Important New Information for 2020 and Beyond

Cleaning Methods

It is said there are three cleaning methods for fiber optic connections and components:

1. a "dry" method
2. a "wet-to-dry" method

Existing standards train to begin with a "dry process" and, if that does not provide a clean surface, use the "wet-to-dry" method. Over the last twenty years I have visited many craftspersons working in just about every facet of fiber optic transmission: 1.) back haul, long-haul, trans-oceanic, 2.) Central Offices, Head Ends and Data Centers, 3.) Fiber to the “X” in just about every configuration.

I am honored that some consider me to be a Subject Matter Expert, or "guru!" What I pass on is "science" …not always considered when the optic of “cleaning fiber” is discussed, trained, or, standardized.

If video inspection isn't available or practical, be wary of blind-cleaning. This is the least effective way to future-proof a fiber optic deployment of any kind!


3. The Solvent-Transfer Process©

The 3rd Procedure was standardized in 2011 with the issue of Telcordia GR-2923-Core. This procedure, called solvent-transfer©, uses a measured amount of fiber optic grade cleaner and a non-paper wiper to assure debris is emulsified and moved away from the initial point of contact. This process is also called ‘combination cleaning’ because it is field and laboratory-proven to remove the widest array of contamination. This 'worst case' method leads to best practice and is adaptable to just about all cleaning tools.(1,2,3) Some claim this is the "wet-to-dry method." Please visit my Youtube channel to better understand how The Solvent Transfer Process© is unique and adaptable to just about any cleaning tool. Solvent Transfer is vendor-neutral!

4. Blind Cleaning Method©

There is a 4th Procedure: it is "blind-cleaning" : the assumption that any process will clean any debris or contamination in a leap-of-faith without video inspection! I believe it's important to provide a cleaning procedure for "blind cleaners." A blind-cleaner may be a copper technician who is on a 'trouble call', a fiber optic technician whose video scope is not working, or a data center technician faced with a deadline and several-hundred connectors to clean by daylight!

The folks selling video inspection (and I am one of them!) want you to buy a video scope. That's a great idea… but using it every time on every connection is not always possible. The Solvent Transfer Process© is an excellent “Plan-B.”

We all agree 'inspection-is-essential.' The Solvent Transfer Process is not standardized by any formal group. However, it has formal PIDS, CIFA, SSI, and PAL codes …or did when I retired in 2014.

Existing standards are often obsoleted by the nature of our science of fiber optic transmission. That is why I encourage and train you to "self-standardize." Develop your own inspection and cleaning regime …it's called a work order and it’s adaptable to the "applications specific" nature of our deployments and skill level of our work force.

The Science of Solvent-Transfer

Use of a solvent to clean enhances many cleaning procedures. It’s common sense and science that began with the invention of soap 3,000 years ago!

Let’s consider 'the science of cleaning' and day-to-day cleaning events that are the basis for a better understanding of precision cleaning and precision inspection.

When 'we' dry clean anything: a.) the debris may move and not be removed, b.) “dry cleaning” can create a static field that attracts additional debris, c.) “dry cleaning” is a mopping action for fluidic© contamination. Dry debris in an alignment sleeve can transfer to the back plane; dry debris in an alignment port can cause ‘mis-alignment.’ All of these possibilities are mission critical concerns as speeds and capacities regularly go from 'theoretical to practical'.

When 'we' wet-to-dry clean, it is a common procedure is for debris that is 'dry.' When adapted to fiber optics, "wet-to-dry" cleaning also dissipates static field contamination. However, if "wet-to-dry cleaning" is not clearly defined, the connector surface can flood (outside the field of view). Fluidic© contamination can transfer and attract dry debris to become a 'combination contamination.' Take a look at my Youtube channel and see what I have learned.

Stop and Think

If "dry cleaning" works on 'fluidic contamination' and "wet-to-dry cleaning" works on 'dry debris', …are the instructions backwards? This may be especially true if you are a "blind cleaner." You may be "blind cleaning" if your inspection device only 'sees' and 'analyses' a small fraction of the 'horizontal end face.' Very few inspection devices can "see" the adapter surfaces or the alignment sleeves.

In these times of environmental consciousness, limited use of high performing, environmentally-responsible precision cleaners is the new-normal. Solvent-transfer is an established procedure, documented and proven for fiber optic precision cleaning. (1,2,3) Solvent-transfer is a 'future-proof' high-performance procedure for dry, fluidic©, and combinations of debris. The procedure also dissipates static field contamination.

The Solvent Transfer Process© is ‘best-practice’ for all connectors, alignment sleeves and intersurfaces©.

  • "Soil Removal from End Face Utilizing Cisco Series of Ten Diverse Soils": Pul Blair, Edward Forrest, And Susan Max ITW Chemtronics: 2006. Laboratory Test
  • "A Comparison Study of Precision Cleaning Methods for All Fiber Optic Connections." Edward J. Forrest, Jr. Textbook. 2015
  • PID-2005, SSI-2006, CIFA-2008, PAL-2010