How to Clean & Lubricate a Movie Projector

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Clean and lubricate a movie projector every two months if you use it regularly.
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Before the age of PowerPoint and training webinars there were old-school training films shown on movie projectors. If you're lucky enough to be working with a movie projector that still has its original cleaning kit, you already have all the tools you need to clean and lubricate the machine. If not, head over to a photography shop or buy cleaning supplies online. Movie projectors should be cleaned and lubricated every few months.


Step 1

Turn off and unplug the projector.

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Step 2

Open the case to expose the inner workings. There's usually a side door that's held closed with a latch.

Step 3

Put 1 to 2 drops of projector oil into the oil well cup, if there is one. This is usually found in older metal projectors. Purchase oil specifically made for film projectors. A little goes a long way so don't use more than a drop or two.


Step 4

Put a small amount of lens cleaning fluid on a clean, lint-free cloth and wipe down the glide rollers and film guide roller shafts. Wipe any sprocket or surface the film touches. The lens cleaning fluid is mostly alcohol and will remove emulsion buildup.

Step 5

Use an aperture brush to clean off any heavy areas of emulsion buildup. The brush is also good for cleaning around the film guide roller shafts and the film shoes -- the holders that keep the film in place while the projector is running.



Step 6

Clean the bulb and lenses with lens cleaning solution and lens tissues. Use lens tissues, not a cloth. Even the softest cloth will leave microscopic scratches on the soft surface of a lens and those scratches will build up over time. Lens tissue is specifically made for lenses.

Step 7

Blow condensed air through any hard-to-reach areas to blow out dust and cobwebs. Stray dirt or grit can scratch and tear film as it travels through the projector, so make sure the entire unit is clean and dust-free.

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