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How to clean eyeglasses

Picture of Ludwik dishwashing liquidI’ve worn eyeglasses since I was 3 years old. A few years ago, I started getting annoyed with the dust and grease that keep building up on my glasses. Maybe it’s old-age grumpiness kicking in, or maybe it’s because I started to use LCD displays whose immaculate picture quality sensitized me to any blurriness between the LCD matrix and my retina.

Anyway, I started cleaning my glasses regularly. The problem was that I couldn’t figure out a good cleaning technique. First, I tried washing my glasses with running water and then drying them up with towels. That didn’t work so well for the grease and the towels (either cloth or paper) would leave tons of lint on my glasses. So I bought a professional microfiber cloth, the same kind that I use for cleaning photographic lenses, and some isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol), the stuff that they put in those overpriced “lens cleaning kits” you’ll find in the photography section of your electronics store. That was a lot better than my previous technique, but the alcohol would not clean off all the grease, which was impossible to remove completely with the cloth.

Well, I’ve finally figured it out. (Actually, I wish I had. I learned about this technique from my optician.) The answer is dishwashing liquid (AKA dish soap).

  1. Rinse your glasses under running water.
  2. Put a bit of dishwashing liquid on one of the lenses, then use your fingers to gently rub the liquid on both sides of both lenses.
  3. Rinse glasses again to remove the dish soap. You don’t need to use your fingers to get the dish soap off – just use running water. You should be looking at perfectly clean lenses with a few drops of water on them. If there’s any grease or other spots, repeat steps 2 and 3.
  4. Use a microfiber cloth to gently clean off remaining water drops. Use light touches – there might be small pieces of dirt on the cloth and if you rub it too hard, they might scratch the lenses. The microfiber cloth leaves no fluff, so your glasses should be perfectly clean.

It’s really a perfect combination. The dish soap dissolves all the grease, so you don’t get any smudges when you use the microfiber cloth. The microfiber cloth removes the remaining water drops and (non-greasy) stains made by evaporating water, and leaves no lint. The result: pristine-looking glasses in one minute.

What’s more, this technique is fairly convenient to use. Many online how-tos recommend special eyeglass-cleaning sprays or vinegar, which may be expensive or unavailable. On the other hand, most people have dish soap in their kitchen, so the only special accessory you need is a microfiber cloth, which costs $7 (for a top-quality one) and can be re-used for years. And even that isn’t really necessary, as paper towels or tissues work almost as well.

54 Comments so far

  • Dan Vinh

    I completely agree with your method of cleaning glasses using dishwasher liquid. I have been using it for the past 2 years. In the past, I used ordinary soap and ruined several pairs of glasses. I later discovered that ordinary soap (or many other kinds of soap) contains “emollients” to make your skin soft. The emollients destroy a fine stratum of chemicals that many modern glass manufacturers incorporate in the manufacturing process. The polarized glasses and night-driving glasses with anti-reverberating properties are particularly vulnerable.
    More power to you!

  • Emmanuel Ocean

    Costco has a relatively cheap ($6) cleaning kit which comes with two microfiber cloths, 2.5 bottles* of cleaning fluid with unlimited refills, and a repair kit. That stuff works really well on the go, although I do use the dish soap method too!
    *2 small bottles and one mini/travel bottle.

  • john

    I use this same method to clean CDS/DVDs. Run lukewarm water and use a few drops of dish soap and a clean finger tip to wash them under water flow. Shake dry…then dry completely with a microfiber cloth…paper towels scratch.

    For eyeglasses…the microfiber cloths need to be regularly degreased…I just put them in a bowl and wash by hand…otherwise they pick up lint in a washer.

  • tory

    Microfiber cloths are alittle more expensive than regular rags, but its amazing how soft they are and dont scratch my glasses. Thank you so much for the article.

  • Dayle

    I use a plastic pump spray bottle with a weak detergent / water mix and use a old fat blush brush to wash. Spray directly on your glasses and nose pads a couple of times and use the brush to clean all sides. Rinse all with warm warm water. Blot your warm glasses dry with one sheet of toilet paper and you are done real quick. I always do this at the bathroom sink so toilet paper is always close by. No scratches either.

  • ARNY

    I use Johnson & Johnson’s baby hair shampoo instead – works really well, and is safe for plastic lenses. Use warm water to rinse.

  • Torsten

    Hmmm, agree – have been cleaning my glasses for the last 20 years using fairy.

    The only point where I strongly disagree is using papertowels to dry your glasses: paper is very hard and rough – so if you wear plastic glasses the paper will scratch these.

    I like the idea with the micro fiber but so far I have simply blown the water drops away or used the hand dryer.

  • Trudi - Optician

    Definately use the microfiber cloths and keep them in a case when not wearing them.

  • Squeaky Clean Window Cleaning

    Dawn Ultra to be more specific for Dish Soap and Glass. Thats what I use to wash windows. For my Glasses I use Lens Crafters products.

