View Full Version : Bathing your filmholders?

14-Jan-2017, 18:40
This might seem to be a strange question, but is harmful to bathe your plastic Lisco/Regal film holders in warm soapy water??? Iíve never ever had to do this, but I recently acquired a few nice inexpensive 8x10 holders that have a certain bouquet that is just not airing out. They were probably cleaned with some perfumed household cleaner and the scent is rather strong. I just want to make sure that the dark slide locks donít rust, and it doesnít damage the light trap. Has anyone ever done this?

Alan Gales
14-Jan-2017, 18:49
I wouldn't submerge them in water. I'd be afraid the tape joints would come apart.

Have you tried leaving them outdoors for a few hours?

What I would do is wipe them down with a damp cloth and a little mild soap if I had to.

14-Jan-2017, 19:01
Thanks Alan. Yes they've been airing out for quite a while. Wiped them down multiple times, too. I did soak and wash the dark slides with some liquid dish soap and that took care of the problem. But I am afraid of doing it to the holder itself.

14-Jan-2017, 20:03
Don't get the felt in the light trap wet. Good way to really muck it up.

I had a student who did not quite listen well to his professor's instructions. She went into the dark, removed the darkslides and put the holder into the developer (instead of removing the film and putting them in SS holders). I tossed out the holder, saved the slides.

14-Jan-2017, 20:25
Soak in dilute vinegar and rinse well. If that does not rid the holders of stink, then throw them away if it upsets you. The film could care less.

14-Jan-2017, 20:39
Are these Toyo holders?

They have a reputation for a plasticy smell that lasts for a long time.
It eventually goes away.

I would never submerge or otherwise introduce any volume of liquid to a holder.
Use of a cleaner on a cloth is the most I would attempt.

- Leigh

John Kasaian
14-Jan-2017, 21:17
If the perfumed cleaner didn't get into the velvet light traps, you might get away with wiping the holders down with a damp cloth--just don't get those light traps wet!
You might try Fabreeze.
And smoke a Toscano cigar while you're at it.
159771 That should take the perfume out of the air.

14-Jan-2017, 21:42
Thank you everyone for the input.

These are not the Toyo holders but the Lisco brand and the scent is definitely from some sort of cleaner...kind of a flowery perfume but not in a good way! I guess I'll live with the scent for now, since it sounds like the light trap should not be submerged.

John - I like your idea. I think I still have a couple of Macanudos stashed away!

15-Jan-2017, 02:37
Don't wash!!!

I cleaned up about 30 old holders from a former aerospace photographer... I started by cleaning up some REALLY filthy Grafmatics, and started by taking apart one broken one as a test, and rinsing it out... The silk light traps started disintegrating before my eyes!!! Even after drying, they tended to shed lint, and the steel spring under the traps started rusting badly... My new no-no...

To get rid of the perfume smell, maybe try to spray some paper towel material or a rag with Lysol spray, put the holders in a plastic bag with the damp rag, and leave it someplace warm for a few days and see if it cuts the smell... (I use this to get rid of mold + mildew smell in different gear, and gets rid of the stuff pretty well...)

FWIW, I have many US plastic holders (of all ages) and none are outgassing, so it's something the holders have experienced in some environment... (Hopefully not from a bordello photographer's kit!!!)

Steve K

Doremus Scudder
15-Jan-2017, 04:46
A contrary opinion here:

I've rinsed down holders under running water often with no ill effects. I wouldn't soak them overnight, but a quick wash with soapy water and a rinse sometimes works wonders. I soak the holders for just a minute or so, scrubbing where needed, and then rinse under warm running water, making sure to run water through the light traps. In my experience, it helps rejuvenate old, gunky felt in the light traps. I've never had a trap disintegrate or had damaged felt. Do dry the holders promptly, blow some air through the light traps to remove excess water and let them air-dry for a 24 hours or so. I don't do this with too many holders, but it has made some really old, grungy holders usable again.

That said, I've only done this with more modern plastic holders like the Riteway and Lisco holders. I would likely not want to wash older wooden holders like this.



Drew Bedo
15-Jan-2017, 06:40
So the oder is not a musty-moldy-fungus smell?

Whenever evaluating used gear I always stick my head in the bag and take a cautious smell for mold.

If its a cleaning solution smell it may not be a problem.

19-Jan-2017, 14:51
I got a crown graphic that came from a smoker that you could smell from 10 feet away. I spayed the bellows with Fabreeze and let it sit outside about 5 times and that did the trick.

19-Jan-2017, 16:50
Do it the dry way - flour the film holder richly with baking soda, close it in a zip lock bag, leave it for a day, take it out, clean it and enjoy the new film holder.

19-Jan-2017, 17:24
Thanks for all of the feedback. Rather than bathing, I wiped them down with generous amounts of water and light vinegar solution - as suggested. Also did a quick rinse under warm water with the dark slide in. After a couple days of drying they are good as new. A little order still emanates from the light trap, but only if you hold them right up to your nose. Much better than before. Thanks again!