How to Clean Eyeglasses [The Right Way]

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The lenses on your eyeglasses can become dirty and full of smudges from everyday wear and keeping your eyeglasses clean is the best way to be able to enjoy sharp, clear and unobstructed vision.

Not cleaning and caring for your glasses the right way can shorten the life of your glasses by scratching up the lenses even with the modern-day scratch-resistant lenses. So how do you clean your eyeglasses without damaging them? Here are some options.

How to clean eyeglasses

We’ve all reached down and used our shirt to clean our glasses and while that might seem like it is cleaning your glasses at the moment but you could be causing a little bit of damage every time you do so. Your shirt could contain dust, grime, and other particles that could easily damage your lenses.

I don’t believe that there is one true best way to clean your glasses but there are plenty of ways that you can clean your glasses without damaging them. There are also plenty of wrong ways you could be cleaning your glasses as well. Below you will find some right ways to clean your glasses, what not to do, and how to clean some specialty lenses.

Disposable pre-moist cleaning cloths

Disposable pre-moist cleaning cloths are a convenient way to keep your glasses in tip top shape. These cloths come individually packaged kind of similar to how an alcohol pad or a disposable towelette is packaged. You simply would tear the package open, open up the cloth, clean your eyeglasses, and dispose of the cloth when you are done.

These disposable cleaning cloths are great for when you are away from home and can be easily carried in your pocket or in your bag. Since they are nice and small, they can be quite handy to have around to be used immediately whenever you need.

The one important thing to keep in mind when you are using disposable pre-moist cleaning cloths is to ensure that there isn’t too much dirt and grime on your lenses before using them. If there is too much dirt and grime you could risk damaging your lenses.

If you want to use the disposable pre-moist cleaning cloths, the Zeiss brand are the best ones out there.

Cleaning spray with a microfiber cloth

This is definitely my personal favorite when it comes to cleaning my eyeglasses. I have a bottle of lens cleaner everywhere, from work to the car, gym bag, and even multiple places at home. Using a cleaning spray with a microfiber cloth is always my go-to method of cleaning eyewear.

I have always found it to be the most effective way to cleaning your eyeglasses and if your glasses are extra dirty you can always use more of the cleaning spray to ensure that you don’t scratch your lenses in the cleaning process.

This is my recommended microfiber cloth, it is is honestly one of the best microfiber cloths I have ever used and cleans very effectively. That paired up with a lens spray is always my go-to cleaning option.

Dish soap, warm water, and a microfiber cloth

This is one of the most common and most inexpensive options when it comes to cleaning your glasses. Using small drops of lotion-free dishwashing liquid on each lens and then gently rub on both sides of the lenses to create some lather on the lenses and glasses. Focus on areas where extra oils, make up, hair products and grime could build up such as the nose pads, the edge of the lens where the lens meets the frame, and the temples at the part that is resting on your ear.

Always make sure to rinse your glasses thoroughly with warm water and get off any residual soap that could smear on the lenses and leave a soapy film. Also, it is very important to make sure that you are using warm water and not hot water, the coatings on your lenses could potentially get damaged with too much heat.

After you have rinsed off your glasses you will then have to dry your glasses off with a soft towel that you could use to dry off the excess water. After you have dried most of the water off of your glasses, grab your microfiber cloth and remove the remaining water and polish the lenses until they are perfectly clean.

Ultrasonic Cleaner

An Ultrasonic cleaner can be a great way for you to clean your glasses providing you a way to get that dust and debris particles out of the tiny little cracks on your eyewear. Ultrasonic cleaners use ultrasonic sound waves to produce a force that helps loosen all the dirt in the areas that you normally would not be able to get to with normal everyday cleaning methods.

The best way to have your glasses cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner is to head to your local optical shop and ask if they could ultrasonic clean your glasses for you. Even though you could clean your glasses in the ultrasonic cleaner with the lenses in, It is safer for your lenses to be removed before the ultrasonic cleaning process hence the reason why I recommend taking it to your local eye care professional.

