This presentation documents the optimal technique to use when cleaning MT connectors and ARINC 801 connectors used on many fiber optic networks. It also shows they numerous types of contamination found on these connectors and explains the sources of those contaminates.
This powerpoint explains the effects of static charges (triboelectric charges) on end-faces that lock particulate on to end-faces. This can degrade fiber optic network performance.
Better cleaning is the answer for modern fiber optic networks. The author suggests defining the “best cleaning practice” to “future-proof” each installation so the connectors are perfectly clean first time, every time. Better cleaning saves time and money.
In just 50 years, the capacity of fiber optic networks has increased astronomically. The “theoretical” has become “practical” with astonishing regularity. With all the advances there remains one weak link: contamination on surfaces at the time of test and transmission. In the “good old days” of megabits-per-second a contaminated end-face was not as much a concern. Today, insertion loss and reflectance impact speed and capacity as we jump from megabits-per-second to terabits and beyond. Here’s the absolute truth: modern, faster networks are more vulnerable to contamination than older, slower systems. This is compounded by a lack of awareness that connector surfaces are not merely ‘flatland” two-dimensional objects but use all three dimensions, and contamination is found on any of those surfaces.
The Benefits of Better Cleaning
Better cleaning is the answer but the cleaning product selection often is often wrongly based on convenience or cost. A better decision is to find the “best practice” that will “future-proof” each installation so precision cleaning happens the first time, all the time. Cleaning should be simple, consistent and remove the widest range of contamination. In many instances, existing products must be upgraded to “get it clean the first time” quality and procedures.
Better cleaning saves money. While training in California not too many years ago, I observed hundreds of “defective” patch cords discarded into a 55-gallon disposal drum. I asked permission to take some back to my lab. With proper cleaning only one assembly failed to meet specs. Imagine all the profits lost over
Let’s take a look at the best way to clean. This paper does not endorse any specific products but rather offer insights on “best practice, do-it-right-the-first-time” processes.
Cleaning Standards & Processes
The base-line standard for cleaning a fiber optic connection is IEC 61300-3-35. Typically, an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Standard is developed over five years and results in a standard that is in place for about ten years. In rapidly evolving industries such as fiber optics these standards become “minimums” and not the “best practices” to future proof your network.
The fiber optics industry is split into two worlds, each using the same technology but in very different environments. One world is the Production Line and the other is Outside Plant. A production line is a tightly-controlled environment. As such, IEC 61300-3-35 is an appropriate standard. Outside plant is impossible to characterize: the work environment varies widely. Existing standards don’t “transfer” well from Production Line to Outside Plant.
When cleaning fiber optic connections, there are three factors:
- What is the connector? You will need different tools for a 2.5 mm jumper, an MT-type port or an expanded beam system.
- What is the contamination? Contamination varies widely from a dusty lot to a flooded zone and all points in between.
- What tools and processes can be deployed to insure the connector is ready for high-capacity service? Train to “worst case” as this leads to “best practice”.
From a series of recent surveys, I calculate that less than 60% of all fiber connections are inspected. If the technician cannot see the surface it’s impossible to know if the surface actually is clean. To “future-proof” your network every cleaning must be followed by inspection. “Know what you are cleaning and know if the surface is clean.” This is an absolute requirement.
What to Look For
Figure 1: The concentric yellow rings represent a horizontal end-face as defined in all current standards. Existing standards term areas inside the box as Zones 1, 2 and 3. The outer-most yellow ring inside the back box is the limit of most video inspection scopes and is approximately 250-300µ from the “core.”
What about the rest of the connection? The blue arrows ‘outside the box’ represent the physical area of the end-face not seen. I classify this area Zone 4. Here is an image of the end face and alignment sleeve: the black spot is contamination.
There also is a Zone 5. Zones 1 through 4 are two-dimensional “flatland” surfaces. Zone 5 is the vertical ferrule and areas not seen by inspection.
Contamination can hide anywhere and, if it migrates, it can contribute to signal loss. A proper connector cleaning process should consider all aspects of the connector, including the vertical ferrule, the alignment sleeve and other “inter-surfaces.”
There are myriad types of contamination. Some are dry, others are fluids and some may be “combinations” or unidentifiable. Existing standards speak primarily of “dust” but there are hand oils and any number of other residues. Fluidic contamination flows and dry debris tends to stay in place. Depending on the type, all three contamination types may, or may not, be easy to remove.
