If you're wondering how to clean a tripod, then you're at the right place!
A tripod is one of the most vital accessories for photography. Most photography enthusiasts carry around their camera and tripod at all times. However, tripods are often overlooked in terms of cleaning and maintenance.
Unless you want to buy a new tripod every few years, you have to pay attention to its maintenance. With proper care, you can ensure that it lasts for at least a decade. Also, it gives you a feeling that you've got an almost new product.
The best part is that it only takes an hour to clean it properly.
In this article, you can learn how to disassemble, clean, and reassemble your tripod. Let’s take a look below to find out what items you will need and how to clean a tripod.
What You Will Need to Clean a Tripod
- Small brush
- Cloth (cotton fabric)
- Soapy water
- Camera (for beginners to record disassembling to know how to assemble it again)
- A bowl
- Socket wrench and screwdriver
- Waterproof lubricant
How to Disassemble a Tripod
Once you have collected all the essential supplies, it is time to take apart your tripod. Most tripods come with a set of tools to assemble or disassemble it. Also, should you need help, you can always read the user manual.
It is very important to record a video or take pictures while you are taking apart your tripod. This will help you during the reassembly process. It is better to perform this activity on a clean surface so you don’t lose anything.
Twist locks are easy to remove. Rotate them like you do when you have to extend the leg. Keep rotating until it is free and remove the lowest section.
If your tripod has flip locks, you need a screwdriver to loosen the bolts. Put aside the screw and nut. Repeat the process until you have removed all the screws.
How to Clean the Head
Since you can’t disassemble the head of a tripod, cleaning it can be a little tricky. It is hard to reach some of the areas, and you may need to use a blower to reach everything. Try using an old toothbrush to reach the difficult areas.
With some very advanced tripods, you can actually remove the head. If that is the case, you can clean it more effectively. Check the user manual to find out whether you can take it apart or not.
Dip the brush in soapy water and gently scrub the plates. Make sure you loosen the locks to relax the swivel head or the ball. Once you are done, use the blower to clean the remaining areas.
How to Clean the Legs
The feet are the most abused area of the tripod, and you need to clean them regardless of whether they will get dirty again tomorrow or not. Usually, they are covered with rubber coating. Use a blower and brush to remove the dirt. In some cases, the feet are removable. If that’s the case, dip them in soapy water and then use a blower.
Use a blower on the legs to get rid of dirt. Dip the brush in soapy water and clean the leg parts. Remove all the remaining dirt and stains, and use a cotton cloth to dry them.
The tops of the legs are usually fixed in position, and you can’t remove them. In that case, you need to use a brush and scrub them gently. Once they are clean, you can use the blower to dry them. Then, use a cloth to wipe it one last time.
Most tripods have a removable hook to attach a weight. It helps in keeping the tripod stable in strong winds. Remove the hook and clean it thoroughly with the brush.
Furthermore, you need to clean the screws and nuts to avoid corrosion. Place them in soapy water which will make it easier to clean them. Use waterproof lubricant on them to create a protective layer.
Once everything is dry, you need to start the reassembly process. Before you put the tripod back together, use a waterproof lubricant over the threads. This increases the life of threads while allowing you to loosen or tighten them easily.
While assembling, you need to align the notches properly and don’t forget to place the plastic caps on where necessary. If you face any issues, you can look at images or videos you prepared while taking it apart. All the locks should be aligned in a similar direction.
Once the tripod is assembled, check the locks and make sure everything is in the right position.
When to Clean a Tripod
The answer to this question depends on its usage. If you regularly use a tripod for outdoor shootings, you need to give it a quick cleaning after every shoot. Rinse it with a cloth to avoid sticky stains. After three months, you should clean it thoroughly as described above.
Should the tripod become exposed to saltwater, you need to clean it immediately. If you are shooting at a beach, you should give it a quick clean before leaving the site. Once you are done and away from the beach, you need to remove the legs and clean it properly. You will probably find a lot of sand stuck in your tripod.
Apart from this, you need to look for signs that indicate it requires detailing. These signs include grinding or grating sounds coming from the locks. Whenever you notice any sound while expanding or collapsing, it is time to clean it. If you do not clean it regularly, you may end up causing damage to the protective coat and invite corrosion.
A well-maintained tripod can live up to 10 years without any signs of aging. When you are cleaning it for the first time, it may take a couple of hours. Once you get used to cleaning your tripod, it will hardly take 30 minutes to finish the process.
During the cleaning process, make sure to use a soft brush and don’t rub it too hard. You have to make sure that you are not damaging the protective coat.
Even if you are planning to upgrade your tripod, the one you are currently using can still serve you in the future. Thus, it is always a good idea to keep it clean and maintained properly.