If you don’t live near an optical shop but would like to ultrasonic clean your glasses at home, I recommend the Magnasonic Professional Ultrasonic ($39.99 at Amazon), a device I have used in the past and does a great job at cleaning your glasses. You can also use this to clean your jewelry, watches, and coins. All you need to do is add some water, a few drops of dish soap and run it on a cycle no longer than 180 seconds. This ultrasonic cleaner has an auto-off feature which makes it safer to use with eyewear just in case you forget to turn it off.

Anti-fog Glasses Cleaner

Fogged up glasses can be quite annoying and dangerous when you are completely blinded by the fog. If you have ever stepped outside when it is humid after sitting in your car with the air conditioner on you will know that as soon as you open that car door, instant blindness. Even if you don’t live in a humid climate, glasses can easily fog up when temperatures start getting high outside, or whenever you participate in any high-intensity activity such as working out or playing a sport. Fogging up could even happen while you are cooking in the kitchen, definitely not fun to deal with.

So what can you do to help prevent your lenses from completely fogging up? There are quite a few products on the market that range between sprays to pastes that can be applied directly to the lenses and could help reduce or eliminate fog on the lenses.

The fog that appears on your lenses consists of small droplets of liquid water from whenever water vapor condenses on the cold surface of your lenses. These sprays and pastes create a thin film which lowers the water surface tension which that helps prevent the water molecules from sticking together and forming droplets on the lenses.

If you have issues with fog on your glasses, check out my list of best anti-fog for glasses.

What NOT to do when cleaning eyeglasses

Here are some things you shouldn’t be doing when it comes to cleaning your glasses, and a few other things you should be mindful of if you want your glasses to remain in its best condition.

  • Don’t Use Your Shirt – We are all guilty of reaching for our shirt to clean our glasses whenever we have a smudge that is interfering with our vision, but this is one of the worse things you can do. Not only is there dust and debris currently on your glasses that you are about to rub into your lenses, but there is also potientially dust and debris on the fabric of your shirt and you’re about to sandpaper it all onto your lenses.
  • Don’t Use Household Cleaning Products – Household cleaning products such as Windex generally contain ammonia-based ingredients which can be quite harsh for the coatings on your lenses. Stick to using cleaners specifically made for eyeglasses.
  • Don’t Use Paper Towels – Things such as paper towels, napkins, tissues or toilet paper isn’t as soft as you think and could potientially leave fine scratches on your lenses as well as lint. Stick with using a microfiber cloth or pre moist wipes designed for eyewear.
  • Don’t Use Saliva – It might be a better idea to just leave your glasses dirty at this point. While it may seem like a quick and easy way to get moisture on your glasses to clean them, this not only does not work well but your saliva is full of bacteria that could easily cause an eye infection.

How to remove scratches on glasses

While there are many different do it yourself suggestions online for how to get scratches out of glasses there is no true method that will actually remove scratches from your glasses. Home remedies using household products such as toothpaste may make your glasses appear to have fewer scratches, but you might not be able to see really well out of them and might cause more damage to your lenses than there was already.

Household products such as toothpaste and baking soda can be quite abrasive and actually remove the coatings off of your lenses.

Products that you can purchase from the store that is designed to fill in the scratches isn’t the best idea either because while it may fill the scratch in, but now whatever you just used to fill the scratches in is now in the way of your vision.

Therefore, there is no simple way to get scratches out of your prescription glasses and be able to see clearly out of them at the same time. I mean, if your glasses are completely destroyed already from scratches, then these DIYs might help extend their life a bit.

Can you use rubbing alcohol to clean your glasses?

Alcohol is commonly used in the lab and by opticians to clean various things off lenses and is generally safe to use on your prescription eyeglass lenses. However, if you have coatings such as anti-reflective or blue-light filtering coatings on your lenses you shouldn’t use rubbing alcohol as your primary lens cleaner. Alcohol can be harsh on your lenses coatings and could overtime wear off the coating faster if you are using it every day.

If you are someone who tends to get a lot of oils on your lenses and need an alcohol-based cleaner its best to make a solution at home vs purchasing in store. Alcohol-based eyeglass cleaners that are sold in store and online could at times contain as much as 90% isopropyl alcohol which can be quite harsh. Making an alcohol-based solution from scratch could give you an eyeglass cleaning solution that you know will be much less harsh using the following recipe.