On a side-note, self-cleaning connectors would seem to be a good idea. These and other concepts likely will evolve. Be aware and be prepared: “future proof” means to “anticipate and change.” It’s worth re-thinking existing standards as “minimum requirements” that may not reflect a rapidly evolving technology as fiber optics.
Future-Proof Your Network
Some people are reluctant to improve their procedures. A few years ago, I lead a discussion among 75 technicians sharing ideas on “the best way to clean.” One fellow challenged me, claiming “Ed, I can clean it on my shirt.” I accepted his challenge and put his end-face on the scope — sure enough, it was not clean. From the back of the room, “You did it wrong. You gotta use under the collar of your shirt!”
There is reality and there is mythology! Some existing practices are passed on because training is often a ‘one time’ event. This was fine for hitting a nail with a hammer…until the nail gun was invented! Be aware of deficiencies and be prepared to change from ineffective cleaning techniques to successful ones.
There actually are three fiber optic cleaning techniques:
1. The first technique is cleaning without inspection. I call this “blind cleaning.” If you cannot inspect every end-face, then a high-quality process using advanced cleaning products must be selected to have a chance to get “best practice” results. Using quality cleaning products becomes a “safety net” when you can’t inspect.
2. Existing standards call out a cleaning process with begins with a “dry technique.” This may be satisfactory if the contamination is fluidic (as absorbing a spill) and inspection is used. It can be inadequate for removing dry particulate as “dry cleaning” may create a static field that can attract additional debris. Inspection is
critical: each time the connection is opened.
3. If “dry cleaning” does not work, then standards suggest the “wet-dry” technique. Be aware, too much cleaner can “flood” the 3D nature of all connections. Be sure to use a cleaning fluid designed for fiber cleaning such as Sticklers™ cleaners and a few other vendor products. This is true precision cleaning.
Cleaning Tools to Avoid
There are several cleaning products you must avoid: (a) cellulose (wood pulp paper) wipes; (b) ordinary isopropyl alcohol; it simply is not an effective cleaner and (c) inexpensive, refillable “pump containers” or “squeeze bottles” because these bring outside moisture into the container and reduce the cleaning effectiveness of the fluid.
The best cleaning process for all connectors:
- Always use a pure, fiber optic-grade cleaning fluid. Less fluid is better; about 0.1 ml is sufficient. That’s about a spot about 3/4 inch (1.5 cm) in diameter.
- Use fiber optic applications-specific-grade wipes, cleaning sticks (swabs). Accept training from the manufacturer.
- Always dampen the stick/swab or wipe. Push to clean tools also may benefit by dampening if you have the time. This is may also be accomplished with a lightly moistened push-to-clean tool. Using a fluid to clean dissipates a static field that could accumulate on the end-face and not attract additional contamination.
Things Not to Do
- Do not use a “figure-8” movement that can retrace debris over the cleaning path.
- Do not push too hard because that can grind debris into the end-face.
- Never re-use cleaning wipes or swabs.
- Never clean by pressing the end face onto an inflexible surface or by wrapping a wipe over a dirty finger.
- Don’t expect aerosol dusters to clean: high-velocity versions will “dry”… but not “clean”.
Tools to Use
The savvy engineer will request “Product Spec Sheets” that explain a products’ features and benefits in detail before you commit to purchasing
them. Examples include:
- Cleaning Sticks (swab tools): Some swabs, such as the Sticklers™ CleanStixx™, will clean the Zone 5 alignment sleeve. Ask the manufacturer for their “storm damage” procedure. This is likely different from the “precision cleaning” performed “day-to-day.”
- Push-to-Clean Tools: These can be very convenient and very effective. These tools are often the only economically-viable option for cleaning large numbers of ports, such as in a data center install. However, it is easy to contaminate the cleaning ribbon when inserting the tool into the port. Look for tools that have a long “throw” that pulls enough tape or ribbon over the end-face that first has not been contaminated by a soiled alignment sleeve.
Some “threads” do not clean as much of the surface as “ribbons.” These are effective, application-specific tools. Use them properly.
- Wipes: The most efficient wipes are hydroentangled polyester-cellulose blends. If you use “microfiber” make sure it’s cleanroom-grade and not clothing-grade! Lastly, 100% polyester is not absorbent and can induce static field contamination.
