Cleaning Up After A Darkroom Session - What do you do?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by holmburgers, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I've discovered that I spend more time cleaning up than I do actually going through the processing steps in a typical session of film developing.

    My darkroom is in a laundry room, and thus temporary, so I have to have everything cleaned out by night's end. The only thing remaining is a dish rack with all the stuff drying.

    But I basically "do the dishes" with all my graduates, tanks, empty bottles, etc. That is, I wash them in hot soapy water and then rinse them. I'm doing all of this in one utility sink. And mind you, I can't start until the film is washed, because that's sitting in the sink with the hose in it.

    Is all this necessary? If you had to "tear down" every time you used the darkroom, what do you think the most efficient way to do it would be?

    I'm getting faster at it, and I'm ensuring safety, repeatability and all that good stuff by having clean equipment, but I don't want to end up dreading darkroom work just for the cleanup.
     
  2. Ben 4

    Ben 4 Member

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    I Feel Your Pain

    It is annoying, and it does take a while, but here's what I do. I've never used soap to wash graduates, tanks, etc., just plenty of running water. I typically wash the graduates as I go, while the film is developing, stopping, fixing. It probably helps that I do my developing agitation every minute rather than every 30 seconds. If all goes well, once the film is hanging to dry, I've only got the tank and reels to wash.
     
  3. Monito

    Monito Member

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    I just wash in cold or warm water in a tiny ordinary bathroom sink in the laundry room where the darkroom is (no utility sink). I do not use soap. First, it can leave films that could reduce consistency of results and, second, it is not necessary.

    Soap is only necessary for grease and oil. Only a few very specialized alternative practices use oil or wax. Soap doesn't add any cleaning power for watery solutions.

    Graduated cylinders should be used only for solutions, so water is all that is needed to dilute them; lots of water. I mix powders in a large gallon bottle that I can reach in and wipe if necessary. But all powder chemicals need to be fully dissolved anyway, so again, water washes away solutions.

    I wash film and prints by six changes and stands, with lazy irregular agitation. So I wash and clean the other trays and measuring equipment while the photographs are washing, making sure that anything touched by fixer is washed before the last couple of changes so that there is no contamination at the last minute.

    All my trays are labelled anyway, so any possible spots of fixer on the fixer tray don't bother fixer. Fortunately I can leave enlarger and timer and paper boxes where they are, but all the trays have to be cleaned and picked up, possibly to dry elsewhere if time is short.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I leave everything in a mess and when it becomes too intolerable, I move my darkroom to another room in the house. It gets messy after a bit, but you learn to live with trays, film chips, paper fuzz and chemicals smells everywhere. You just have to keep the kids and pets from drinking out of the trays. :D :D :D

    We are running out of rooms! HELP!!!!!

    PE
     
  5. domaz

    domaz Member

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    I just use a Jobo Drum to develop B&W prints. I know this is considered heresy but that means no trays to setup or tear down. I just have to rinse a couple measuring graduates and bottles. That's all.
     
  6. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I just put everything back where it goes and rinse out what needs to be rinsed out. I come back later to put away the stuff I left out to dry.
     
  7. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    My darkroom 'wet side' is exactly like yours, Chris - a laundry room.

    I also don't wish to leave a mess, so I wash beakers, graduates, tanks, reels, etc as they have done their duty and aren't needed anymore. Like you I end up with a dish rack full of stuff drying until the next day, and then I put it away.

    Since I don't like air bubbles in my developer, I never use dish soap. I just rinse in hot water.

    - Thomas
     
  8. PeteZ8

    PeteZ8 Member

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    I never use soap either. It can only lead to problems as most of them can be very hard to rinse completely. Just rinse the graudates out with warm water and put them in a dish rack.

    I look at it this way; whatever microscopic amount of anything that may be left in a graduate after rinsing is in the parts per billions; compared to how much cross contamination that occurs in the development tank when processing film, that is nothing.
     
