Tag Archives: fiber optic connectors

An Overview of Fiber Optic Connector Cleaning

A fiber optic connector works to terminate the end of an optical fiber, as the name indicates, it is generally adopted to join optical fibers where a connect or disconnect capability is required. The connector mechanically couples and aligns the cores of fibers to enable light passing from one fiber to another. Fiber optic connector is widely employed to connect equipment and cables. Besides, it also captures an essential position when cross-connect cables are required. As an indispensable component in cable installation that can affect the performance and reliability of the whole system, the cleanliness of fiber optic connector cannot be ignored. This article aims to raise the awareness of connector cleaning and offer some constructive suggestions .

Why It Is Critical to Ensure Fiber Connector Cleaning

It is important to know the fact that every fiber optic connector should be inspected and cleaned before mating, because a clean fiber optic connector is a necessary requirement for quality connections between fiber optic equipment. And One of the most basic and important procedures for the maintenance of fiber optic systems is to clean the fiber optic equipment. However, any contamination in the fiber connection can cause failure of the component itself, or even worse, failure of the whole system.

In addition, even microscopic dust particles can cause various problems for optical connections. A particle that blocks the core, either partially or completely, could generate strong back reflections, which can cause instability in the laser system. Dust particles trapped between two fiber faces can scratch the glass surfaces. Even if a particle is only situated on the cladding or the edge of the endface, it can cause an air gap or misalignment between the fiber cores which significantly degrades the optical signal. Besides dust, there still exists other kinds of contamination such as oil, human touch, film residues, vapors in the air and so on, which are proved to be more difficult to remove than dust particles. If not removed properly, they may also result in great damage to equipment.

Contaminated fiber optic connectors can often lead to degraded performance and costly, but preventable failures. So, to ensure proper performance and reliability, care must be taken with the installation and maintenance of fiber connectors. Cabling industry best practices recommend that both field and pre-terminated connections should be inspected and cleaned prior to mating to other connectors or equipment.

Common Contamination Conditions of Fiber Connector

In this part, this article intends to show several common contamination conditions of fiber connector through the following picture:

Figure 1 shows a clean single mode ceramic endface.

connector cleaning

Figure 1

Figure 2 shows a connector with dust particles spread across the surface of the endface that needs cleaning.

Connector with dust particles

Figure 2

Figure 3 shows a connector with liquid contamination that needs cleaning.

Connector with liquid contamination

Figure 3

Figure 4 shows a connector with alcohol residue that needs cleaning.

Connector with alcohol residue

Figure 4

Figure 5 shows a connector with a dry residue that needs cleaning.

Connector with dry residue

Figure 5

Figure 6 shows a connector with an oil residue that needs cleaning.

Connector with oil residue

Figure 6

The Methods of Fiber Connector Cleaning

Based on the cleaning method, generally there are four types of fiber optic cleaning kit on the market nowadays:

Dry cleaning: Optic cleaning without the use of any solvent.

Wet cleaning: Optic cleaning with a solvent. Typically IPA (isopropyl alcohol).

Non-Abrasive cleaning: Cleaning without abrasive material touching the fiber optic connector end face. Examples are air dusters or pressured solvent jet used in automated in-situ connector cleaners.

Abrasive cleaning: The popular lint free wipes, reel based fiber connector cleaners and optic cleaning swabs such as the sticks are all abrasive cleaning types.

The Process of Fiber Connector Cleaning

In this part, let’s move to describe the connector cleaning process. For general fiber optic connector cleaning, it is necessary for you to complete the following steps:

  • Step 1: Clean the fiber optic connectors with a dry cleaning technique.
  • Step 2: Inspect the connector.
  • Step 3: If the connector is dirty, repeat the dry cleaning technique and inspect the connector again.
  • Step 4: Clean the connector with a wet cleaning technique if it’s still dirty.
  • Step 5: Inspect the connector again.
  • Step 6: Repeat these steps until the connector is clean.

