One of the questions I get asked a lot as an optician is “why are there so many scratches on my lenses? I clean my glasses with that cloth they gave me?”

There are so many places to start with how to clean your glasses properly, but I’m going to start first with the verbiage I always say to my patients as I am doing a final cleaning of their lenses when I dispense them.

You want to spray your lenses with an eyeglass cleaner approved for all lens types. Wipe them in a back and forth motion, not a circular motion, with the cloth. If the cloth get’s dirty, wash it with a mild soap like Ivory. Never use anti bacterial soap or fabric softener on anything that touches your lenses.

Sounds simple enough, right? Let me break it down a little more for you. Even though we still refer to glasses as….well….glasses, they are, indeed, almost never made from actual glass anymore. Because of this, you want to avoid anything you would normally use to clean actual glass ON your lenses. Avoid Windex or any ammonia product for that matter. Fun Fact……we do not sell anti reflective coating to pig farmers because the ammonia from the pigs will ruin the lenses quickly. Pig farmers automatically need two pairs of glasses. One pair for their day to day work and one for when they are going to be away from the farm.

Ok, back to proper cleaning. Most lenses today have an anti reflective coating on them (we refer to it as AR coating). If it is a premium AR coating, then it will also have an extra durable scratch resistant coating built into the property of it. If it is a cheaper, older style, AR coating, then the scratch resistant coating is placed on the lenses and then the AR coating is applied. As you can imagine, the latter is much easier to scratch in general. Following the tips I am mentioning in this blog will help extend the life of all lenses.

Much of what gets on lenses today is dust as well as oil from your skin. Just like you would not wash an oily pan with just water, you wouldn’t want to clean your lenses without some type of cleaner. Running them under water without anything else will just smear the oil around.

You do not need to have eyeglass cleaner though. You can wash them at your kitchen or bathroom sink with a mild soap and water, then dry them with a clean, 100% cotton or microfiber cloth.

Can’t I use the cloth by itself? Do I need to use a spray?

You can, on occasion, use a light touch and use the cloth to get some dust particles off if you need to, but truthfully, you should try to always have a bottle of spray cleaner with you and a clean cloth or some disposable lens wipes.

Another way to look at it is, if your car’s finish had mud on it, would you take a dry cloth and wipe the mud off or would you go through a car wash and let the soap and water remove it? If you’re wearing lenses to give you the best vision possible, they will have a superior “finish” to them and you want to take care of it.

Why do my lenses always smear or look dirty after I clean them?

Another question I ask my patients when they talk about their lenses always looking dirty after they clean them is; “How often are you washing your cloth?” I usually get blank stares and they respond, I did not know I was supposed to wash them. The cloths get dirty just like everything else. To wash them, you can do one of the following:

  1. Hand wash the cloth with a mild soap. Just make sure it does not have an anti bacterial property to it. If it is a small cloth, I put the soap on my hand, run some water, put the cloth between my hands and act like I am washing my hands. I’ll do this for about 30 – 60 seconds, making sure to get the entire cloth clean. Rinse it well, then lay it over something to air dry.
  2. Throw it in with your towels. OK…another fun fact…..you should NEVER use fabric softener on towels. Towels are made up of tiny loops of cotton. When you use fabric softener (or dryer sheets, same thing) then you are coating the cotton loops, decreasing the absorbency of the towels by 30%. Wash your towels on hot water, cold water rinse, then dry in the dryer. After about three washes, the fabric softener you used to use will be gone and the towels will absorb more water! I usually throw my lens cleaning cloths in a lingerie bag so they don’t get lost and toss them in with my towels. You can dry them but they dry quicker than the actual towels so you have to pull them out earlier. To save having it remember this step, I usually just take them out and dry them on my sweater drying rack.

Can I use those disposable lens wipes?

Simple answer, YES, you can. More detailed answer, it all depends on which ones and how are you using them. The biggest mistake people make with the disposable lens wipes is over wiping. They contain some alcohol so you want to open them and wipe your glasses in a back and forth motion with them. STOP before the cloth is dry! There should be enough liquid on the cloth for you to clean one more thing, such as your steering wheel, your dash, your cell phone screen, anything really, just don’t wipe your lenses until the cloth is dry. If you do, you are just scratching up your lenses.

Some disposable lens wipes are better than others. I know I have the Zeiss wipes in my picture and you can use those. The key is, when you open the package, the cloth should have quite a bit of moisture in it. If it is dry, throw it away and grab another one. If multiple ones are dry when you open it, stop using the brand you have and go get a different kind.

Why shouldn’t I use anti bacterial soap or fabric softener?

Because I said so! Ok, Ok, the better answer is because they have properties in them which may ruin your lenses depending on what you have on them. They can eat at your scratch resistant coatings / anti reflective coatings. Similar to how I talked about why you should not use shaving cream when your glasses fog up. You can read that blog here.

Overall, the thing to remember is eyeglasses are an investment. If you purchase the right features to give you the best optics and the healthiest eyes, then you will have to take care of them properly. It isn’t as difficult as it sounds if you have the right tools. Your glasses can look as sparkling clear after you clean them as then do when you optician cleans them!

If you have any additional questions about how to properly clean your eyeglass lenses, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me here or on Facebook.

See the world as it was meant to be seen! 🤓

If you liked this article and want to read more, please follow me on Facebook @PaulaTheOptician or subscribe to this blog.  You can find my other writing, not related to eye care or optical on my site:  HaliPawz  Where I enjoy writing reviews, ADA adventures with my mom, as well as just some humorous things that happen to me.

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