After that, all you need to do is turn the bottle gently a few times to get the ingredients all mixed together without creating bubbles and your all set. Now you can spray your lenses and wipe them down with a soft microfiber cloth.

How to clean anti-reflective coating on glasses

Anti-reflective coating is a coating feature that is commonly offered by opticians to those that wear glasses to help reduce unwanted glare from lights that you may encounter as well as reducing smudges, dust, and water from sticking onto your lenses. It also allows people to see your eyes rather than looking at the reflection on your glasses, this is also true when you are taking a photo. Even though this coating is a hard coating and is fairly durable, at the same time it is also thinner than a strain of hair and will need some special care to ensure that the coating lasts for the lifetime of the glasses.

The main thing you should avoid when it comes to anti-reflective coatings is any cleaner that has any harsh ingredients such as ammonia, bleach, even vinegar. You may not see damage right away, but these harsh chemicals will slowly destroy your coatings.

My personal favorite is to use a cleaning spray that is approved for anti-reflective coatings such as Care Touch ($12.99 at Amazon) or Zeiss Lens Cleaner ($12.49 at Amazon), both cleaning solutions are alcohol and solvent-free and is safe to use on any coated lenses. Simply spray both sides of the lenses and polish dry with a soft microfiber cloth.

If you don’t have any cleaning sprays that are approved for anti-reflectice coatings you can simply get a bowl of water, add a few drops of dish soap, mix around with a spoon and put your glasses into the solution. After that use your fingers and gently clean the lenses to get whatever is on there off and take them out and polish dry.

The main takeaway here is to never clean your anti-reflective coated lenses when they are dry if there is still debris on the surface of the lenses the cloth can still rub that debris into the lenses causing scratches regardless of how soft the cloth is.

How to clean eyeglass frames

Making sure the frames on your eyeglasses remain clean along with your lenses is a great way to ensure that your frame says in top shape throughout the lifetime of your glasses. How you clean them just depends on what the frame material but here are tips for some of the most popular frame materials.

How to clean cellulose acetate (plastic) frames

Cellulose acetate plastic frames are one of the highest qualities and premium frame materials that is commonly used for eyewear due to its durability, hypoallergenic and is a sustainable material due to it being plant-based. The material can also be customized into basically any color and shape you can imagine.

How you take care of your acetate frames will ultimately determind how long they will last. Acetate frames are prone to fading/hazing around the temples and sometimes near the nose pads due to the oils and sweat from your body. Giving your acetate frames a wipe down at least once a day will ensure they stay in good condition.

How to clean metal frames

Metal frames which can be made out of a variety of materials including nickel, aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, beryllium, and monel are quite a popular choice of frame material and can be quite unique depending on the material. I recently fell in love with titanium frames due to their durability, and how lightweight they are compared to other metal frames as well as acetate frames.

Metal frames can be a little tricky to work with due to the harder to access parts such as the nose pads. The rest of the frame you would just wipe down at least once a day to ensure you don’t leave any oils or sweat to potientially corrode the frame. Some metal frames such are hypoallergenic materials and is corrosion-resistant which makes them perfect for those with metal allergies.

If you are getting a standard metal frame, generally these are made out of a material called monel which is an inexpensive alloy that is made up of nickel and copper. Monel is corrosion-resistant, however, if you have high skin acidity. or hanging out saltwater too much your glasses could potentially corrode and cause skin irritation at places the glasses touch your skin. Giving your frames a wipe down at least once a day will help keep your glasses in better shape for a longer period of time.

As far as the nosepads,. you can just use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently brush them to clean off anything that may have gotten stuck on them. Be mindful not to brush the lenses with the toothbrush, even though the bristles are soft they are still hard enough to leave scratches on your lenses.

How to clean rimless glasses

Rimless glasses are designed to have no rim around the lenses, and the temple arms are generally drill mounted onto the lenses. Leaving you with glasses that are nearly invisible when someone is looking at you from the front.

