Best & Worst Ways to Clean Your Eyeglasses or Sunglasses

There is nothing worse than a distracting smudge stamped right in the middle of your eyeglasses lens. Or when your glasses always feel dirty. And it’s so tempting to grab the closest thing and start rubbing!

But stop. Trust us – you’ll want to put the frames down. Rubbing them with a shirt might get rid of the smudge for the moment, but in the long run, it will actually leave a much more distracting damage, that can’t be erased.

Whether you’re only a beginner who started wearing eyeglasses just recently or have been wearing them your whole life, you may still find yourself wondering about the secrets of keeping clean and immaculate eyeglasses. Stick with this guide and you’ll learn how to properly clean your lenses and frames without any smudges, streaks or scratching!

 

how to clean eyeglasses

 

The recommended steps to clean glasses:

Let’s get to work! Follow these steps for cleaning eyeglasses & sunglasses as well:

  • 1.To start, run your glasses under lukewarm water. Don’t use hot water, as it will decrease the lifespan on some lenses with coating.
steps-to-clean-glasses-with-kitchen-sink-soap
  • 2. Pick a simple kitchen dish soap. Put a small drop of dish soap on your fingertips. Gently rub on both sides of the lenses and the nose pads. If you’re looking for the best way to clean eyeglasses at home, dish soap is your answer. Even the American Optometric Association recommends it.

 

clean eyeglasses dish soap

 

When using the dish soap method, citric-based detergent should not be used as it can damage the lenses. You should also avoid kitchen soap that also has lotion in it. Instead use a very simple, basic kitchen-sink soap.

Another way to use the dish soap method that’s more delicate is to dunk your eyeglasses in a sink full of warm water that has a dollop of dish soap in it. Swish them around, rinse under warm water and everything will look much clearer!

  • 3. Rinse with warm water, and gently dry he remaining water drops with a clean, microfiber cloth. Use light touches. The microfiber cloth leaves no fluff, so your glasses should be perfectly clean.
  • 4. Inspect the frames & repeat steps until your lenses are completely spotless. If there are still smudges and all oil that wasn’t cleaned by the dish soap, it’s time to repeat the steps. Put them under lukewarm water, add dishsoap and gently massage them once again!
  • Tortoise shell eyeglasses Vint & York

    Jordan Eyeglasses in Tortoise Shell – Get Yours here!

  • 5. For small smudges on the glasses during the day, keep a microfiber cloth handy for dry touch-ups. Swipe only from arms to nosepiece. To remove oil and grease from eyeglasses you have to swipe in the correct direction. Always start your eyeglasses swipe at the arms of the glasses (temple) and come towards the nosepieces. The eyeglass frame’s central brim and nose bridge (and nose pads, if any) should be kept for your LAST swipe.
  • how to clean eyeglasses - swipe direction

    Fitzgerald Eyeglasses

  • This is because much of the grease and oil that’s on your face will build up on the bridge of the frame and on the nose pieces. These parts have “skin contact residue” that tends to remain on the cloth.If you start your swipe from the nose, you will smear all that oil and grease across the lenses, which will give you more cleaning work to take care of.
  • 6. Every so often, use jewelry polish safely on frames to refresh their look.

Only do this step once in a blue moon and it will result you in beautiful, clean and pristine looking glasses. If you polish plastic eyeglasses too often they will eventually damage them. If the glasses have a special finish, don’t polish them too often as it can damage their special finish.

  • 7. Keep them cleaner for longer : don’t leave the frames on a sink or vanity.
  • Leaving spectacles on a sink or vanity, where hairspray and perfume or powder can fly through the air, adds quickly to the residue. Avoiding this will keep your frames cleaner for longer time.
  • steps-to-keep-glasses-cleaner-for-longer-time

 

The dish soap method is one of the best and safest ways to clean glasses. Dish soap works well for both metal and plastic acetate frames, but not on wood frames. Scroll below to find out what you can use on more special frames, like wood or vintage ones.

 

How to clean glasses with anti reflective coating or other special coatings?

Do your eyeglasses come with anti-reflective coating? Then this form of protective coating should never come into contact with ammonia, bleach, vinegar or window cleaner, that can break down the coating and strip them of the coating qualities.

swanky-tortoise-shell-round-acetate-eyeglasses

Vint and York Swanky Tortoise Shell Eyeglasses – Get yours here!

With these types of glasses, you may find yourself cleaning them more often.  It’s somewhat of a trade-off for the clarity of the lenses, yet it’s completely normal.

semi rimless clubmaster sunglasses

The Fitzgerald Sunglasses – Get yours here

Since all the Vint & York eyeglasses come with Anti-Reflective Coating, Anti-Scratch Coating, and UV Coating, we perfected the process of cleaning coated lenses.

Love vintage eyewear?

