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What is Fiber-Optic Cleaner?

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  • Written By: J. Airman
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Fiber-optic cleaner is a solvent spray designed to remove grime from fiber-optic cables and connectors. Cords that transmit information through bundles of narrow clear tubes are called fiber-optic or optical fiber cables. Cleaning kits for fiber-optic cables typically include a spray can of fiber-optic cleaner. Exposed sections of fiber-optic cables at connection points and network locations may require regular cleaning to avoid service outages. The cleaner is generally applied to a lint-free towel so the cable section can be wiped clean.

A variety of solvents and solvent combinations are used to make fiber-optic cleaner. The solvent component in the cleaner works to dissolve any dirt buildup on the surface of the cable so it can be easily wiped away. Isopropyl alcohol and acetone are among the most commonly used solvent ingredients in fiber-optic cleaning sprays. Fiber-optic cleaner may also contain a propellant or other chemical additives. Cleaned surfaces often dry quickly as the solvent cleaner evaporates at room temperature.

Many technicians use fiber-optic cleaner to prepare the cable ends for splicing. Splicing is a process of connecting two cut ends of fiber-optic cable to extend the range. The cleaned cord ends are placed into a fusion splicer and connected individually. Fusion splicers are machines that heat the ends of the fiber-optic cables until they melt together. Newly connected cables are typically covered in a new sleeve of plastic shrink wrap for protection.

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Connectors for fiber-optic cable require occasional cleaning and maintenance. The point where the cable connects to an electronic device must stay clean and dust-free for an uninterrupted connection. Fiber-optic cleaner is usually used to clean all the parts of the connector as well as the machine inlet. Clean cable and connector components can be reassembled once all the solvent has evaporated.

Flammable solvent sprays like fiber-optic cleaner can ignite if they are used near an open flame or spark. Most fiber-optic cleaning kits advise the user to turn off the electronic devices before spraying the cleaning solvent. Applying the cleaner to a lint-free cloth instead of directly to the cable can also help avoid spray damage to electronics. Well-ventilated areas allow the spray cleaner to dissipate rapidly to reduce chances of ignition and inhalation. Unused fiber-optic cleaner can evaporate from the spray bottle if it is not properly sealed prior to storage.

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