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Spring Cleaning... Your Fibre!

Let's be honest. Most of the time, cleaning sucks! This week marks the start of Spring 2020, which means the annual "spring clean" is looming for the coming weekend. Raise your hand if you will be scrubbing your house from top to bottom, or even just running the vacuum round and calling it a job well done? I, for one, will be joining you. But no matter how much cleaning sucks, there is always a sense of satisfaction when it's done and the house looks at its best (before the muddy paws come bounding inside!).

The same can be said for your fibre cabling system. Fibre networks cannot perform at their best when a connector end-face is contaminated with dirt or dust, which causes loss and reflections.  For some perspective, a human hair is typically around 60 micrometers in diameter but it only takes a 9 micrometer speck of dust (not even visible to the human eye) to totally block a fibre core.

While there are copious tips on how to "spring clean" for this weekend (did you know you can simply put equal amounts of water and vinegar with a wedge of lemon in your microwave, set on high for 5-10 minutes, then just wipe away to leave it shining like new?!) there are also some top tips when it comes to cleaning your fibre end-faces before completing an installation.

Know what you're cleaning

Have you ever tried to clean your windows with the wrong cleaner, only to be left with more streaks and murkiness than before you started? Cleaning fibre is no different - there are multiple cleaning solutions available, each designed to tackle different types of contamination - check out our Infographic for more info.

Use the right technique

Would you ever try to clean your non-stick kitchen pans with a metal scourer? Probably (Hopefully!) not. All fibre connectors have different optimum cleaning techniques, including lint wet-wipes, cleaning pens or swabs. Take a look at our Fibre Cleaning Guide to see which cleaning products you need for the most effective cleaning method.

Avoid contamination

How often do you notice fingerprints on your phone screen? You wipe them off, and 5 seconds later the screen is covered again. When it comes to cleaning fibre, even the slightest touch of a clean finger can leave residue on an end-face. Dust in the air, dirty ports, grubby dust caps - contamination is everywhere, so make sure once you've cleaned and connected, you leave it be.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat!

Just like when you wash your hair, "wash, rinse, repeat" is the golden rule for sleek, shiny locks. With fibre cleaning, the same rule (almost) applies; it's always best to inspect, clean and inspect again - just to make sure the end face is truly clean. Take a look at our library of videos to see the difference between a clean and dirty end-face upon inspection.

You're still not convinced that cleaning your fibre system is super important?!

Maybe these facts will change your mind?

  • A survey of contractors found that contaminated end-faces were the cause of 85% of fiber link failures (Lang & Carter, 2016)
  • An electronics industry association, IPC, found that contamination is the most common cause of degradation in the performance of optical connectors (IPC-8497-1, 2005, p. 7)
  • A major telecom company found that 16 percent of connectors in their fiber-to-the-home network was sufficiently contaminated to cause performance problems (Sheedy, 2014

For more detail, check out this article from one of our partners.

Author Bio

Neil Staley

Product Marketing Executive


Neil Staley originally joined Mayflex in 1991 working in the sales team. Over the years he has worked in different sales roles both internally and externally and helped set up the highly successful Projects department.

Neil then ran the internal sales team for a number of years and since 2013 has worked within the Marketing department, focusing on product marketing activities across the three core divisions of the business.

Neil holds the CNIT qualification.

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