What are the best & worst products to clean eyeglasses lenses?

It’s common for dust and grease to build up on your eyeglasses, and learning the safest ways to clean eyeglasses keeps your frames and lenses in top shape.

Let’s gather some common eyeglass cleaning supplies and test their efficiency! So let’s see: What is the best solution to clean eyeglasses, besides dish soap, which is the most recommended product?

 

1. Alcohol

Many of those who look for how to make homemade eyeglasses cleaner turn to alcohol solutions. It’s natural, most eyeglasses cleaner solutions are made with alcohol.  You may have been wondering, “does alcohol clean eyeglasses?”, or “is it safe to clean eyeglasses with alcohol”? and we’re going to answer that for you.

clean eyeglasses with alcohol

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Now, we’re not talking about learning how to clean eyeglasses with vodka, but rather, it’s all about combining two common household ingredients in order to reap the benefits of a homemade cleaner.

So, grab yourself a spray bottle of any size and use the following recipe:

  1. Fill your spray the bottle with ¾ full of rubbing alcohol.
    Add two small drops of mild liquid dish soap, and fill the rest of the bottle with water.
    Gently shake the mixture, being sure to not create any bubbles.
    Now, just spray both sides of your lenses and gently rub them clean with a soft cotton cloth.

Rating: 3 stars!

 

2. Cleaning Tissues

An excellent recommendation to keep your eyeglasses clean throughout the day is to carry individually-packaged lens wipes.

Although the wipes are damp in the packets, they tend to dry fairly quickly, so don’t waste any time and swipe the wet layer outwards on your lenses on both sides, and then on the nose bridge and nose pads.

clean eyeglasses with tissues

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Once the wipe is dry, it becomes a cloth. Gently swipe it outwards on your lens to remove any residue. Just be sure to always wipe the nose bridge and nose pads last, as this is where most of the build up occurs and swiping them before the lens will smear the residue all over the lenses.

Remember the best direction to swipe: the frame’s central brim and nose bridge/nose pad should be kept for your LAST swipe, so you don’t spread the oils to the rest of the frame.

Cleaning tissues are one of the best spectacle cleaner.

Rating: 4 stars!

 

3. Vinegar, Window Cleaner, and Toothpaste

Many people think that they can clean eyeglasses with vinegar as it is an excellent cleaning agent for many things within the household, and also has a good reputation for being nontoxic. However, it can be very damaging to your lenses.

Also, you can’t clean your glasses with Windex, Lysol or any type of window cleaner, ammonia or other stronger chemical cleaning supplies on the lenses.  If you have any kind of anti-reflective coating, it will start to break it down and eventually destroy it.

never clean eyeglasses with vinegar bleach ammonia toothpaste window cleaner

Jordan Eyeglasses in Brown – Get Yours Here!

Also, lemon juice should never be used to clean your eyeglasses either, as the acids can strip away the coatings on your eyeglasses.

The same can be said for those looking to clean glasses with toothpaste. While some sources say that you can remove scratches from eyeglasses with toothpaste, it still isn’t a recommended solution. These ingredients can’t function as an anti-scratch spray for glasses. So resort back to the dish soap method when in need of a home remedy.

If you’re looking for a more frugal version, try dish washer soap and water, but never vinegar.

Rating: NEVER!

 

4. Your shirt, or without any liquid

We’ve all done it. The biggest crime in lens care: exhaling onto the lenses, then wiping the fog off with the shirt sleeves.

Wiping glasses with shirt

You probably even know that’s the wrong way to clean glasses, but you do it anyway. When a massive smudge is interrupting your view, it’s simply too tempting to do so.

Picking your shirt or the nearest tissue, paper towel or napkin, and going in for a quick fix after you breathe on them. But doing so will cause significant damage to your lenses because your shirt contains dust and other particles that can easily scratch your glasses.

Your breath or spit are also tempting quick fixes for dirty lenses, but they’re ineffective and certainly not hygienic.

NEVER clean your glasses without using liquid, even with a microfiber cloth. Particles of dust with be depressed into the glass from the cloth and as you move will scratch your lenses. So always use some sort of liquid, whether it is mild soap and water, or store purchased cleaner.

Now, if you’re looking to keep your glasses clean throughout the day, try to get into the habit of washing them each morning – frames, lenses, and earpieces. This will also help you steer clear of those damaging yet tempting quick cleaning fixes mention previously.

Rating: NEVER!

 

5. Microfiber Cloths

As you already learned from this guide, when learning how to safely clean eyeglasses without streaks and scratching, you should never clean your eyeglasses without liquid.

And liquid calls for a microfiber cloth almost all the times.

Now,  microfiber cloth is ideal and actually considered to be the best thing to clean eyeglasses because they’re typically made with a combination of nylon and polyester, which almost guarantees not to cause scratching.

microfiber

They’re so effective that they aren’t only the best fabric to clean eyeglasses, but are also considered to be the best material to clean anything that is prone to scratches.

