How to Clean Glasses the Right Way (and What to Avoid)

Peering at your computer, you notice a smudge of dirt in your field of vision. Frowning, you reach out to try and wipe it off your screen only to realize the smudge is actually on your eyeglass lenses. Oops, guess whose glasses are in need of cleaning?

Cleaning your glasses isn’t just necessary to ensure clear, crisp vision for your everyday tasks. It’s also essential to keep away the germs and minimize the risk of eye-related conditions like conjunctivitis (pink eye). Plus, you’re less likely to experience acne breakouts with dirt-free glasses (#win).

But do you know how to clean glasses properly? Should you wash them every day or every other day? Is it better to use dish soap or a lens cleaner? Does the temperature of the water matter when rinsing your glasses?

Clearly, there are many questions surrounding the simple act of eyeglass cleaning. Ahead, we’ll share how to clean your glasses the right way, as well as the do’s and don’ts to keep your eyewear in tip-top condition for as long as possible.

How to Clean Glasses: Follow These 5 Simple Steps

How to clean glasses: Pair Eyewear’s cleaning kit

Ready to learn how to clean your glasses? Follow these five simple steps to keep the dust, grime, and smears away.

1. Wash and Dry Your Hands

Did you know that your hands are home to about 100,000 to a few million germs at any point in time? In other words, you don’t want these harmful microorganisms on your eyewear.

As such, the first step for how to clean glasses properly is to start with a clean slate by washing your hands:

  • Use lotion-free soap or dishwashing liquid to prevent smears from forming on your glasses later.

  • Lightly scrub the pads of your fingers and palms, and don’t forget the backs of your hands.

  • Rinse off the suds with clean water.

  • Dry your hands with a lint-free towel — this prevents teeny pieces of lint from sticking to your glasses.

2. Rinse Your Glasses With Tap Water

Once your hands are squeaky-clean, take off your glasses and rinse them with tap water. Here’s a tip: Hold your glasses so that the gentle stream of water hits the lenses. This will help to wash away any dust or dirt sticking to your spectacles without scratch-inducing friction.

3. Use a Small Drop of Lotion-free Dishwashing Liquid

Less is more when it comes to soaping up your glasses. Carefully place a tiny drop of lotion-free dishwashing liquid on each lens. Spread the soap over other parts of the frames. Pay special attention to the nose pads and the temples, which are usually oilier since they’re in close contact with the skin and its sebum (natural oils).

Alternatively, you can use an eyeglass cleaning solution, which typically comes in a spray or a wipe. Check that the lens cleaner can be used on lenses with an anti-reflective coating. For spray-based lens cleaners, spritz on a microfiber cleaning cloth and gently rub the solution over both sides of the lenses. For the wipes, use one to wipe down each lens.

The good thing about eyeglass cleaners is that they’re convenient and fuss-free as they don’t need a rinse with water (check the instruction label to double-confirm). This makes them ideal for travel, especially if you’re headed somewhere without easy access to clean water.

4. Rinse Your Glasses Once More

If you’re using soap to clean your glasses, run them through tap water again to wash away all the suds. This will prevent unsightly smears from forming on the lenses and frame when you dry them.

5. Dry Your Glasses

When drying your glasses, use lint-free materials like a microfiber cloth. This type of cloth is highly absorbent as research shows it absorbs “over seven times their weight in water” and “dry in one-third of the time of ordinary fibers” like cotton. Microfiber also doesn’t leave behind small, pesky fibers like lint on your eyeglass lenses. Most importantly, it’s scientifically proven to wipe off fingerprint marks and sebum without scratching the lens surface. Pair Eyewear’s Cleaning Cloths are made of rPET, a more eco-friendly type of microfiber.

How to Clean Your Glasses: 6 Do’s and Don’ts

Man cleaning his glasses using his polo

Now that you know how to clean your glasses the right way, keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind.

Do: Use Lukewarm Water

The best water temperature for cleaning glasses is lukewarm water (warm water is acceptable, too). Hot water is quite damaging to the lenses, especially those with a specialized lens coating.

It’s also wise to avoid hard water because it has a higher concentration of minerals like calcium and magnesium. Over time, using hard water to clean your glasses may lead to ultra-fine scratches that interfere with your vision. What’s more, hard water often leaves behind a white residue, which means that the cleaning rag you use to dry your glasses may sport chalky stains in time.

If you live in an area with hard water, use distilled water to clean your glasses instead. For a more economical option, install a water softener or a hard water filter on your faucet.

Don’t: Use Harsh Substances

If there’s one takeaway to keep in mind for how to clean your glasses properly, it’s to avoid using harsh substances for lens-cleaning, especially if they aren’t diluted with water. Some of these include:

  • Disinfectant wipes

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Nail polish remover

  • Household glass cleaners like window cleaners

  • Saliva

In particular, substances like nail polish remover contain acetone that erodes the lenses and damages the frame.

Do: Clean Your Microfiber Cloth Regularly

Due to their small fiber size, microfiber cloths trap dust, dirt, and oils efficiently. This also means they get dirty very quickly. Remember to wash the cloth regularly to ensure the grime isn’t transferred to your glasses.

For a clean microfiber cloth, wash it by hand with lotion-free soap and dry it by air. Avoid using fabric softeners, bleach, laundry detergent, and dryer sheets, as these substances can leave a visible residue on the lenses when you clean your glasses with the cloth.

Don’t: Use Anything Other Than a Microfiber Towel for the Lenses

You may be tempted to use a napkin, the bottom of your T-shirt, or your shirttail to clean your eyeglasses. Unfortunately, paper products like tissues, toilet paper, napkins, and paper towels have a rough surface that can scratch the lenses. The same goes for common clothing materials like cotton and polyester.

Do: Keep Your Glasses in a Clean Case

After all the hard work you’ve put into cleaning your glasses lenses, it only makes sense to keep your eyewear in a clean case or pouch when you’re not using it. This good habit also helps protect your spectacles from scratches (see next section). Give your glasses case a good cleaning from time to time as they’re also prime real estate for bacteria growth.

Use a wet wipe or cloth to clean the outer surface of the case and dry it with a clean rag. Depending on what material is used inside the case, you can either use a wet wipe (if it’s a waterproof material like plastic) or a brush (if it’s not waterproof like suede).

Don’t: Buff Away the Scratches

Perhaps you’ve put your best into maintaining clean eyeglasses but accidentally scratched one of the lenses. Don’t worry, that happens to many of us, although we have to admit there’s nothing you can do for your damaged pair.

Instead of trying to buff away the scratches (which won’t work — sorry to burst your bubble!), visit your optician instead. They’ll likely replace the defective lenses with new ones. To extend the longevity of your new pair, choose scratch-resistant glasses, like the ones at Pair Eyewear.

Keep Your Eyewear Clean

Man cleaning his glasses using Pair Eyewear's cleaning cloth

Learning how to clean glasses doesn’t need to be a chore as long as you follow the steps above and keep in mind the various do’s and don’ts. Clean eyeglasses not only maintain crystal-clear vision through dirt-free lenses, but they also help maintain optimal eye health.

If you’re looking for a new pair, our eyeglasses start from only $60 and come in various designs — think Classic Colors and artsy prints like our Van Gogh Collection. The bottom line is, there’s a Pair for everyone.