If you are using resealable containers, you should store the end caps in separate containers and store all of the cleaning tools as well. The inside of the containers should be clean and the lid should be kept tight to avoid contamination. Do not allow the cleaning alcohol to evaporate slowly. This may leave a residue on the cladding or fiber core. It is often difficult to clean and can be more difficult to remove than the original contaminant.


As the demand for increased bandwidth, more data and better quality audio/video grows rapidly, the use of fiber optics around the globe has increased greatly. That need for more and better data means more fiber optic cable and more high density, reliable optical connectors. It is thus nature that cleaning consideration is the number one issue in fiber optic cable technology today, with the proper method and process implemented in connector cleaning, the fiber optic connector will perform flawlessly for years in your fiber cable infrastructure. FS.COM provides cost-efficient and high-quality fiber optic cleaners that ensure you high-performed fiber connector cleaning. Supported by large quantities of products in stock, you can enjoy really fast delivery in FS.COM. For more detailed information, please visit www.fs.com or contact sales@fs.com.

Introduction to Fiber Optic Inspection, Cleaning and Testing

As fiber optics are the mainstream of the modern data communication network, the inspection, cleaning and testing of fiber optics are becoming significant for the precision of signal transmission. This article will focus on the fiber optic inspection, cleaning and testing.

Fiber Optic Inspection

With the increasing higher data rates and decreasing small loss budgets, the fiber optic inspection and cleaning are becoming more and more important. Proper inspection and cleaning is the only way to decrease the overall light loss. Contamination and damage are the two types of problems that will cause loss when doing the fiber optic connection with the adapters.

Contamination comes in many forms which can be dust, oils or even the buffer gel. Oil comes from bodies when making a touching with the fiber’s end face. Dust and the small static-charged particles flying in the air can land on the fiber’s exposed termination. Buffer gel and pulling lube can easily find its way onto an end-face during the new installations. Scratching, chipping, pitting or cracking of the fiber optic cable will cause the end-face surface defects which as a result of poor termination or mated contamination.

Portable microscope is used to inspect the fiber optic end-face. Optical and video microscopes can be found in the market today. Optical microscopes incorporate and objective lens and an eyepiece lens which allow you to view the end face directly. Video microscopes, however, have both an optical probe and a display for viewing. The display screens will show the expanded images of the contaminants and damages.

Fiber Optic Cleaning

The most traditional and suboptimal way to clean the fiber optic end-face is blasting the fiber cables with canned air, or using IPA. Fiber optic specialist today have developed series special solvent and cleaning tools which can be found in the fiber optic leaning kits. The special fiber solvent are perfect for dissolving virtually any contaminant on the fiber end-face and have tailored evaporation rates that give them time to work yet disappear before mating. One-push cleaner is one of the most popular cleaning tool for fiber optic connector (see the picture below).

One-push cleaner

Fiber Optic Testing

After the inspection and cleaning of the fiber optics, the next step is to implement the fiber optic testing, which includes the certification and verification of the optical fibers. Fiber optic certification has experienced a development form Tier 1 to Tier 2, which are based on the certification of new cabling per IEEE, TIA, or ISO/IEC standards.

Tier 1 is the basic test regiment which is performed with a power meter and light source or optical loss test set to measure the absolute loss of the link and compare it to the limits of the standards. Tier 2 is the extended Tier 1 testing which bring the application of OTDR testing. By the use of OTDR, it will allow to trace each fiber link. OTDR trace will enable people to certify the quality of the fiber optic splicing, connection, and installation.


Fiber optic inspection, cleaning and testing are essential for accurate data transmission. Using the high-quality fiber testers and tools would be helpful to achieve the purpose. Fiberstore has various fiber optic testers and tools, including the one-push cleaner (pend cleaner), fiber optic microscope, and optical power meter, OTDR, etc. All of these items are of great quality and competitive price. If you are looking for fiber optic testers and tools, Fiberstore would be an excellent option.