However, dust and debris can still get caught in the fabric, so it is vital to keep them clean, and when you use them on your glasses, do it so very gently. To keep them clean, just hand wash eyeglasses clothes every week or so and hang to dry.

Special microfiber cloths are good for dry touch-ups during the day but aren’t a stand-in for a thorough, soapy cleaning. Neither is your breath.

Do not use a cloth to buff a dry lens – you will eventually scratch. Make it easy for yourself and keep cleaner and cloths at home, in the car and at work if possible.

Never use kleenex/paper towel/toilet paper. They’re a paper based (and thus usually a wood-pulp based) product. Use cotton-based materials only.

 

6.  Deep Clean Machine

Do you feel like your glasses have been through a lot and need a deep clean?
You can invest in an eyeglass cleaning machine for some periodic deep cleaning. This maintenance step is crucial to keep your eyeglasses longevity and clarity.

With a machine to clean your eyeglasses costing as little as $20, you really don’t want to skip over this step. With any cleaning machines, always use clean lukewarm water even if the directions call for hot water. The high temperature can actually warp your frames and lens coating. Additionally, tap water can be used, but filtered water is recommended.

Then, follow the other instructions provided with the machine and in 10 minutes, your eyeglass deep cleaning will be complete. You may also want to have your optician remove your lenses so that the edges and frame groves can be cleaned thoroughly.

Rating: 5 stars!

 

Steps to clean small, inaccessible parts of glasses

Over time, your glasses may experience a buildup of oil and dirt, which can sometimes cause a film on your eyeglasses, and while cleaning the small and inaccessible parts of the glasses may seem like a tedious taste at first, it is actually fairly simple.

clean eyeglasses

Jordan eyeglasses

  • 1. Use a soft bristle toothbrush
  • When learning how to clean these small parts, including the nose pads of glasses, just grab a soft-bristled toothbrush and lightly brush them. Make sure to never brush the lenses as it may cause scratches.
clean nose pads with bristled toothbrush

Maintenance is also a crucial component of promoting longevity of your eyeglasses that should not be skipped over.

  • 2. Remove screws for metal frames

If you have metal-rimmed eyeglasses, you can remove the screws, tab them with Loctite (can be found in hardware or auto stores) and then put the screw back in. Doing so will keep your frames tighter.
As for those nose pads, they are replaceable if need be.

 

How to clean special frames?

When learning how to clean these parts properly, it’s crucial that you first consider what your frames are made of. Plastic and metal are the most common frames, but we also go over vintage and hipster frames in this guide.

Once you determined the material used in your frames, you can proceed with the following cleaning methods. However, if you’re still unsure of the material used, a soft cloth and warm water should be okay to clean your frames with!

nerd men's eyewear 2016

Jordan eyeglasses

1. Plastic Acetate Frames

Most modern frames are made of high-quality celluloid acetate in gloss or matte finish like Vint&York’s are. Of the 69 million Americans who bought prescription spectacles last year, most purchased plastic lenses; glass has gone out of fashion as safety concerns have arisen.

plastic acetate clear eyeglasses

Hester Clear Eyeglasses – Get Yours Here!

  • 1. Cleaning plastic eyeglasses lenses is fairly easy. You may have standard plastic lenses, which tend to be more scratch resistant than polycarbonate lenses, as it’s a harder material. Unlike that hard surface, plastic is soft and can scratch easily. Once lenses are scraped up, there is no way to buff that scratch out.
  • 2. You can also clean haze off plastic eyeglasses lenses fairly easily. First, the trick to keeping that film from occurring is to prevent it from setting in, and you can do so with regular washing. Use a mild hand or dish soap and lightly brush the frames with a soft toothbrush, being sure to not rub on the actual lenses.

Now, if you are looking to find out how do you clean tortoise shell glasses especially, be sure to never use anything with ammonia or acid as these substances can actually destroy that beloved vintage pattern.

 

2. Metal frames

Metal eyeglasses frames are highly popular as well since they are light and can have a unique, beautiful antiqued finish.

metal round eyeglasses

Mojo Metal Eyeglasses – Get Yours Here!

Grimy, slippery and dirty metal frames can be really annoying to wear, and cleaning them is actually really easy. You can use a jewelry polish or allow your frames to sit in lukewarm water with dish soap overnight. Doing so will break down the buildup of oil and grease better than other cleaning methods.

Then in the morning, just rinse them with warm water and dry them with a clean, soft cloth.

 

3. Wood frames

Wood is somewhat harder to maintain and can be easily damaged if not stored properly. If you are not wearing them, keep them in a hard case or safe place.

how to clean wood-glasses-frames

Hell-K glasses

wooden eyeglasses vint and york

Big Cheese Wooden Eyeglasses – Get Yours Here!

