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  1. #1
    holmburgers's Avatar
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    Cleaning Up After A Darkroom Session - What do you do?

    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. #2

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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. #3

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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. #4
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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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.

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

    PE

  5. #5

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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. #6
    2F/2F's Avatar
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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.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  7. #7
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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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
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  8. #8

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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. #9
    wiltw's Avatar
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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. #10
    jp80874's Avatar
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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

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