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A Comparison of Cleaning Regimes for the Effective Removal of Fingerprint Deposits from Brass


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John W. Bond, D.Phil.
Scientific Support Unit
Northamptonshire Police
Wootton Hall
Northampton NN4 OJQ


Abstract:  Effective removal of fingerprint deposits is crucial for experimentation related to the corrosion of metals by fingerprint deposits. Such removal is also necessary prior to deposition of test fingerprints. The effectiveness of four regimes in removing fingerprint deposits from brass is considered. Sustained wiping of the deposit with a tissue at applied pressures of up to c. 1430 Pa or rubbing while the brass was immersed in acetone both failed to remove completely all traces of fingerprint deposits. Heating the brass to 600°C was an effective remover; however, this also oxidized the surface of the metal except where inhibited by fingerprint deposits. The most effective regime, and the only one of the four that removed all traces of deposit without affecting the properties of the metal surface, was immersion in warm soapy water while rubbing with a tissue. We propose this as the preferred method for fingerprint removal.

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