  9. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Why not use a small plastic dishpan as a container for film being washed, so that you can set it in the sink while you USE the rest of the sink to wash your darkroom items? A deep tray with a siphon washer allows you to wash prints on the counter, while leaving the sink fully usable. Put a Y splitter on the faucet, so that one side goes to the film/prints being washed, while the other side is free for rinsing your darkroom equipment.
     
  10. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    I wash, wipe down and vacuum before I use the darkroom with the exhaust fans running. It seems to cut down the lint, dust, dog hair I may have tracked in. That cuts down on spotting prints which I really hate.

    John Powers
     
  11. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Thanks everybody!

    This is great news actually. No more dish soap for me... this will definitely get me on to admiring my negs much quicker.

    It also makes sense that soap is unnecessary (and potentially harmful) since there are no oils to break down. The things you learn...

    :D

    Oh, and PE, with all the money you're getting from these workshops it's probably time to add another story onto your home.... right?!
     
  12. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I don't use soap either. I just rinse everything well and (since I have a dedicated darkroom) leave it to dry. When it's dry, I put it away. I don't want wet patterson reels stored on the shelf, especially looking like they are ready to use. I don't vacuum or dust; I just leave a small cheap honeywell air cleaner going much of the time to keep things dust free in there.

    Some 90% alcohol for the last step will get you admiring your negatives quicker too. Sold with the antiseptic products in the pharmacy section of your local big box retailer.
     
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Frankly, I'm losing money! :wink:

    I hope that book and DVD sales will finally balance the books.

    PE
     
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  15. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Maybe a little anal for most, but I clean up as I go. The processes used to develop various films are identical every time (that's the idea, right?), so I know in advance exactly what equipment will be used and need to be cleaned. I just do that cleaning as I finish up the final use of each equipment item.

    At the end of the session I have only the most recently used items left in the sink. These are finished off while the film washes. I then do a final distilled water rinse, hang the film to dry, and immediately get out to keep from stirring up any residual dust.

    When I return to take down and store the dried negatives the darkroom is already cleaned up and completely put away.

    Ken
     
  16. mouren

    mouren Member

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    For developing, I rinse as I go.

    For printing, I wash everything at the end, which can take some time.

    I have started using this
    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/998414-Clayton-Titan-Blue-Photo-System-Cleaner-32-oz.?cat_id=305
    Recommended to me by Freestyle folks.

    I dilute it and put it in one of those spray bottles, spray a few shots onto whatever equipment I am washing. It seems to work well. I also use it to clean off counter top and etc. I finally used it undiluated the other day, to clean off some tough spots on my stainless steel table.
     
  17. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Yes and Mrs PE has won the "most saintly wife in the U.S." every year for longer than anyone can remember:D


    Well its not surprising, is it?

    pentaxuser
     
  18. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Well, I applaud your clean up ethic, permanent darkroom or no. The essence of good technique is to clean as you go, as much as is possible, thus avoiding future contamination and inconsistent results. This also makes for a more pleasant work environment, particularly if shared. It is responsible and respectful. For myself, I just rinse everything well with plenty of hot water during and after each session – soap is generally overkill for most darkroom chemisty and simply one more group of chemicals, to rinse out.
     
  19. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    My clean up times come after a printing session with FB. I finish the second fix of all prints at once fished from a holding tray, rinse and HCA, then off into the rocking rack or if really big, a larger 20x24 tray with tray syphon. leave it to run for twenty minutes or so, and spend 20 minutes cleaning up. Turn off water and then go to bed. Finish washing in the morning.

    I usually wash up with a non-ionic lab detergent. It is amazing, and leaves virtually no residue. No slippery residue when handling wet glasswear I will dig up the name if any are interested.
     
