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How to clean glasses the right way

Illustration of how to clean eyeglasses

How to clean your glasses

Cleaning your eyeglasses daily is the best way to keep them looking great and avoid scratched lenses. But there’s a right way — and plenty of wrong ways — when it comes to how to clean glasses.

Follow these tips to clean your eyeglass lenses and frames to keep your glasses in top condition. These cleaning tips will also help you keep your sunglasses, safety glasses and sports eyewear in great shape.

1. Wash and dry your hands.

Before cleaning your eyeglasses, wash your hands thoroughly. Use lotion-free soap or dishwashing liquid and a clean, lint-free towel.

2. Rinse your glasses under a gentle stream of tap water.

This will remove dust and other debris, which can help avoid scratching your lenses when you’re cleaning them. Avoid hot water, which can damage some eyeglass lens coatings.

How do you clean your glasses?
We know it's convenient, but stop cleaning your glasses with your shirttail or your sleeve! It's not only an easy way to "clean" your lenses, it's also an easy way to scratch them. It also doesn't actually clean them.

Did you know there's a right way to clean your glasses? And it's not with your saliva (gross!) or a tissue.

Whether it's dirty lenses or an outdated prescription, visit a local eye doctor. They can show you how to correctly clean your glasses AND make sure your eyes are healthy and your prescription is up to date.

3. Apply a small drop of lotion-free dishwashing liquid to each lens.

Most dishwashing liquids are very concentrated, so use only a tiny amount. Or apply a drop or two to your fingertips before touching the lenses. Use only lotion-free brands.

4. Gently rub both sides of the lenses and all parts of the frame.

Make sure you clean every part of your glasses, including the nose pads and the temples of the frame. Also, clean the area where the edge of the lenses meet the frame — dust, debris and skin oils frequently accumulate here.

5. Rinse both sides of the lenses and the frame.

Failing to remove all traces of soap will cause the lenses to be smeared when you dry them.

6. Gently shake your glasses to get rid of most of the water on the lenses.

Inspect the lenses carefully to make sure they are clean.

7. Carefully dry the lenses and frame with a clean, lint-free towel.

Use a dish towel that has not been laundered with a fabric softener or dryer sheet (these substances can smear the lenses). A lint-free microfiber cloth is also a good choice. Make sure the cloth is perfectly clean. Dirt or debris trapped in the fibers of a towel can scratch your lenses. Also, any cooking oil, skin oil or lotion on the towel will smear your glasses.

8. Inspect the lenses again.

If any streaks or smudges remain, remove them with a clean microfiber cloth — these lint-free cloths are available at most optical shops or photography stores.

For touch-up cleaning of your eyeglass lenses, use disposable lens cleaning wipes. These are formulated specifically for use on eyeglass lenses.

Which brings us to a very important topic — what NOT to use to clean your glasses. [See below.]

Cleaning glasses: Don’ts

DON’T use your shirttail, blouse or other clothing to clean your glasses, especially when the lenses are dry. This can scratch your lenses.

DON’T use saliva to wet your lenses.

DON’T use household glass or surface cleaners to clean your eyeglasses. These products have ingredients that can damage eyeglass lenses and coatings.

DON’T use paper towels, napkins, tissues or toilet paper to clean your lenses. These can scratch or smear your lenses or leave them full of lint.

DON’T try to “buff away” a scratch in your lenses. This only makes the situation worse.

Eyeglass cleaners and cleaning cloths

Spray eyeglass lens cleaners are available where you purchase your glasses and at your local drug or discount store. These can be helpful if you are traveling or don’t have dishwashing soap and clean tap water available.

If tap water isn’t available, use plenty of the spray eyeglass cleaner to flush away dust and other debris from your lenses before wiping them dry.

If your lenses have anti-reflective (AR) coating, make sure the eyeglass cleaner you choose is approved for use on anti-reflective lenses.

When using disposable lens cleaning wipes, first inspect the lenses for dust or debris. To avoid scratches, blow any debris off the lenses before wiping them.

Microfiber cleaning cloths are ideal for cleaning glasses. These cloths dry the lenses very effectively and trap oils to avoid smearing.

But because they trap debris so effectively, make sure you clean the cloths frequently. Hand-wash the cloth using lotion-free dishwashing liquid and clean water; allow the cloth to air dry.

READ MORE: DIY Eyeglass Cleaner

How to remove scratches from glasses

Unfortunately, there is no magic cure for scratched lenses. Once your glasses are scratched, they are scratched.

Some products are designed to make the scratches look a little less visible. Most of these products are just waxy substances that wear off easily. Results with these products are mixed, depending on the location and depth of the scratches. Also, they often will smear anti-reflective lenses.

Besides reflecting light and interfering with vision, scratches can affect the impact resistance of your eyeglass lenses. For optimum vision and safety, replace your lenses if they become scratched.

When purchasing lenses, choose those that have a durable scratch-resistant coating. And ask your optician if your purchase includes an anti-scratch warranty — especially if scratched lenses have been an issue in the past.

Professional eyeglass cleaning

If your lenses are in good shape but the nose pads or other parts of the frame have become impossible to keep clean, return to where you purchased your glasses.

An eye care professional may be able to deep-clean your glasses with an ultrasonic cleaning device. They also can replace yellowing nose pads with clear new ones.

Store your glasses in a case

Eyeglass lenses can easily get scratched if you fail to store them somewhere safe. This includes when you take them off at bedtime.

Always store your eyeglasses in a clean storage case, and NEVER place them on a table or counter with the lenses facing down.

If you don’t have a glasses case handy, place your glasses upside down with the temples open — somewhere safe, where they won’t get knocked off a table or countertop.

Glasses don’t last forever

All eyeglass lenses will eventually get a few scratches. Eyeglasses lenses are scratch resistant, not scratch-proof.

When purchasing glasses, ask about anti-scratch warranties for your lenses. This is especially important for children’s eyeglasses or if you wear glasses in dusty conditions.

Following the above tips is the best way to keep your glasses clean and scratch-free for as long as possible.

If your lenses are badly scratched and your eyeglass prescription has expired — or you simply want new glasses — schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor near you.

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