Rubbing alcohol for cleaning flash

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Taurahe, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. Taurahe

    Taurahe Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 24, 2015
    So, I let a friend borrow my nissin i40 for an event, and things went south and it ended up getting beer spilled it. Now the knobs are super sticky and almost impossible to turn. If I carefully use rubbing alcohol to clean unDer the knobs by dripping it under them, will it hurt anything after it evaporates?
  2. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    I wouldn't use alcohol like that if possible. There have been reports of the pigment of the white lettering smudging off in certain circumstances. It hasn't happened to me, not sure if it's temperature, skin oils, hand cream/sun screen or what.

    Alcohol also isn't that pure, it almost always has water in it, so getting in the internals isn't a good idea.

    Try dismantling the knobs and applying cleaner sparingly using a cotton bud to specific surfaces.
  3. Taurahe

    Taurahe Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 24, 2015
    I tried to pull the knobs off and could get them off. Not sure how they attach.
  4. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    You have 4 options really:
    1. Send it to some place to get it cleaned. They should warranty their work, so if something goes wrong with it after they touch it, they're on the hook (in theory).
    2. Attempt to disassemble the flash yourself and clean it. This way you wouldn't be putting rubbing alcohol in places it shouldn't go. It's already pretty much useless as is, so what's the worst that can happen? It should really only be some screws and plastic snap-fits. Disassemble, clean, put back together. The warranty is already voided since it has beer inside of it, so taking it apart yourself isn't going to do any more damage.
    3. Don't disassemble it, but just do what you mentioned in the OP. There's a great likelihood of this doing some other kind of damage to the flash, but it's already pretty much useless as is, so why not?
    4. Tell your friend how much you value your friendship, and that you'd like to give him the flash so that he can continue using it. In return, all you require is a brand new flash, purchased by him, that is free of contamination via sticky fluids.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Taurahe

    Taurahe Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 24, 2015
    It actually works fine I just can't turn the knobs. I only use it for on camera ttl, but not being able to adjust flash compensation is a pain. Other than that it works fine. I might try and take it apart tonight. I kind of look at it the same way. I won't make him replace it because it really wasn't his fault, but he offered to pay to have it cleaned if I can find somewhere that will do it.
  6. Stanga

    Stanga Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 16, 2016
    Use one of those wet wipes.
  7. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    I've cleaned dozens of film cameras and lenses, and a few flashes with rubbing alcohol (70%, but now I just got some 91% as less water is safer)...

    The only item I've lost lettering on is a Sigma 28-xx f/4... zoom from the 90's, it's coated in rubber which is deteriorating, and the alcohol and cotton balls removed all the focus distance indicators, but nothing else.
    BTW, I still haven't found a solution for the bad rubber, on this as well as camera bodies, Logitech mice, ...
  8. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    BTW, corroded battery terminals are easy to clean with white kitchen vinegar, but I strongly recommend keeping it and other fluids away from the electronics.
    I've rescued several old flashes with it recently.
  9. Christop82

    Christop82 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 10, 2016
    I wouldn't hesitate to use the alcohol. It can dissolve some inks, but it won't hurt the plastic or the internals. Make sure you remove the batteries and discharge it.
    For restoring rubber, I've had some success with armorall.
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  10. Bif

    Bif Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2012
    San Angelo TX
    Bruce Foreman
    Eclipse cleaning fluid (used for cleaning sensors and optics and available from amazon) is the purest alcohol I know of. I think your choices are:

    1) Try a very small bit of Eclipse, about a half a drop so it doesn't run where you don't want it.

    2) Send it to the Nissin authorized repair/warranty center for a quote.

    3) Write it off and get yourself a new one. Don't loan gear again, use the excuse insurance won't cover it out of your hands. I don't borrow or loan photo gear, vehicles, or firearms.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Waaay too complicated.

    Beer is water with stuff dissolved in it. When the water evaporates you are left with the stuff. If it happened on a kitchen counter top you would wipe the stuff off with a damp cloth. Prima facie we know that the stuff is soluble in water. We do not (or at least I do not) know if all of it is soluble in alcohol. So IMO water is the answer.

    I would suggest damp cloth, q-tips and the like. To slide under the knobs I would try a strip of damp cloth pulled back and forth like a saw. If that didn't work I'd try damp paper card stock. If that didn't work I'd try heavy cotton thread. Never enough water to drip or run.

    If you just have to use something besides water, I'd try window cleaner. It's basically water, blue dye, scent, and maybe a few helper chemicals. It will cost, feel, and smell like you are doing something better than using plain water but whether it will have any improved cleaning effect remains to be seen.

    Never soap, which might leave a residue.
  12. BosseBe

    BosseBe Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 7, 2015
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Don't take this too seriously, but 30 years ago we had great success with cleaning keyboards that had coffee or coca-cola spilled on them with trichloroethylene (C2HCl3), we had to stop using it because it was not good for the Ozone-layer, so we started using a product called Propaclone, it was environmentally friendly but toxic to humans. It still cleaned the keyboards of course, but...
    (The primary use of both stuffs was washing electronic boards after soldering.)
    Don't try this at home!
  13. Christop82

    Christop82 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 10, 2016
    trichloroethylene! I wouldn't suggest graffiti remover for sensitive electronics. Just my opinion.
  14. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Various chlorinated solvents were very widely used for cleaning, and specifically sold for cleaning electronics before their environmental impact was widely known. It was standard practice to wash boards with them after soldering to remove traces of the solder's flux.

    A damp cloth would be fine for exposed areas, and meth's would probably be best for the rest. The bulk of the sticky stuff left behind by beer is likely to be sugars, which are more soluble in methanol/ethanol (meth's) than propanol (rubbing alcohol). As long as the batteries have been removed first there is no need to worry about an water in either of these as sold or kept normally.
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