- Fiber Optic Cleaning Fluids: These must be effective over a wide range of contaminants, safe for the worker and environment, and cost-efficient.
Nonflammable liquids are easier to transport. Nonrefillable packaging is cleaner and does not cross-contaminate. IPA (even 99% alcohol) is noted as
an inappropriate cleaner by most existing standards. Better technologies are available such as nonflammable, fast-drying precision cleaning
fluids. These have excellent cleaning, handling and storage characteristics. Some forms of “precision hydrocarbons” are effective choices but they all will be flammable.
I would suggest a “1st Time Cleaning Standard” should be the goal of all network designers and installers. Other suggestions to “future-proof” your network:
Fiber cleaning is not a “product choice” — it is an application-specific “process choice” based on “worst case” contamination that leads to “best practice.”
- “Best Practice” would be for network designers to include an “applications specific” cleaning procedure with each design. Reach out to manufacturers for support.
- Cleaning standards for production lines do not transfer easily to field operations.
- Video inspection is essential for every connector, every time.
- Eliminating improper cleaning processes is the key to minimizing network failures.
- Training is crucial. Eliminate the myths-of-cleaning by retraining now.
- Future-proof your network with a cleaning procedure based on the concept that the “worst case” leads to “best practice.”
When clean fiber optic termini are undisturbed the optical path is preserved for years. However, during installation, maintenance, reconfiguration and equipment upgrades, those pristine connector end-faces risk exposure to the environment. The fiber optic termini may become contaminated. It’s estimated that connection points are the source of about 70% of the optical network failures. And 70% of those failures are a result of simple contamination of the end-face. The author explores better ways to clean and inspect fiber optic termini, saving time and money in the process.
Fiber Optic is Growing
Over the past decades, the use of fiber optics throughout industry and our daily lives has seen a remarkable increase. High power laser energy routinely travels through fiber for precision cutting, marking and etching of surfaces in conditions and places previously not possible. High definition TV, internet gaming,
medical data imaging, financial services, cloud computing, smartphones, general commerce and social networking all have dramatically increased the
demand for bandwidth. All the elements of optical networking are experiencing increased demand for bandwidth and the utility it provides. Be it long haul, back haul, FTTX, WAN or LAN. But, while the technology and reliability of optical components has improved over the past decades, there still remains predictable system vulnerability at the points of interconnect.
An interconnect is the point of mating two fiber optic connectors, or the mating of a fiber optic connector with an optical device. It’s estimated that connection points are the source of about 70% of the optical network failures. And more than 70% of those failures are a result of connector end-face contamination. This is because the interconnect is the only point in the network where the core of the glass fiber carrying the optical signal comes in contact with contamination from the external environment.
Keep Connectors Clean
When in service, connectors mate and make physical contact at their end-face within an alignment sleeve. They hold in place with springs contained within the connectors. This ensures continued physical contact and preservation of the optical path. However, during installation, maintenance, rerouting, and equipment upgrades, disconnected connector end-faces face exposure to the environment. It’s at this time the end-face risks contamination. Either by accidental human contact, by contact with an unclean connector such as a test jumper, or by coming in contact with airborne contaminants.
Maintenance of the connector end-face is imperative for the fiber optic network to work correctly. It is an exacting job. The termini that create a connection must meet at an exact place. And the microscopic glass cores need to be perfectly aligned in order to have signal transmitted through the interconnect. In addition, the termini end-faces must be perfectly cleaned of all contaminants to ensure minimal signal loss. Thus, one of the most basic and important procedures for the maintenance of fiber optic networks is to clean the fiber optic termini.
Importance of Cleaning
Any contamination on the termini end-face can cause failure of an optical device or the network as a whole. Even microscopic particles on the end-faces can cause a variety of problems for optical connections. One of the biggest challenges of contamination is that it cannot be seen with the naked eye. One must use a specialized 200x or 400x inspection scope to determine the cleanliness of the end-face. It is critical to closely inspect the connector to confirm the particles and residue are completely eliminated. Thereby ensuring the interconnects perform to their full potential.
A dirty fiber optic end-face significantly degrades signal transmission and can even block the optical signal all together. Even if a stray particle is only on the ferrule edge of the end-face, it causes an air gap or misalignment in the termini between the glass cores. This can result in back reflections, instability in the network, signal attenuation or even a system shutdown. Another potential issue is a scratched surface as a result of dust particles trapped between two termini end-faces. What’s more, some fiber optic instruments such as those using high power Class IV lasers, generate a significant amount of heat, which, when in contact with contaminants can spark a surprisingly violent reaction or fire.