Just like you would care for a nice piece of wood furniture, do the same with your wood glasses and apply a coat of oil or wax to bring the luster back.

If you’re just after the wooden look and don’t want to overcomplicate your life with maintaining wooden glasses, try the “faux” wooden eyeglasses – they have the exact same look of wood, but come in acetate.

vintage eyewear men
Get vintage wooden frames by V&Y

4. Vintage Frames

Since real vintage frames are supposed to be older, you want to spot any imperfections or damage, as this can change the steps on how to clean them.

cat eye eyeglasses in tortoise shell

Mulberry Cat Eye Eyeglasses – Get yours here!

That’s also not to mention that some vintage fashion glasses have special details that need extra attention, just like little pieces of jewelry. Typically, jewelry polish or lukewarm water with mild dish soap can be used safely on them. However, if you polish plastic eyeglasses too often they will eventually damage them.

If you’re looking for the vintage look but don’t want to risk buying real vintage glasses that might need refurbishing, check out this selection of vintage-inspired eyeglasses.

Cat Eye vintage eyeglasses

Mulberry Vintage Cat Eye Eyeglasses – Get yours here!

5. Hipster Glasses

If you’re trying to figure out how to clean hipster glasses, the only thing you should keep in mind is to not polish them too often as it can damage the special finish.

Vint and York Stellar

Stellar Hipster Eyeglasses – Get yours here!

Generally, lukewarm water and mild dish soap can also be used to clean these frames, whether they’re made of wood grains or have an antique finish or anything in between.

Everything you just learned can be applied to learning how to clean nonprescription glasses.

hipster eyeglasses men

How to keep eyeglasses cleaner for a longer time

Many eyeglass-wearers wonder how to keep the lenses clean, or how to stop glasses from smudging. You’ll be happy to know that maintaining the eyewear clean for longer periods of time is super easy with some little tips and tricks.

Here are the steps to keep glasses clean for longer periods of time:

  • 1. For starters, it can be as simple as never resting your glasses on the sink or any surface where you use hair products and cosmetics. This is because the buildup can be transferred onto your glasses.
  • 2. When looking to keep eyeglasses clean longer, you also want to be sure to never put your glasses down on their lenses.
  • 3. Try to always place them back in their case when you aren’t using them, or at the very least, place them on their frames instead of lenses as this will protect your glasses from smudges and scratches.
  • 4. Persistent smearing in the center of your lenses? It might be your lashes or mascara.
    Now, you may experience persistent smudging happening in the center of your lenses, despite your incredible efforts to keep them clean. This is a common problem for many women. Or men with long, thick eyelashes.
  • tortoise shell square frames

If you have naturally long lashes, nose pads or a thin adhesive pad under the nose bridge can help deter the smudging from happening. This will avoid lashes and their natural oils to touch the lenses.

However, if the smudging occurs from your makeup, try curling your eyelashes at the base and the ends once you have applied mascara. It will change the angle so your lashes aren’t brushing up against your lenses.

 

Stray Observations 

  • Dish Soap, warm water, and a dry cloth are the eyeglasses cleaning supplies you need, once a day, to keep glasses optimally clean and functional.
  • Natural oils from your hands, eyelashes and face can lead to a lot of buildups each day, reducing lenses’ effectiveness.
  • Leaving spectacles on a sink or vanity, where hairspray and perfume can fly through the air, adds to the residue.

 

nerd thick glasses for men

Dapper eyeglasses in tortoiseshell

 

Voila! Everything looks brighter and clearer now!

Your eyeglasses are an investment, so making them last longer with proper care should be one of your top priority. 

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12 Comments

Colin Holgate

You may laugh at this, but just today I tried something I’ve been wondering about: use my dishwasher. That is, put my cheap reading glasses in with the silverware. It worked extremely well, they are a clear and clean as new.

Ann Maree Resides Here

Heat can cause significant damage, to anything that is plastic. There is a REAL RISK of warping, whether it be the plastic lenses or plastic frames. To be on the safe side, I’d never put mine in the dishwasher… too much risk, for such a big investment, and my vision needs.

CallousOneToo

Still can’t a straight answer as to whether or not isopropyl alcohol based cleaners harm the reflective coatings.

Ann Maree Resides Here

I really LIKE the 75% rubbing alcohol and a drop of dish soap idea, and remainder with water (warm is best). That really sounds ideal, since I know how clean housekeepers leave glass showers, routinely. They use final solution with alcohol in it.

joe sterling

For step #2 don’t forget to wet the dish soap on your fingers and then rub it on both sides of the lenses.

Katie Maginity

What percentage of the rubbing alcohol can be used? Like I have 91% and 50% rubbing alcohol which one should I use?

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