How to take care of your sunglasses
The famous actress Audrey Hepburn knew how to wear a pair of sunglasses: In the classic movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” she simply lowered then lifted her gorgeous, oversized, tortoiseshell-framed shades. The world hasn’t forgotten. Hepburn personified all that we love about sunglasses, along with the fact that they protect our eyes.
That image of Hepburn lowering her shades has stood the test of time. Your sunglasses can last a long time, too, if you take proper care of them.
“If you take good care of your sunglasses, they can last for 10 years or more,” says Floyd Randle Tibbs, an optometrist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
How can you take care of your sunglasses so they will last 10 years or more? Use these eight tips to extend the life of your favorite shades:
1. Protect your sunglasses from scratches
Glass lenses are more resistant to scratching than polycarbonate lenses, but whether your lenses are plastic or glass, it’s important to store your sunglasses in a case. Don’t just drop sunglasses in a purse, laptop or messenger bag, or shove them in your pocket. Your sunglasses are likely to get scratched by keys, pens or rough denim fabric.
A hard case is ideal, says airline pilot Steve Arbetman, who owns Flight Sunglasses. “If you don’t like carrying a hard case, at least put them in a microfiber pouch,” Arbetman says. “That will still protect your glasses and can double as a cleaning cloth.”
2. Get smudges off your sunglasses
Sunglasses are prone to smudges and grime — they pick up oils from our skin and fingers, specks of dirt and grime from the great outdoors, the residue of makeup, and a film of salt or chlorine from the ocean or pool.
To smooth away smudges, you should clean your shades every week or two, Tibbs says, and in the summer, “you may need to clean them almost every day.”
Start with clean, dry hands. Rinse your glasses under warm water, and soap up your fingers with a few drops of mild dishwashing soap, without harsh detergents or moisturizers.
“Rub the soapy water gently on the lenses, and rinse off. Then dry them with a microfiber cloth,” Tibbs says. You can also rub the nose pad and frames.
Be sure to avoid any type of paper product. “All paper contains wood fibers,” Tibbs says, “and they can scratch the lenses. Kleenex and other tissues often contain moisturizers that leave a film.”
Also avoid using your shirt to try and clean your glasses — we’ve all been tempted!
Once a year, you can take your sunglasses (and your glasses, too, if you wish) to the optician for an ultrasonic cleaning. “That can really freshen up the frame,” Tibbs says.
DO YOUR SUNNIES NEED AN ULTRASONIC REFRESH? Find an optical store near you and request this special deep cleaning service.
3. Avoid harmful cleaners
You should not use rubbing alcohol, Windex, vinegar or any other household cleaner on your glasses.
Don’t breathe on your sunglasses and then wipe them, either.
“Use an approved lens cleaner,” Tibbs says. Only use a microfiber cloth especially made to clean glasses. If the cloth gets dirty, you can either launder it or buy a new one.
4. Don't leave your sunglasses in the car
Never place your sunglasses on the dashboard, where heat is particularly intense, and take them with you when leaving the car parked on hot days.
“Extreme heat can be generated by the windshield of your car, particularly in summer,” Arbetman says. “That heat can actually cause the lens of your sunglasses to delaminate.” The mirroring and anti-reflective coatings on the lenses may actually degrade.
While driving, if you’re not wearing your sunnies, keep them in a hard eyeglass case. A hard case will also protect them from getting stepped on if they fall to the floor of the vehicle.
5. Properly place your sunglasses on your face
Try not to grab your glasses by the arms. “Hold them by the bridge so you don’t bend the arms,” Arbetman says. “People often put their glasses on by holding one arm, and over time the arm can bend a little. But remember, good glasses can easily be readjusted.”
If your sunglasses are seated slightly crooked on your face, a simple adjustment can be done at any sunglass store or optician.
6. Prepare a home sunglasses kit
Taking care of your sunglasses starts at home and with a sunglasses care kit.
Your home sunglasses kit should have several clean microfiber cloths, a professional lens cleaning solution, a hard case, a soft microfiber pouch and a small bottle of simple dishwashing soap.
7. Special care for some polarized or mirrored lenses
Care for polarized sunglasses and mirrored sunglasses is the same as any pair of glasses, but Arbetman says higher-quality lenses place the mirror inside the glass, while less-expensive lenses may spray on the mirroring.
“Spray-on coatings are more vulnerable to scratching and chemicals,” he says. “The higher quality your glasses, the more durable they are and easier to keep clean.”
8. Stop losing your sunglasses
The key to not losing your sunglasses is to keep specific habits. Always put them in the same place when storing them.
“Some folks won’t buy an expensive pair of sunglasses because they’re afraid of losing them,” Arbetman says.
If you are prone to losing (or misplacing) your sunglasses, you may also want multiple pairs. “Have a pair for your car, a pair for your purse, a pair for your house,” he suggests. “I have a pilot bag and my pilot sunglasses always stay in that bag.”
Other ways to keep your sunnies from going missing? Be careful about placing glasses on a table at a restaurant, where you may forget them. Buy a neck cord if you’re going to be traveling.
And finally, turn to technology. There are now eyewear trackers which clip onto the arm of any pair of glasses, and connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Voila! Lost sunglasses will never be lost for long.
SHOP FOR SHADES TO LAST 10 YEARS OR MORE (OR A BACKUP PAIR): Check out your sunglasses options at an optical store near your or at an online eyewear retailer. ... Oh, and maybe ask about an eyewear tracker.
Page updated January 2021