One of the biggest challenges in cleaning fiber optic termini is establishing a process that works consistently. Improvising a cleaning process will almost certainly lead to failure, as outlined above. The best advice is to inspect, clean, and inspect again. Repeat this process until you are absolutely sure both ends of the interconnect are completely clear of all contaminants. Spending time to clean it right the first time will save you time and money in the end.
Materials used to clean the end-faces must be perfectly-clean, otherwise you can easily make the end-face worse by adding contamination. It may be intuitive to wipe the end-face on your coveralls or a spare cloth. But under a fiber optic inspection scope, those items carry a surprising variety of contaminants that will soil the connector. Even briefly touching the termini with your finger will cause it to be significantly dirtied with skin oil. To clean properly and avoid
further contamination, make sure to always use a cleaning product that has been specifically engineered for cleaning fiber optics. It’s also a good practice to always wash your hands prior to using fiber optic cleaning materials. This avoids the transfer of skin oil onto otherwise pristine cleaning products.
There are two basic methods properly clean fiber optic termini. A high purity wipe for male connectors, and a specialty swab for female connectors. It’s important to note that while wipes work on almost all configurations of male connector termini, swabs are sized specifically for the type of connector being cleaned. Beware, a swab sized to clean an SC connector will not fit in a LC connector alignment sleeve. To achieve your goal of a perfectly clean termini end-face, swabs and wipes should always be used with a high purity fluid.
Three types of Contamination
In very general terms, contamination found on termini end-faces falls into three basic categories: particulates, oils and salts. Each requires specialized methods for proper removal. Particulates are solids, usually held on the end-face by electrostatic attraction. Even experienced technicians are surprised to learn that static attraction, increased by the mechanical action of a cleaning product, creates a triboelectric charge on the non-conductive termini end-face.
That triboelectric charge will actually attract dust particles like a magnet.
The best way to clean particulates is by dissipating the static charge that both attracts and holds them in place. Use a specialty cleaning fluid that actively dissipates static charges. A well-engineered cleaning fluid selectively dissolves oils found on the fiber end-face without damaging materials used to make the connector, its housing, or surrounding components. Salts, on the other hand, are not necessarily fully removed by cleaning fluids alone. While cleaning fluids may quickly dissolve oils and rinse away particulate, they frequently dry and leave a white residue that is very difficult to remove. The absorbency and mechanical action of a wipe or swab improves with the addition of a cleaning fluid. It helps to fully eliminate oils, particulates and salts that otherwise stay on the termini end-face.
Buyer beware, some cleaning products on the market leave the end-face dirtier than when you started. To avoid this situation, look for products that combine wipes and fluids engineered to work together to rid the termini end-face of particulates, oils and salts.
Avoid using aqueous (water based) cleaners or isopropyl alcohol (IPA), as both present significant limitations. Aqueous products dry slowly and, when used improperly, leave moisture on the end-face. In cold ambient temperatures, the moisture may actually freeze on the end-face or in the alignment sleeve. In extreme cases such as with high power lasers, if the moisture is not completely removed before the connectors mate in the sleeve, the laser-energized fiber instantly transforms the remaining liquid into vapor. This causes a small explosion through sudden expansion of the vapors.
IPA is typically comes in low purity grades and packaging simply not suitable for cleaning fiber. As a result IPA frequently leaves a hazy film behind when it dries. As with water-based cleaners, in extreme situations IPA may cause sudden vapor expansion problems or possibly ignite if left on a highly energized fiber end-face. Look for a fast drying, high-purity fluid formulated, packaged and labeled specifically for cleaning fiber optics.
Beware of Presaturated Wipes
High-purity cleaning fluids should always be used with both wipe and swab applications. But, beware of pre-saturated cleaning materials. Pre-saturated wipes and swabs often contain microscopic oily residues extracted from the plastic packaging. This then transfers to the end-face during the cleaning process. Instead, carefully apply a small amount of high purity cleaning fluid on a corner of a dry wipe or the tip of the swab. Then clean the fiber optic termini. A well-engineered cleaning fluid dissolves oils found on the end-face. It also helps eliminate the electrostatic charge generated as the applicator pulls out of its packaging or draws across the fiber end-face when cleaning.
