Abstract The goal of this study was to evaluate the cleaning ability of three acid irrigating solutions after hand and rotary instrumentation. Eighty human teeth were randomly divided in eight groups. Four groups were prepared with hand instrumentation and other four with ProTaper. The irrigating solutions were 15% citric acid plus 2.5% NaOCl; 15% EDTA plus 2.5% NaOCl; 5% orthophosphoric acid plus 2.5% NaOCl; and 2.5% NaOCl alone as control. Canal walls were observed with scanning electron microscopy, and photomicrographs were taken in apical, middle, and coronal thirds. A scoring system for debris and smear layer was used. Acid solutions with 2.5% NaOCl were effective in the elimination of smear layer or debris, and no significant differences were showed in smear layer removal between techniques. However, 2.5% NaOCl did not remove smear layer or debris, and no significant differences in debris were observed between manual and rotary techniques.