How to Fix a Nikon D70 Sticky Rubber Grip

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: September 25, 2019
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Nikon D70 DSLR

One of the common problems with the Nikon D70, and many older Nikon 35mm SLRs, is the rubber on the grip breaks down and becomes sticky.

Unless fixed, the sticky grip makes the camera unusable. The tacky feeling makes the camera uncomfortable to hold and will leave a residue on your hands.

70% Isopropyl Alcohol Worked...

I tried half a dozen different chemicals, but the only thing that worked was 70% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). It was not a quick fix, but 90% isopropyl alcohol may have worked faster.

Keep in mind, there is no fixing the rubber. The isopropyl alcohol will remove the rubber that has broken down and become sticky.

The Process I Used

To remove the sticky rubber, you're going to need lots of paper towels. Get a paper towel damp with the isopropyl alcohol and gently wipe the sticky rubber.

You want the grip to be damp. The isopropyl alcohol will slowly break down the rubber.

After 20-30 seconds, wipe off the grip and see if it is still sticky. If it is, repeat the process. (I spent 15 minutes doing this.)

Rubbing hard does not speed up the process. Instead, the paper towel is going to break down and your grip will be covered by paper towel fibers.

Make sure to do this in a well ventilated area. The isopropyl alcohol will give off fumes.

Wearing rubber gloves is also a good idea to prevent the skin on your hands from getting very dry. Also, be careful because both are flammable.

Where to Find Isopropyl Alcohol (Rubbing Alcohol)

You can find isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, in the first aid section of any pharmacy. It is used to sterilize equipment and cuts.

The other 30% or 10% is distilled water. So you could weaken the strength of what you buy with distilled water.

70% vs 90%

I went with 70% because it was what I had on hand.

70% produces fewer fumes. It is also less likely to cause damage, such as removing a finish or printing, if use to clean/disinfect something.

90% will be safe for use on a camera. It should also work faster. Just be careful if you use it on something else.

As mentioned previously, both are flammable. The 90% is more concentrated, so it carries a slightly higher risk.

Other Chemicals Tested

  • 70% Isopropyl Alcohol
  • ArmorAll Matte Finish Protectant
  • Lens Cleaner
  • Vinegar
  • Windex
  • Goo Gone

Why the Rubber Becomes Sticky

The sticky grip is caused by the rubber breaking down. This can be due to the rubber aging, being in a hot environment, or from long exposure to sunlight (UV).

For rubber that has completely broken down, you'll have to remove all of it. This is common on the back of 35mm SRLs, like the Nikon N70.

If you need to remove all of the rubber, find a piece of plastic you can scrape the rubber off with. After a few minutes of exposure to the rubbing alcohol

Chemicals I Didn't Test

  • Lighter Fluid (Naphtha)
  • WD-40

I didn't use either of these because they are strong solvents. You'll need to be outside or have active ventilation if you use them. You should also wear gloves to protect your skin.

In addition to removing the rubber, they can also damage the plastic on the camera body. If you attempt to use either chemical, test a small patch on the bottom of the camera to make sure they won't damage the plastic.

I would not recommend using them. I occasionally use naphtha to clean lens elements. It is highly volatile, and not pleasant to be around.

The rubbing alcohol is "flammable" while lighter fluid is flammable. Keep that in mind for storage as well as use.

4 comments on “How to Fix a Nikon D70 Sticky Rubber Grip”

  1. Hi - My old D70 was virtually unusable due to the rubber breaking down and causing 'sticky handgrip syndrome', so I'm very grateful to you for your article. After reading it and researching further I realized I might be able to use some Hand Sanitiser... As a 'lockdown special' I found I had some labeled as "Colwith Spirit 80%" made by the Colwith Farm Distillery in Cornwall: 80% ethanol, 1.45% glycerol and 0.125% hydrogen peroxide. Following your procedure Nathaniel but using this Colwith Spirit my old D70 has been rendered completely useable again, recovering from sticky handgrip syndrome after a little rubbing & TLC. Brilliant! My old Roland R-05 has been similarly resuscitated.
    Many thanks once again for your informative article.

  2. I have several Nikon film cameras (I never replaced them when I upgraded), which had grown sticky since being stored - funnily the much older Nikon FE was unaffected. I started with the handgrip of an F55, using baby wipes. It soon cleared the sticky feeling, though be aware the tissue in the wipes can leave flecks of white behind. Next were two F70 bodies, where the backs were affected, but the grips were fine. Several applications with the baby wipes removed all the sticky rubber down to the hard plastic on both bodies, and are usable for my renewed interest in film photography. Finally, my first digital camera, a D70, had a sticky grip and CF card cover. Baby wipes again, and all clear now.

  3. Thank you. I used 90% and a fine soft rag and it worked like a charm. Sometimes I added my fingernail to loosen up some thick narrow areas but the alcohol then took it right off. I was surprised how much of the camera was involved.

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