Vaporizer on left, electric duster in upper right, microfiber cloths and antistatic brushes in front of duster.

Slide Scanning Prep

My first slide-scanning project was during the winter months. I had not considered the impact of static electricity on slide preparation. After a little Internet research, I better understand why those very small particles were clinging to slides with such stubbornness.

It involved some trial and error, but I have finally settled on a slide-scanning workflow that minimizes foreign particles on the slides. Although spots can be edited from an image after a scan, I believe the initial scan should be as error-free as possible.


Clockwise from top:  electric duster, anti-static brushes, microfiber cloths, and a vaporizer.

My workflow includes:

  • a vaporizer in the room where the slides are being prepared and scanned – it adds  moisture to the air and diminishes the static electricity
  • anti-static brushes – made from such interesting materials as wood, hog bristle, horse hair, or goat hair; I make sure to brush both sides of the slides; one of my brushes can be attached to the electric duster (see bullet below)
  • an electric duster – it provides high-powered air flow without any of the issues associated with compressed air
  • microfiber cloths – if you wear eyeglasses, you have plenty of these in your home; I periodically wash them in a laundry bag, on delicate

I plug the vaporizer in about an hour before I begin work, so that humidity will accumulate in the air. I begin by brushing both sides of each slide. Next I blow dust from both sides of each slide with the electric duster. I have found that I only use the microfiber cloth for extremely stubborn spots that appear after a scan preview.

It took me four carousels of slides to perfect this process, and it greatly diminishes the number of re-scans that I need to perform.


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