiber applications.