  • Dante

    Hmm never thought about using dish soap to clean my glasses. Always used the the micro fiber that came with my glasses.

  • Sami

    I only use clean t-shirts. They must be wash-machine clean. Depending on fabric they work perfect. If very dirty I may pour some water first, then use one part of t-shirt gently to remove all the dirt. It’s important that there’s no hard dirt like minuscule stones. Then other part of t-shirt to clean the grease. I may rub quite powerfully which is not a good thing to do, but I’ve weared the same plastic lenses 10 years, and they are still perfectly fine. I do this every 2nd day, so I must have done it 1500+ times.

  • Kala

    Don’t ever use tissues or paper towels on your glasses. They are a wood product and will likely scratch your lenses.

  • David

    BEST METHOD EVER!! I found the best method ever for cleaning eyeglasses WITHOUT scratching the lenses. I have tried many other techniques described on the Internet and have always ended up with scratches on the lenses. Anytime you use a cloth of any type you run the risk of damaging the lenses. I bought a can of compressed air from Office Depot that is sold as “cleaning duster”. I blow the lenses off with compressed air before I wet them to remove as much loose dust as possible. I wash my hands with dishwashing soap to be sure they aren’t the source of dirt. Then I wet the lenses and put some soap on my hands and gently rub both sides of the lenses at the same time. Next I rinse the lenses with fresh water and the blow the lenses dry with compressed air. This reduces the number of times the lenses are touched and greatly reduces the opportunity for scratching. I have had my lenses for over 3 months and do not have a single scratch on them.

    • Pearl

      This does in fact sound like the “BEST METHOD EVER!!”
      The compressed air idea sounds over the top but genius never the less. Time for a visit to Office Depot. ; )

    • Edward

      This works excellent. I tried with a big industrial fan to dry them up. Dust and grease? Totally gone, same as my glasses.

  • linda

    my husband left in glasses in a bowl of dish det over night and they are a MESS —what can he do?

    • Sadie

      no worries ask your doctor there sure will be a way to fix them or you can try to wash them with warm water first and then copy the rest of the method above!!

  • sadie

    amazing tried it and loved it this is a great method of cleaning your glasses try it and you will love it!!!!!!! AHHHHH I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW WELL IT WORKS BRILLIANT

  • Tibi

    not long ago I have been to an eye consult and I was told I need to wear glasses. I have astigmatism and am working quite a lot at the computer the doctor gave my lenses an anti-reflex coating which I was told it is damaged by detergents. So my question still is: “how do I remove grease smears from my glasses without damaging them in any way?”, something besides using those “overpriced lens cleaning kits”.

    • Amir

      I have the same question..
      You’re doctor is right fairy dish soap ruined my eyeglasses anti reflex coating. It took a couple of years to damage the coating, but still..

  • James McKnight

    Been doing just that for decades now, I sort of “learned” the trick from the optometrist when he strongly warned me against doing just that insisting instead I purchase the grossly overpriced cleaning solution from him. That made me suspicious that he was in fact worried I would find out that the cheapest method was the one that actually worked best and that I would spread the word… which I did. I use an antiquated shaving brush to apply the dish soap but finger works good too.

  • ybin

    I was just wondering if there is any particular motion one must use when wiping the lens with cloth. Do you use a left to right motion, up and down, or a circular motion? Does it matter at all?

    • Tomasz

      After you clean the lenses with dish soap and rinse it off, all that should be left on the lens are a couple drops of water. A few light touches with a microfiber cloth should get these right off.

      I would advise against rubbing the cloth too hard on the lens. If there is any dirt on the cloth (like a grain of sand), you can scratch the lens.

  • couchcash

    This works great. I washed mine with dishwashing liquid and rinsed with the sprayer with warm water, then dried them with the hair dryer. Finally if there are any little smudges left a microfibre cloth does the trick.

  • Chase Wolfey Gray

    thank you so much, this worked absolutely perfectly, it’s like i got brand new glasses lol

  • Matt

    Thank you! I got glasses for the first time recently at the age of 24 and the greasy marks has been annoying me so much! Just done your method in a minute and they’re back to new again!

  • Belinda

    This also works great on windows an mirrors too!

  • deidre

    I’ll try thIs when I get home. It makes sense, because the suds in dish soap is the best way to get the grease off of frying pans.

  • Helena

    I heard that tissues wil scratch the lens so you should use the cloth that came in the glasses case.

  • Mellisa

    Thank you for the wonderful and useful tips that you shared 🙂

  • Roger

    I completely agree with everything in the cleaning tips; however, like others have already commented…I would never us any paper product to clean your glasses as they contain wood pulp and will definitely scratch the surface of the lens.

  • Raffael

    I use the dish soap method with a warm water rise with a pat dry technique and this method is ideal. When I am on the road, I use Zeiss non ammonia glass cleaner. Zeiss cleaner with a micro fiber cloth is by far the second best solution for cleaning glasses!

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