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There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to see through a dirty pair of spectacles. Smudges on the lenses prevent you from seeing clearly. Unlike regular glass, the lenses on a pair of eyeglasses have protective coatings that can get damaged by certain cleaning products.
Here’s how to keep your eyeglasses clean. Lukewarm water, a soft lint-free cloth (such as microfiber), and mild soap (such as dish soap) are all you need for daily cleaning. To avoid damaging the frames and lenses, stay clear of strong chemical cleaners containing bleach or ammonia.
Let’s take a closer look at some important do’s and don’ts when cleaning your eyeglasses. Plus, we have an easy DIY alcohol-free cleaning spray you can make at home!
Why you should keep your eyewear clean
With regular use, it’s only natural that glasses get dirty.
Cleaning your eyeglasses is a very important habit. Eyewear sits front and center on your visage and is in constant contact with ears, nose, and skin around the face.
A formal analysis published on PLOS One looked at the microbial load on various spectacles worn by subjects in a university setting and a nursing home. They found that nose pads and ear pieces are the two areas with the highest levels of bacteria (which makes sense as they are in constant contact with skin).¹
Most of the bacteria found on the eyewear had human skin origins, and many were found to be harmful pathogenic strains. This includes S. epidermis, S. hominis, and S. aureus which are linked to eye diseases.¹
Therefore, eyeglasses are considered fomites, items that may carry infection.¹
All the more reason to keep those specs sparkling clean!
A daily clean will prevent any dirt or debris from scratching the delicate lenses.
Besides, most prescription frames don’t come cheap. Learning the proper way to clean your glasses prevents damage to the lens (and any lens coatings) keeping your eyewear in good shape for the long run.
What’s the best way to clean your eyewear?
The best way to clean your spectacles is to use a mild soap such as dishwashing liquid soap without any added lotions, lukewarm water, and a soft microfiber cloth. This helps remove oil buildup, smudges, as well as any dirt or debris.
Eyeglass cleaning: do’s and don’ts
How do you clean those smudges and keep your glasses in tip-top shape? Let’s take a closer look at a few cleaning tips on how to clean your glasses the right way.
- Use a soft cloth: Many people use microfiber, but any soft, lint-free, and absorbent cleaning cloth will work.
- Keep your cloth clean: Don’t forget to wash your cleaning cloth regularly to prevent debris from scratching the lenses. Most lens cleaning cloths you get from the optometrist can be hand washed in a soapy solution of mild soap, and hung to dry.
- Clean daily: While cleaning your specs might not make the top of your to-do list, adding it as part of your regular routine keeps germs at bay and your lenses sparkling clean.
- Clean the nooks and crannies: While the lenses and frames get the most attention (understandably), don’t forget to clean the nose pads and ear pieces (temple tips)! These two high-touch areas are often neglected. Other areas to clean are the bridge, sides of the lenses, and any neglected nooks and crannies.
- Use hot water: When rinsing your specs, avoid using hot water as it can warp or damage frames.
- Use paper products: The lenses of your glasses are made from delicate materials that can be easily scratched. Paper towels have a coarse texture which can scratch glasses. Tissues or toilet paper will leave fuzz behind.
- Use your shirt: Sure, it’s always within reach, but using your shirt to polish your glasses isn’t recommended as it could scratch the coating on the lenses.
- Use regular cleaning products: Many commercial cleaning products contain ammonia or acetone which can strip off coated lenses. Stay clear of any harsh chemical products on eyeglasses.
- Use soaps with lotions: Many liquid hand soaps have extra additives like lotion for making your hands silky soft. But, if used on glasses, this type of soap can leave a filmy residue and damage the lens.
- Use your breath or saliva: Avoid breathing on your lenses to fog them up before cleaning, and please don’t use your own saliva to clean your specs. These two techniques will only spread potentially harmful bacteria (which is the very thing you’re trying to clean!).
- Wipe your glasses dry: Without the lubricating effects of water, you could risk scratching your glasses when dry wiping the lens with dirt or debris.
Can you use Windex to clean glasses?
