Evidence Based

How to Clean Your Glasses Properly

How To Clean Glasses: Step-By-Step

Cleaning your eyeglasses regularly is the most effective way to keep them in good condition. This helps to prevent scratches, smudges, and grime on the lens and other damages. However, it’s essential to learn how to clean eyeglasses properly for the best results.

Follow these eight steps to clean your eyeglass lenses and frames without damaging the lenses. These tips will help you keep your safety glasses, sunglasses, and sports eyewear in excellent condition too.

Dangerous bacteria can grow on eyeglasses. This includes bacteria that causes staph infections.

  1. Wash and dry your hands

Before cleaning your eyewear, ensure that your hands are clean. That means removing any dirt, grime, lotion, or anything else that could affect your lenses. Use a dishwashing liquid or lotion-free soap and a clean lint-free towel to wash your hands.

  1. Rinse your eyewear

Rinse your eyeglasses under a stream of lukewarm water from the tap. This helps wash away any dust and other debris, which can scratch your lenses when you clean them.

Don’t use hot water. This can damage some eyewear lens coatings.

  1. Apply dishwashing liquid to your eyewear

Apply a small amount of lotion-free soap or dishwashing liquid to each lens of your glasses. Most dishwashing solutions are very concentrated, so it’s essential to use just a small drop.

  1. Clean the lenses

Gently clean both sides of the lens, and the entire eyeglasses frame for a few seconds. Ensure that you clean each part carefully. This includes the nose pads and the ends of the temples that sit behind your ears.

Don’t forget to clean the part where the edge of the lenses meet the frame. This is where dust, debris, and oils gather easily.

  1. Rinse the lenses

Wash both sides of the frame and the lenses thoroughly. Be sure to wash away all traces of soap. Otherwise, the glasses will be smeared when you dry them.

  1. Gently shake the eyeglasses

Gently shake the eyeglasses to remove most of the water from the lenses. Check the glasses to ensure that they’re clean.

  1. Dry the lenses

Thoroughly dry the eyeglasses lenses with a fresh, lint-free cleaning cloth or towel. Make sure the clean cloth hasn’t been laundered with fabric softener or a dryer sheet. These solutions can smear or smudge eyewear lenses.

  1. Inspect the lenses

Inspect the lenses of the eyeglasses. If there are still some streaks, smudges, or grime, remove them with a clean microfiber lens cloth. 

A cotton towel or cloth that you use to clean delicate glassware is also a good option. Make sure the cloth or towel is spotless. Dirt, grime, or debris stuck in the fibers of a towel or cloth can scratch eyeglasses lenses. Cooking oil, lotion, or skincare products can smear them.

For a quick cleaning touch-up when you don’t have the above supplies, look for disposable cleaning wipes. These are usually individually packed and are pre-moistened. These cloths work as an excellent lens cleaner and are explicitly designed for eyewear.

Lint-free cloths designed for cleaning glasses can also be bought from most opticians or photography stores.

Icon of a pair of glasses

Cleaning Supplies You Will Need

  1. Microfiber cloth or lint-free towel

Microfiber cloths work well for cleaning eyeglasses. The material dries eyeglass lenses effectively and collects oils to prevent smearing. As these cloths trap grime and debris well, ensure you clean the towels regularly.

Hand-wash the towel using lotion-free dishwashing liquid and clean water. Then, let the cloth air dry.

  1. Lukewarm tap water

Always use warm or lukewarm tap water. Hot water can damage some lens coatings.

  1. Safe cleaning solution or dish soap

Use a safe dishwashing liquid or a mild soap. If your lenses have an anti-reflective coating, make sure the eyeglass cleaner you use is suitable for AR lenses.

Icon of an eyeball with a diagonal slash over it

What Not To Do: Eyeglass Cleaning Materials To Avoid

There are plenty of materials you shouldn’t use when cleaning your eyeglasses. These include:

  1. Paper towels

It’s essential not to use paper towels, tissues, or toilet paper to clean your eyeglasses. This material can scratch or smudge your lenses. They can also leave lint on the glasses.

  1. Hot water

Hot water can damage some lens coatings.

  1. Acetone products

Never clean eyeglasses with products containing acetone, like nail polish remover. Acetone is damaging to both lenses and plastic frames, especially if left on the surface for too long.

  1. Saliva

Many people make the mistake of using saliva to lubricate eyeglasses lenses. However, this involves coating your lenses with germs from your mouth. This bacteria can then multiply.

From a practical point, saliva can also make a smudge on eyeglasses look worse.

  1. Clothing

Don’t use your clothing, such as your shirttail, to clean your eyeglasses. Many materials in clothing can scratch your lenses.

  1. Household Cleaners

Don’t use household glass or surface cleaning solutions to clean your eyewear. These formulas contain ingredients that can damage lenses and coatings.

Author: Ellie Swain | UPDATED August 7, 2020
Medical reviewer: MELODY HUANG, O.D. | REVIEWED ON August 4, 2020
Resources

Fritz, Birgit et al., ‘A view to a kill? - Ambient bacterial load of frames and lenses of spectacles and evaluation of different cleaning methods.’, PloS one vol. 13,11, 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6261565/

Ayanniyi, Abdulkabir A et al., Challenges, attitudes and practices of the spectacle wearers in a resource-limited economy., Middle East African journal of ophthalmology vol. 17,1 (2010): 83-7, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2880380/ 

du Toit, Rènée., How to prescribe spectacles for presbyopia., Community eye health vol. 19,57 2006: 12-3, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1705655/

Paper towel to clean your glasses? No!, University of Utah Health Care, 2017, https://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/postings/2017/02/clean-glasses.php

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