How to Properly and Thoroughly Clean Your Tripod

We talk about how to clean our cameras and lenses quite a bit, but for many of us, our tripods are just as essential a piece of equipment. Here's how to properly clean one to extend its life and ensure it functions fully.

I bought a nice (and expensive) carbon fiber travel tripod before a month-long trip to Europe in the summer of 2013, and after four years of use, it started to show signs of wear. In particular, bits of sand had gotten into the legs, and they were grinding in the screw threads, threatening to strip them and render the entire thing essentially useless. It also needed a good lubrication as it no longer operated smoothly. I had never really thought to clean and lube a tripod before, but I was kicking myself for not doing it once I saw this video. If you're a landscape photographer, or anyone whose tripod spends a lot of time in the sand or dirt, or yours just seems to be functioning less than perfectly, this quick walkthrough should get it back up and running in no time. Just be careful to keep the pieces organized well and put them back together exactly as you took them apart. 

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Peter Brody's picture

If anyone is really serious about this then I would recommend avoiding spray silicone. There are much better plastic/rubber/carbon fiber safe synthetic lubricants available that will last far longer than watery silicone spray, which loses its effectiveness fairly quickly. They are similar to the kind of lubricants used in plastic gears and related components in many electronics that have movements, such as cameras and lenses.

When disassembling carbon fiber tripods I would inspect them very carefully. No guarantees as carbon fiber damage can be easily hidden, but you may find damage that could put your cameras/lenses at risk. Carbon fiber is really strong stuff but not indestructible.

Kyle Medina's picture

Sea Salt did a number on mine.

Alex Cooke's picture

Oh yikes. That's not good!

Kyle Medina's picture

Sounds worse. Every lever, knob is sticky and not smooth anymore. So I need to do a deep cleaning. Rinsing with water help a little bit.

Jon Wolding's picture

I just use water on my CF legs and replace any nuts/bolts with stainless if/when they're showing corrosion.