No matter your holder orientation, most everybody in this thread (naturally) curses dust. And already, we’ve had some splendid recommendations about how to battle the tiny specks during the film loading process. Below are a few more remarks that I’ve shared before, and will be happy to share again. (Some have been mentioned above, but I think they probably bear repeating. )
To be a little more comprehensive, I’ll start a little before the actual film loading process, and go a little beyond it ... into the field. And I’ll concentrate less on film-sheet treatment (like Vaughn & Doremus “tapping” their sheets), and more on film-holder treatment:
1. First, I’ve purchased only new holders – or “like-new,” pre-owned holders – that really didn’t need any initial cleaning. (BTW, based on Zaitz’s post just above, looks like there’s a new convert to this idea!) I carefully cleaned them anyway before their first trip into the field.
2. When I load them, I first clean my work area of dust. Doremus has described this well above. For me, this simply means wiping or lightly sponging my work surface where the holders will sit. (And if it’s convenient, I’ll load them sometime after taking a shower. No, not to clean myself before loading, though that may be an unintended benefit. It’s to knock dust/static electricity out of the air, a problem in my work area.)
3. After loading a holder, I’ll place it in its own brand-new zip-lock bag. And I place these individual bags in another larger one, ready for my next field trip.
4. In the field, I minimize the time a holder is in the air. (This, I think, is among the most neglected of field habits, even by the most careful of photographers.) Only when I’m ready for a shutter click do I remove the holder from its bag. And after the click, back into the zip-lock bag it goes. Immediately.
5. When I’m back home, and it’s time to unload, my first step is to wipe-off (sponge-off) the outside of the bags, especially if I’ve visited a windy-dusty landscape. This is before I remove holders from them. And it’s also well away from my film loading area. It’s yet another overlooked habit that can make a difference. I then repeat Step 2 before final unloading...
“Dust-on-the-film” is now no more than a rare occurrence for me. (Managing dust around the darkroom enlarger or the scanner is another story.) And, I’ve never had to re-clean the holders – at least nothing beyond a casual wipe w/ anti-static, lint-free material. And that’s to remove the few specks of dust from the field that can only have landed on the holder during its few precious moments in the mountain air. ;^)