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How to Clean Your Eyeglasses

How many times have you watched someone take off their glasses, breathe on them to create some type of moisture and then wipe them on a shirt or pants? Probably so frequently that this actually seems like the normal method of cleaning glasses.  Chances are you’ve done it too! No judgment.

Sure it’s easy and fast and whatever giant smudge was obscuring your vision is gone so it seems effective. But is it really? While cleaning glasses this way may seem like a widely accepted short term solution, it has the potential to do more long term damage to your lenses than you might think.

So how should you be cleaning your eyeglasses to ensure you can see as clearly as possible as long as possible?

Glasses Cleaning Supplies

There are exactly four supplies that are needed in order to properly clean your eyeglasses:

  • Water
    • Tissues
    • Eyewear Spray
    • A Microfiber Cloth

The most important thing here to remember is that liquid is key to cleaning your lenses correctly.

Our co-owner and co-founder Ruth Domber, has a favorite analogy for the way for the glasses cleaning process:

“If you took a shower and put soap all over your body and used a washcloth BUT never turn on the water, what would your skin look like after a while? You need the water!”

A few other considerations, to keep in mind are that tissues with lotion or medication are great for sore noses, but not so much for cleaning glasses. Tissues with lotion will shmear or smudge on the lenses.

Eyewear spray is a crucial part of the eyeglass cleaning process because it will remove oils and the stuck-on fingerprints that are present from daily wear. It is also specially formulated not to damage the digital lens coating your glasses may have. Lastly, a microfiber cloth is used to buff out anything that was missed by the water and eyewear spray.

Proper Technique

There are three pretty simple steps to safely and thoroughly cleaning your glasses.

Step1: Start by wetting the lenses with water and wiping them dry with a tissue. This process will remove the surface debris from the lenses and prep them for the second step.

Step 2: Next, you will wet the lenses with your eyewear spray. You can find eyewear spray in most stores and pharmacies, but it can also be provided by your eye doctor or optician. After you have fully coated the lenses with eyewear spray, you will then wipe them dry with a tissue. This removes the oils and stuck on fingerprints.

Step 3: Once your lenses are dry, you will want to gently buff the lenses with a microfiber cloth, to remove any smudges that might have been missed in the previous steps.

What Can Happen If You Don’t Clean Your Glasses Right

Three steps isn’t a long process to clean glasses, but let’s face it we live in a world where most of the time we’re looking for a single step solution.  What’s really so bad about just wiping them off anyway? Here are a few of things that can happen when we take short cuts when cleaning your glasses.

  • You Can Scratch Your Lenses – No matter how soft and comfortable your shirt is, it’s not made to clean corrective lenses.  Using the wrong fabric, especially on dry glasses creates a significant risk of scratching your lenses. The same holds true for trying to “buff away” a scratch in your lenses. It really only makes the situation worse. If you’re concerned about a scratch, bring it to an eyeglasses store to have them fix it.
  • You Can Damage the Coating– Glasses lenses can be covered with special coatings to help with everything form UV rays to scratch resistance. These coatings can be stripped away by household glass or surface cleaners. So even though your spray says “all-purpose” that doesn’t mean this purpose. Stick with glasses spray or plain water.
  • Lint Absorption– Do not use a regular towel to clean your glasses. Our favorite bathroom towels, are fuzzy and soft. That means they have lots of material to shed. Using a regular towel can leave your glasses full of lint and even get fibers stuck between the frames and the lenses which ultimately just leads to another problem.

What to Do in a Pinch

We know that eyewear spray may be the kind of thing that slips your mind when you’re building a shopping list. But smudges and marks will still happen. So if you forgot to pick up a new bottle there are a few DIY options:

Eyewear Spray Substitution:

  • Vinegar and Dish Soap: Mix one cup of vinegar and 1⁄2 tsp dish soap with one-gallon warm water.
    • Rubbing Alcohol and Dish Soap: Add 1⁄2 cup rubbing alcohol and two squirts of a dish soap that doesn’t contain phosphorous to one gallon of warm water.
    • Vinegar and Corn Starch: Mix one cup vinegar, and 1/8th cup corn starch to one gallon of water and mix till the cornstarch is dissolved, because undissolved powder can create scratches.

After you have created the mixture, you’ll still want to use a spray bottle to dispense it.

If you do not have eyewear spray or you’re at work where they seem to have run out of vinegar, rubbing alcohol and cornstarch, a tissue, water and some gentle soap will do in the short term. After you’re done washing away the soap, use a tissue or microfiber or just the lenses air dry. In a situation where no water is available a dry rub with a microfiber cloth will get the job done, but go through a full cleaning when you can. If you’re a glasses wearer, a glasses cleaning cloth should probably earn a permanent home in your purse, briefcase or other bag that you carry regularly.

Yes, our methods are a little more involved than rubbing your glasses clean on the inside of your sweatshirt. But we swear, it’s worth it. This is your vision, it’s how you see the world, and how the world sees you! You’ve spent valuable time choosing the right glasses for you, now spend a little extra time on the cleaning process to make sure you protect your glasses and see clearly.