Cleaning these frames can be a challenge due to how delicate they are and they will need all the tender loving care they could get from you. Therefore you have to be mindful about how delicate they are and use practices such as taking your glasses off with both hands, and keeping your glasses in a safe case when they are not being worn.

When cleaning rimless glasses be as gentle as you can and give the entire frames and lenses and good wipe down at least once a day. Rimless frames generally will have nosepads as well and like metal frames can be cleaned with a soft bristle toothbrush to clean off any oils and sweat that could be stuck there.

Here is one last reminder, be gentle.

How to clean wood frames

When I first discovered wood frames I absolutely just loved how they looked and how unique each and every individual frame was. Cleaning wooden frames is a bit different when compared to other materials and you have to be careful with what types of cleaners you use to ensure that you don’t damage the wood.

The best way to clean wood frame is to use warm water to wash away any loose dirt and grime off of your glasses, use some dish soap that is free of lotion or fragrences to get rid of any oils on your glasses, finally wipe your glasses down gently with a microfiber cloth and let air dry for at least an hour.

Finally, to make sure that the wood finish stays good on your glasses use a wax such as lip-balm or beeswax and with a microfiber cloth apply it onto the frames gently.

You should not be using any cleaners that contain alcohol or other harsh solvents on your wood frames.

How to clean mixed material frames

Mixed material frames give you a unique look by combinding two different materials to make a single frame. Most mixed material frames combine acetate plastic and some sort of metal to give you a timeless look.

Depending on how the specific frame is constructed cleaning mixed material frames can be tricky. Oils could potientially get inbetween the metal and the acetate and get trapped. An ultrasonic cleaner might be the best way to clean out the small gaps in the frames and might be better off leaving for an optician to handle. But if you are not near one you could always do it yourself at home.

How to clean sunglasses

Sunglasses come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and are made out of a wide range of materials that includes pretty much all of the different frame materials that I have mentioned above and the cleaning process would be generally the same for sunglasses and other glasses.

One thing to be mindful of with your sunglasses is that if you spend the day at the beach or out hiking where you are going to be getting saltwater, sand, and/or sweat on your sunglasses be sure to rinse them off well and use some dish soap to really knock off all that grime before taking a soft microfiber cloth to finish polishing the lenses. That is especially important if you are dealing with sand as that will really mess up your lenses if you don’t rinse it off properly.

How to store your glasses

If you are not wearing your glasses then they should be put in your eyeglass case. The average home in the United States collects 40 pounds of dust a year, that is 40 pounds of potential scratches on your lenses if you leave your glasses lying around the house, not in their case.

Not only that, not leaving your glasses in your case could lead to a number of other things could potientally happen to your glasses if not properly such as getting lost, getting accidentally stepped on, hair spray getting on them, or if you have a dog, your dog chewing them up. So if you aren’t wearing them, put them in a case whether it is a single case, or for those of you with many glasses they have those storage cases that can hold multiple pairs of glasses. The one I have is the one that holds watches too, it was perfect as I am an owner of many watches as well as glasses.

Final Thoughts

Whichever way you decide to clean your glasses is completely up to you but the end goal is always going to be the same, keep your glasses clean and scratch free. Remember to always use a lot of liquid whether you are using a spray or rinsing it under your facet the more liquids you use the less likely your glasses will get scratched up.

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About Huy Le ABOC, NCLEC 119 Articles
Huy has been working in eye care for the last 10 years as an Optician, and Optical manager. He is coming to you as an expert in the field, as well as a long time eyewear user. He is bringing his expertise and unbias opinion on optical technology, frame styling, contact lenses, and eye health. He is on a mission to educate the world about the importance of eye health, as well as provide everyone with helpful tips to save money on all your eye care needs.Huy is certified by the American Board of Opticianry as well as the National Contact Lens Examiners and is a State Licensed Optician in the state of California. Huy is the founder of EyeHealthHQ.com and is currently an Optician in Los Angeles, CA.

12 Comments

  1. Hi! Thank you for these recommendations concerning how to clean our eyeglasses. I really found helpful the list of thing not to do, and I must confess I’m guilty of a couple of them. I have used paper towel and my shirt to clean my eyeglasses. Won’t do it again. I’ll also share this post with a friend that I have actually seen using saliva. I thought it was funny, but through your post I have discovered that it’s actually dangerous.

