After shooting in salt water and sand during our trip to Hawaii, our tripods were badly in need of cleaning. Since it’s important to clean your tripod now and then, we thought we’d share the process on our blog. We try to clean our tripods about twice a year – more often if we’ve been shooting in sand, salt water, or swamps. Grains of sand can work their way into the grooves and threads of your tripod – you’ll know they’re in there if you hear a grinding or grating sound as you turn the knobs or make adjustments to the tripod. (Cringe!) Salt water can corrode some metals – so you should rinse your tripod after shooting at the beach. And swamp water – well, the bacteria that grows in swamps can climb right into your tripod legs and just hang out there… multiplying happily until you open your tripod and discover that it really stinks! Cleaning the tripod isn’t particularly difficult… though it can take some time. Jay and I usually clean both tripods at once, so we set aside a morning to do it. We’ve done it many times, so we’ve got it down to a science, and we can complete the task quickly.
The first step is to take the tripod apart. Each tripod will be different – Jay and I both have Induro’s CT113 Carbon Fiber Tripod. The important thing is to keep track of where all those little pieces go, so that you can put it all back together when youree done. If you’re worried about putting it all back together, take some photos for reference as you work. You may find that there are more pieces than you expected. Here is a video that show you how we clean our tripods:
The frequency with which you’ll need to clean your tripod depends upon how you use it. If it never leaves the house, you probably don’t need to clean it at all. If you are shooting on the grass or a muddy path – just rinse the feet when necessary and you’re good to go. Rain won’t hurt your tripod – though prolonged exposure to moisture can cause some parts to rust… so take the time to dry it off when you come in and leave it open until it’s thoroughly dry. Always rinse your tripod if you use it in salt water – salt can cause corrosion as well.
Take simple precautions to help keep your tripod clean a little longer. When we are shooting in sand, mud, or water, we always extend the lowest leg of the tripod at least a few inches beyond the mess. That simple action keeps the joint up out of the muck. If you can avoid it, don’t immerse the joint in sand or salt water. But don’t worry too much if it does get into the joints. Just take some time to clean it up and you’ll be good to go!