  20. PeteZ8

    PeteZ8 Member

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    Also, to make things a little neater and cut down on post development cleaning I only use one graduate when doing small tank B&W. I mix D76 1:1, dump it in, then during however many minutes it's developing I rinse out the graduate and fill it with stop. After the stop, since there is no huge rush to go from stop to fix, I dump the stop back in my storage bottle, give the graduate a quick rinse, shake out some of the water, and fill it with fixer. Then while it's fixing I can wash the graduate and just dump the fixer straight from the tank to the storage bottle when that's done.

    When all is said and done, I wash the lid and light trap real quick then start the film rinse / hypo clear / wash cycle. By the time that is done, the tank and reel have washed themselves and I really don't have much cleanup. BTW I do all this in my rather smallish kitchen with one sink, so using this process helps keep it from being overrun with junk.
     
  21. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    My darkroom is a cupboard under the stairs. I'm lucky to have a Nova slot processor and so there's very little to clean up after printing and also little to set up before printing. I normally give the processor a wipe with a kitchen towel and turn off the thermostat. Once per year I give it a really good scrub to get rid of the crud.
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    My procedure for film uses bits of what others have mentioned.

    Basically, I try to use and re-use as few graduates as possible, save and except I dedicate one graduate to developer.

    I also re-use and replenish chemistry, so I need to keep the funnel clean as well.

    I keep my work area clean by working inside 11x14 trays, and on top of a plastic base for a dish drainer.

    As I work through the procedure, I just rinse the graduates and funnel in 20C water after each step.

    When I get to the wash step, I take advantage of the fact that I have a double sink. Washing is assisted by short periods of standing soak, so I just take turns doing a rinse of individual items during those soaks.

    Once the film has finished washing and the photo-flo step, I wash out the reels, tank (all parts), trays and drain pan in water as hot as I can stand.

    I don't use soap during my regular routine, but once every few months I'll run everything through a dishwasher without detergent or rinse aid.
     
  23. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I had a similar problem, only having one water faucet. I bought a 4 way brass hose splitter, so now I can wash film/paper while still having access to water. One of the smarter darkroom items I've purchased.
     
  24. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    What an interesting and informative thread.

    As others have mentioned, it's a little easier to clean as you go with roll film in tanks. Printing is a little more labour intensive, and in my case, since my print room is in a cellar without running water, involves carting all my trays up through the trap door in my kitchen and giving them a good, hot rinse.

    The real problem is that my printing sessions often end at 2:00 A.M., and I don't like to wake the War Department by running too much water at that hour. I will say this... once a tray is stained, it is really hard to clean. DON'T use abrasives! Occasionally, I'll use my wife's... er, I mean, an old toothbrush :whistling: to coax grunge from the bumps and channels in a soiled tray.
     
  25. jk0592

    jk0592 Member

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    After 15 minutes of film washing, I hang the film to dry. Then I wash, or rather splash, with lukewarm water only,without any soap, all graduates, funnels, tanks, spirals, thermometer, zone vi film washer. I let all of them to air dry overnight on an old hand dishwashing rack, and then store them the next day on their reserved space on the shelves, ready for the next developing session.
    Also, I wipe with a wet paper towel the old Gralab 300 timer to make sure that there is no contamination on it, followed by wiping with a dry paper towel. The part of the sink used during the process is also wiped by a paper towel. These towels are disposed of outside the darkroom, I am afraid of airborne chemical dust.
     
  26. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I'm fortunate to have a permanent darkroom with everything but a floor-level drain (I rely on a siphon that always breaks). I rinse the graduates as soon as I pour them in the trays, so at the end of a session they are already clean and in place for next session. As soon as last film or print has pretty much finished fixing, I open the curtains and start the dev and stop tray cleanup. I rinse the thermometer probe and clamp, I pour the fix and selenium toner into their bottles. And I carry the trays from darkroom sink to laundry tub to dump and rinse. They go into the drying rack and everything is where it needs to be next time.

    The one thing I learned worth sharing, when washing 11x14 trays under running water, turn the tray around so the bottom faces the wall when washing the bottoms and then turn them with the inside facing the wall when washing the insides. That way you don't get your shirt and pants wet.