Remember, microscopic amounts of contamination causes big problems on a termini end-face. Use care to not touch the area of the wipe or swab you will be using to clean with your finger or your clothing. Should you touch the area of the wipe or the tip of the swab with your finger or drop it on the ground, discard the wipe or swab and start over. Avoid reusing cleaning swabs and wipes because they transfer contamination onto the next connector. Once the cleaning process is complete, discard the wipe or swab. Then inspect the end-face to ensure they are contaminant-free.
Bottom Line: Performance Critical Cleaning
Our reliance on fiber optics continues to grow. It is imperative to clean interconnect end-faces perfectly the first time around with the right products, the right way. Fiber optic service professionals can’t afford to leave behind end-face contamination which results in poor network performance and costly callbacks. Use the correct cleaning products and closely inspect the end-face to avoid these costly mistakes. Investing the time, energy and money into
the cleaning process at the beginning ends up saving you in the end.
Improperly cleaned fiber end faces have operational and financial implications, but can be avoided.
Every cable assembly manufacturer strives to produce pristine ferrule end faces with zero defects. In the real world, this lofty goal is impossible to achieve. Even the best cable assembly manufacturers have an occasional scratch or pit on the ferrule end face. The purpose of this article is to review the current operational and financial implications of improper cleaning of end faces, and to suggest improved techniques that will reduce operating costs and improve network reliability.
The Industry Standard
As a matter of background, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) published the fiber end face specification 61300-3-35. This standard was developed to guide the fiber-optic industry in determining what kind of defects could be on the ferrule end face with no negative performance impact.
Digital ferrule scopes are commonly used in production and by field installers to inspect ferrule surface quality and comply with this specification. Most digital scopes employ automated, software-driven algorithms to accurately compute the size, area, and location of end face defects. This is an important advancement for the industry; every installer should have this type of gear available to them in the field.
The reason for this concern is that the location of defects relative to the center of the fiber core—the contact zone—is the critical measurement. A 1-pm or 2-pm length can be the difference between having an end face that meets or fails the 61300-3-35 specifications. Even the most experienced operator cannot visually determine if a scratch is 5 pm or 6 pm in length. The use of a digital ferrule scope with automated analysis software set to the IEC 61300-3-35 standard eliminates human error in determining if a defect will negatively impact network performance.
Field installers have limited options for addressing permanent defects like pits and scratches on the ferrule end face. The vast majority of cable assembly manufacturers perform 100-percent optical testing, so it would be a rare occurrence to get a fiber cable assembly shipped from the factory out of spec.
The more common end face defect that field installers encounter is generally termed “debris.” Debris is dust, lint, plastic or ceramic particulate, fingerprint oils or a host of other contamination. The industry’s best practice is to remove all debris from both connector end faces using optical-grade cleaning materials before mating the connectors.
Inspect, Clean, Inspect
It is vitally important to inspect each end face after cleaning and before mating to ensure the debris is removed. At a minimum, failure to remove the debris will cause cross-contamination of the two ferrule end faces, disrupting the optical signal path. Particulate debris in the contact zone frequently causes scratches and pits on both connector end faces. This is the reason Section 5.3 of IEC 61300-3-35 advises installers to inspect the connector end face, clean the end face if necessary to remove contamination, and re-inspect the ferrule. The total inspection process, using a digital ferrule scope, takes less than five seconds for an accurate analysis. Importantly, most modern digital scopes also capture an image of the ferrule end face. This helps to document the condition of the end face and ensures the performance of the network.
Static Charge Problems
Dry particulate has a very sly manner of moving onto fiber end faces and causing network problems. The symptoms of the problem are perplexing. For example, an operator cleans and inspects an end face, and sees a pristine result. Then, the operator returns at a later date and finds troublesome dust particles on the end face. How can this happen?
The problem is the process, not the particulate. Dry-wiping cleaning is a common process used by well-intentioned installers. However, anytime two different materials rub together there is a transfer of surface electrons that creates a static charge. The technical term for this event is “triboelectric charging.” The contact friction from the wiping process creates a static charge on surfaces of both the connector and the wipe itself.
Dielectric materials like ceramic ferrules and composite MT ferrules are insulators, not conductors, and they will store the static charge. The voltage remains trapped indefinitely until a conductive path is created. Any debris residing inside the connector housing quickly becomes attracted to the ferrule end face and tightly bonds to that surface by what is known as electrostatic attraction (ESA).