While it’s easy to see why many turn to Windex to clean, no, it’s NOT safe to use on eyewear. Windex (and other types of window cleaner) contain ammonia which can dissolve any special coatings on your lenses, and potentially discolor the frames.
How to keep your eyeglasses clean step by step
Ready to banish those smudges? Here’s how to clean your lenses and frame in 5 easy steps. Make this part of your daily routine for optimal eye care.²
Note: This dish soap method works for both metal and plastic frames. Avoid getting wooden frames overly wet. Instead, check out the DIY cleaner spray below to clean wooden framed glasses!
Supplies you’ll need:
- Lotion-free mild soap (such as Dawn dish soap, or Castile soap)
- Soft lint-free cloth (such as a clean microfiber cloth)
- Lukewarm water
- Wash your hands first: It’s important to start with clean hands to avoid spreading bacteria, or transferring lotions or oils from hands.
- Rinse your glasses: Give your specs a quick rinse under lukewarm water to loosen any debris and wet the surface to make it easier to clean.
- Add a squirt of mild soap: Add a small drop of dish soap to each lens on both sides. Using your fingers, gently clean the lenses and frame with your fingers. Don’t forget to clean around the nose area (especially if you have nose pads) and the ear pieces.
- Rinse again: After your eyeglasses are done with their soapy wash, rinse them again under lukewarm water. Shake off excess water.
- Dry your glasses: Use a soft cleaning cloth to dry the lenses and frame.
Easy DIY alcohol-free glasses spray
Keep your glasses clean with this easy eyeglass spray (with no alcohol). Stash a bottle of this cleaning solution with you in your bag to care for your specs on-the-go.
The jury is still out whether rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) is safe for lenses. Many people say it will dissolve any protective coating over time on your eyeglass lenses, while others suggest using a diluted 50/50 spray with rubbing alcohol and water.
While many eyeglass cleaner sprays or towelettes contain some type of alcohol, let’s err on the side of caution and avoid using alcohol altogether.
Instead, let’s harness the natural cleaning power of witch hazel. Wait—doesn’t witch hazel contain alcohol?
While it’s true that some witch hazel products may contain alcohol, not all of them do. The composition of the finished product has to do with the manufacturer’s distillation method. Thayers Witch Hazel products are alcohol-free as they use a special maceration technique.
Witch hazel derives its cleaning power through naturally occurring tannins. (I also love using witch hazel as a facial toner!)
Supplies you’ll need:
- Witch hazel
- Distilled water
- Spray bottle
- Mild lotion-free soap
- Combine equal parts witch hazel and distilled water in a spray bottle.
- Add a drop or two of liquid soap. Shake to combine.
How to store glasses properly when not in use
There are simple things you can do to keep your spectacles in good shape when they’re not sitting on your nose.
- Avoid leaving in a hot car: On a hot sunny day, the heat and light can do a nasty number on a pair of glasses—especially if you leave them on the dashboard.³
- Proper storage: Place your glasses in a storage case when not in use, especially if you’re putting them in a purse or bag. This protects your glasses from damage from things like keys and coins, plus keeps them clean from everyday dust and debris.
- Place them face up: Okay, I have glasses and I must admit, I don’t always put them back in their case. But at the very least, you could store your glasses on a table or nightstand with the lens facing up.
- Avoid keeping on a bathroom vanity: The bathroom is a busy place where cosmetics, lotions, and sprays could smudge up your glasses, or pick up splatters and other spills. Hair spray or perfumes may damage the anti-glare coating.
👉If you like this post, see other Timeless Cleaning Tips You Need To Know.
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- Fritz, B., Jenner, A., Wahl, S., Lappe, C., Zehender, A., Horn, C., Blessing, F., Kohl, M., Ziemssen, F., & Egert, M. (2018). A view to a kill? – Ambient bacterial load of frames and lenses of spectacles and evaluation of different cleaning methods. PloS one, 13(11), e0207238. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0207238
- The Vision Council, How To Clean Your Eyewear, https://thevisioncouncil.org/sites/default/files/assets/media/Cleaning-Frames.pdf. Accessed February 2023.
- Consumer Reports, How to take care of your eyeglasses, https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/08/how-to-take-care-of-your-eyeglasses/index.htm. Accessed February 2023.