How to Clean (Eye) Glasses

If you wear glasses or even just sunglasses, you’ll know that these get dirty really easily. Finger marks, cooking splatter and general dirt and debris from day to day use build up on the lenses effecting your visibility and even causing hygiene issues.

When you think about how often we wash and change our clothes in comparison to how infrequently we clean our glasses, it’s actually a little shocking, particularly when you consider how close our glasses are to our eyes and mouth.

It’s not just the lenses we need to worry about. The frames can also build up a layer of skin, makeup, perspiration and dust.

Never use hot water or any abrasive surfaces to clean your glasses. You should also avoid using household glass cleaners on eyeglasses as these will almost certainly damage the fragile lenses and may remove the protective coating.

Although it’s very tempting to simply wipe glasses in our clothing or use tissues and paper towels for a quick polish, this is generally not a good idea. Clothing often contains dust and other particles which can scratch lenses and tissue and paper towels are too rough for this job. They are also liable to leave fibres behind which affect visibility.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that your glasses are scratch-proof, even if you’ve paid extra for an anti-scratch coating on your glasses. Modern technology has made eyeglass lenses tougher than ever before but it’s still pretty easy to scratch glasses as I’ve learned to my own detriment!

There are a few products advertised online which claim to remove scratches from your lenses, not to mention hundreds of videos and tutorials promising you solutions with toothpaste, baking soda, vinegar and all sorts of other substances.

Trust me, when your glasses are scratched, they are scratched and no amount of toothpaste is going to bring them back. Prevention is always better than cure so try to protect your glasses from getting scratched in the first place.

How To Clean Your Glasses

For daily cleaning, the best thing to use on your glasses lenses is a soft, dry, lint-free cloth.

Most optometrists sell special soft microfibre cloths that are designed to remove dirt and polish your glasses without any risk of scratches. Microfibre fabric is designed to pick up even the tiniest particles of dust, debris, grime and bacteria without any need for sprays or detergents.

You usually get one of these cloths for free when you buy a new pair of glasses but you can also buy replacement cloths online:

Cleanix Glasses Cleaning Cloths come in packs of 10 and are the perfect size and shape for cleaning eyeglasses. They are designed to be used without any cleaning fluids or sprays and can simply be wiped over the lenses, picking up any surface dust, grime or oily residue.

These soft microfibre squares won’t scratch or damage your glasses or sunglasses and can easily be washed by hand or in the washing machine. You can also use these on camera lenses and on all tablet and laptop screens.

Cleanix Glasses Cleaning Cloths are available on Amazon.

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Washing Your Glasses

While a soft, dry cloth is all you need for day to day cleaning, if your glasses do get really dirty, optometrists recommend washing them with soap and water to eliminate grease, grime and bacteria. Touching your lenses with greasy hands, splashes from being outside in bad weather or contamination from tough work environments can often leave you with glasses that need more than a wipe with a microfibre cloth.

You can use a gentle hand soap to wash off grease, grime and debris.

  1. Wet your glasses and work a small amount of soap onto the lenses and frame with your fingertips.
  2. Rinse off with lukewarm water and then dry gently with a microfibre cloth.
  3. Be extremely careful not to rub your lenses too hard and ensure that the cloth you use is clean and free of dust or debris which could scratch the lenses.

Be careful of the small screws on the frame of your glasses and any other metal parts. Always make sure that these are dried off properly or they could rust.

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Specialist Glasses Cleaners

If your glasses don’t merit a full-on wash but you want to freshen up the lenses and clear smudges, you can use a spray or detergent to clean them.

HG makes a special cleaning fluid which is designed specifically for eyeglasses. It can also be used on sunglasses, plastic glasses and on camera lenses too. The cleaner comes in a 200 ml spray bottle and is very easy to use.

You simply spray a small amount directly onto your glasses and wipe gently with a microfibre cloth. As well as cleaning your glasses lens, the spray leaves an invisible protective layer which stops your glasses from steaming up which is one of the worst things about wearing eyeglasses.

HG’s eyeglass cleaning spray is very reasonably priced and the 200ml bottle should last you for years!

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For quick cleaning on-the-go, Zeiss Lens Wipes come in packs of 30 or 200 individually wrapped wipes. These are really handy for use when travelling as you can easily pop a few into your pocket, handbag or glasses case. They’re especially convenient because they are also suitable for phones, cameras, tablets and laptop screens.

The wipes contain antibacterial agents and are designed to quickly remove greasy residue and smudges without any risk of scratching or damaging your glasses.

The solvent evaporates immediately leaving you with a dry finish and enhanced visibility and hygiene.

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Zeiss Lens wipes are available from Amazon and the company also makes a popular lens spray which can be used in combination with a microfibre cloth on all glasses, optical lenses and screens.

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Sodial’s Microfiber Glasses Cleaning Brush is an innovative tool that you can use to quickly and hygienically clean glasses and sunglasses on-the-go. The cleaner is made up of two small microfibre brushes which are clipped together and magnetised so they clean both sides of your glasses simultaneously.

The microfibre brush tools come in a pack of five random colours and can be used for several weeks before throwing them away. They’re very economical and also small enough to fit into most glasses cases so you can easily carry them around hygienically.

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Storing your Eye Glasses

It is really important to store your eyeglasses in a safe and hygienic place when you’re not using them. This may seem obvious but I’m always amazed the number of people who throw glasses and sunglasses into the car glove compartment or carry them loose in handbags.

All prescription eyeglasses come with a purpose-built case for storage but this isn’t always the case for sunglasses, particularly cheaper sunglasses.

I have a sad history of losing/destroying expensive sunglasses at record-breaking speed and that’s why I now stick firmly to the cheaper variety. I find £10 department store glasses never befall the horrible fates of the Oakleys that I spent £200 on in New York (stolen by an acquaintance) or the gorgeous Chanel glasses that I got as for my 30th birthday (crushed within weeks when I forgot they were in my back jeans pocket and sat on them).

A few years back I treated myself to a really chic pair of pink designer glasses for a trip to Mexico only for them to be washed off my face by a freak wave on the second day of our holiday. Oddly enough I still have the $3 shades that I bought to replace them!

Luckily, as a result of my sad designer losses, I have lots of great designer cases in which to store my cheap sunglasses! I really recommend using a firm zip-up case. This will protect your glasses from scratches and from getting dirty.

You can buy this kind of case from most optometrists but they tend to be cheaper online. I like this neoprene zip-up case from Case Wonder.

Not only does it protect your glasses from scratches and dirt. It also absorbs shock so it is ideal if you are into extreme sports or if you bike to work and want to protect your sunnies when they’re not on your face.

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I hope that this article has given you some useful information and tips for cleaning your glasses, maintaining them and keeping them safe.


Claire has been in the cleaning industry for over 15 years. She's worked numerous jobs including both domestic and industrial cleaning. Her most recent role has been head of product testing for a major cleaning supplier. Following the birth of her second child, Layla, Claire has set up Cleaning Mentor to help people become better at cleaning, saving time and money.

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