Sources of Static
Static, as all forms of electricity, follows the path of lowest resistance. Static charge on an end face builds up to the highest levels to the apex of the end face. A common cause of static charge is using a dry wipe or swab to clean connectors in low-humidity environments. This causes particles attracted to the static to migrate toward the contact region of the ferule, where it causes the most problems. Common sources of static charge caused by contact friction in optical networks include the following.
- Dry-wipe cleaning
- Insertion of inspection scopes and test gear into adapters
- Connector mating
- Equipment cooling fans and fans in the HVAC system
Solving the Static Problem
Static charges on the end face attracts and holds particulate debris for days and even months. The debris remains bonded to the end face until the static charge finds a conductive path for it to dissipate. The introduction of a cleaning fluid creates that conductive path, making it easy to physically wipe the debris away. The most effective cleaning process to solve this problem is using an optical grade cleaning fluid. The liquid temporarily creates the conductive medium for the static to dissipate.
Cleaning at What Cost?
Cost implications of not cleaning contaminated end faces such as those described above can be very costly. Dirty connectors will slow data speeds and, in the worst case, bring a fiber network down. What will this cost?
The average cost of network downtime is approximately $8,000 per minute. Industries suffering the highest downtime cost included hospitality, public sector, transportation, and media organizations. Installation companies are investing large amounts of capital in the latest network testing gear and personnel training to meet project requirements and customer expectations. But for the networks to operate at their designed reliability, companies must use the proper cleaning tools.
Here’s another way to look at it: Labor costs account for 60 to 80 percent of fiber deployment expenses. The cost to roll a truck and crew back to a worksite to repair a network failure is typically around $250 to $500 per incident. Unfortunately, after spending huge sums on test equipment and training, many companies suddenly become overly frugal and choose the cheapest options instead of the most effective options when selecting the connector cleaning consumables to be used on the work site.
Invest in a Quality Cleaning Fluid
Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and paper-based tissues are the lowest-cost options and most common cleaning consumables. Both are poor choices.
As a cleaning fluid, IPA has a major deficiency. It is hygroscopic. Meaning it attracts water molecules from the air even at low relative humidity. IPA packaged in containers that are not hermetically sealed can easily become contaminated by atmospheric moisture as well as the dust particles that float in the air. Dust particles floating in the air bond with water molecules and then absorbed into the IPA. After two or three days, the 99-percent IPA that was poured into the container is diluted with floater particles.
Alcohol is also highly flammable and has a high vapor pressure that makes it dangerous to use in areas where there are flames or sparks. Most alcohol-based cleaning solvents also are regulated hazardous materials and cannot easily be shipped by air.
Replacing IPA with a precision cleaning fluid engineered for optical device cleaning is a better option for cleaning fibers and connector end faces. Unlike IPA, high-quality fiber-optic cleaning fluids clean better, dry quickly, and do not leave a residue on the end face. To further minimize the risk of contamination, use a cleaning fluids packaged in a hermetically sealed, nonrefillable container. Cleaning fluids and packaging developed and tested specifically for cleaning fiber optics produce the best results.
Replace the Paper Wipes
Paper-based tissue wipes are cheap, but cause more problems than they solve. They have a low shearing strength, causing the fibers to separate easily as the operator wipes the ferrule end face. This deposits debris on the end face.
Some installers use pre-saturated alcohol wipes to clean fiber end faces and fibers for splicing. Pre-saturated wipes frequently become cross-contaminated. Plus, the cleaning fluid causes the packaging to break down over time. Temperature cycling accelerates degradation of the packaging material, which begins to leech into the cleaning fluid and contaminate the wipe.
Make sure to only use optical-grade, lint-free wipes that have high absorbency and high shearing strength. Reusing wipes and cleaning sticks will eventually cause problems related to cross-contamination.
Avoid using aqueous (water-based) cleaners. Aqueous cleaners are weak cleaners, slow to dry, and can leave moisture and streaks on the end face. Aqueous-based solutions are also susceptible to freezing in cold climates.
Make Better Cleaning Choices
Famed basketball coach John Wooden used to ask his players at the University of California Los Angeles, “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when are you going to have time to do it right?” Therefore, my final recommendation to installers is this. Pick the right cleaning materials made for cleaning optical connectors, and do it right the first time. Failure to heed this advice will cost you long term in callbacks, network downtime, and frustrated customers.