    I have a question. I have recently tried to remove scratches on my glasses using toothpaste (I know, bad idea!). How do I know I haven’t removed the coatings off of my lenses?

    • Are you still able to see clearly out of those glasses? You probably didn’t remove it if you only did it once, but toothpaste can be quite abrasive. 

  2. Dish soap is what I used to clean my glasses. I use coconut oil-based aroma oil frequently and that smudged my glasses all the time when my finger touches it. Not to mention the contact that comes with my oily face. I just pour some on my fingers, give it a good rub in and out of the lense and the nose bridge area and I let it air dry. I found that using cloth or towel can leave some fiber traces on the glass, rendering redundant cleaning. 

  3. Hello Huy,

    Very impressive information on cleaning your glasses the right way. I am a glass wearer and have always been cleaning my glasses with my shirt or anything available like a soft cloth. I notice when you buy a pair of glasses and it comes with a case and  it comes with a small cloth with the manufacturers name on it. For example Ray-Ban. I was using that as a cleaning cloth too because I thought it was for cleaning.

    I think I will change my way of cleaning and order something from one of your clean the right suggestions.

    One last note I bought a pair of glasses and they kept sliding off of my face, so I brought them into to be adjusted and noticed that an adjustment was made to one side only. The very next day I happened to shake my head in a way that cause them to slide off of my face again. 

    I called him on the phone and he said bring them back. The problem I have with bringing them back a second time is taking the time from my day when I was just there for the problem that should have been fixed on the first visit.

    Can you quickly explain how to adjust the stem piece to fit on your ear without melting or breaking it.

    Thanks.

    Jimmy 

    • Hi Jimmy, I don’t recommend attempting to adjust the glasses at home if you’ve never done it before. We generally use a heater to warm up the acetate and use tools to adjust the frames. Also, you run the risk of damaging your lenses from heat. Hope that helps!

  4. Hello!

    After reading your article I can see you now what wrong materials I was using to clean my glasses. I never really thought they were so bad. From now on I will have to correct a lot and have good special products for cleaning my glasses.

     I will thank you before making the purchase since I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina if I could receive the products at my address. Thank you very much for all the help you can give me.

    Regards! Claudio

  5. Hello, Huy Le. 

    Wow!  I never knew that there were so many ways to clean a pair of glasses.  I have used the spray solution from our local eyeglasses store and the microfiber cloth but I prefer the soap and warm water with a soft towel approach.

    I was introduced to this when I married my wife.  Up until then I always used a shirt tail or kleenex and, yes, even a paper towel, never thinking about what could be on them. (My wife helped me understand that area as well) The soap we use is a drop of hand soap used with a little warm water and then rinsed with warm water and dried with a soft cotton towel. This towel doesn’t get used for anything else.  We usually wash our frames the same way.

    I have heard about using “Anti-fog” spray and have used it myself.  My wife could benefit from this as well as she does most of the cooking and we all know what steam or warm air can do to cool lenses.

    The portion about removing scratches is very important.  I heard of some of the ways you say not to use and I thought it might not be a good idea anyway because it could change how the glasses work especially if the scratches are deep.  I think the best thing to do is either leave them alone, take them to the optical store or, get a new pair.

    Thanks for this information.  I think it will help many.  I know it’s given me a better understanding of how I should treat my glasses.

    Wayne

  6. Hi Huy.

    Thank you for an informative article on how to clean eyeglasses the right way. 

    I use my glasses with protective laboratory glasses which at times are not comfortable. Virtually I wear 2 pairs, one prescription and other laboratory safety glasses on the top.  It gets water drips from sweats on your foreheads and occasionally I have to wipe off the liquids deposited. I use paper towels or thin wipes. 

    You can get prescription eyewear but it gives a similar problem. Do you have a recommendation for cleaning up these glasses frequently?

    I was wondering about the availability of a self-cleaning pair of eyeglasses.

    • Hi there! If you have you clean your glasses frequently I would use a spray and a cloth if you are on the go. There are no glasses that self-clean that I know of.

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