Cleaning

The Best Way to Clean Your Eyeglasses Is Also the Simplest

Because my lenses are always smudged.

July 24, 2019
Photo by James Ransom

Once, a very long time ago, I bought lens wipes. The smallest available size for order was a two-pack, containing hundreds and hundreds of individually wrapped wipes. For months after they arrived, I'd diligently restock my glasses cases, pocketbook, and gym bag every couple of days.

For a time, they were my superpower. My glasses lenses, formerly as foggy as a San Francisco spring, became clear as the day I'd first worn them out of Lens Crafters. Looking into the faraway sky and accurately identifying whether or not there was a cloud was suddenly my specialty. Rainy days were no match for me. A grease-splattering recipe? I had it covered. I'd even offer the wipes ostentatiously to others—at first, glasses-wearing family members, then friends, then, near the end, even passersby.

Until, one day, I couldn't find the wipes. I'd just moved, and in the shuffle from one apartment to the next, I must've misplaced the remaining scores of them. Exhausted from carrying my bureau 20 city blocks and dispassionate about anything that wasn't eating takeout on my new apartment floor, I put it on my to-do list for the next day, and promptly fell asleep eating dumplings.

You can guess what happened the next day—and the one after that.

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Top Comment:
“Good tip! If I may add, unless your lenses are actually made of glass, which are heavy, scratch but not shatter resistant, (most lenses are not) using any cleaners such as window cleaner can dull the lenses and scratch any coatings, such as anti-reflection. Rinsing under water will wash away any tiny bits of dust that may scratch your lenses when wiping. Washing with a lotion free dish soap will wash any oils left on the glasses from your face. Wiping clean and dry with a 100% cotton cloth, like a t-shirt, will help prevent scratched lenses. This is how we do it (channeling 1995 shows my age)! Sincerely, An Optometrist ”
— Hieu N.
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Flash forward to earlier this summer. My old ways (a microfiber cloth that's seen better days and a compulsive, yet completely ineffective, series of polishings) had been reigning supreme to no avail. Humidity and temperatures were at all time highs.

And when I had to sear seven Porterhouse steaks in a steamy kitchen for a story, all in one afternoon, it was enough to make me finally crack. I polled my family members, ran some tests, did an internet deep dive, and finally, arrived at a new method for keeping my glasses clean. It requires only products I already have, and can be performed anywhere with dish soap (hi, free office supplies).


How to Clean Glasses

  1. Rinse your glasses under warm water. Aim for a temperature that's noticeably warm to the touch, but which allows you to you can hold your fingers under the water indefinitely without burning them.
  2. Grab your dish soap, and add a small amount (roughly a drop)—avoid citrus scents—to each lens.
  3. Use clean fingertips to gently rub the lenses and the frames. Get the fronts and backs of the lenses, and don't forget about the nooks where your glasses' frame curves.
  4. Rinse off the soap with more warm water.
  5. Softly rub the lenses and frame dry, using a microfiber cloth.

Have a trick for keeping glasses smudge-free? Let us know in the comments!
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a a writer at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner.

30 Comments

Diana B. August 4, 2019
I don't know why it has to be dish soap. My optometrist told me to wash my lenses whenever I'm washing my hands, which I do a number of times during the day. I don't have to get anything special out to do it, and bar hand soap (so long as it's not one that leaves a film) does the trick.
 
Lane August 4, 2019
Yep. That's what I do.
 
Belnette August 1, 2019
I’m an Optician and have been using a dish soap solution at every location I have worked at for over 25 years. A couple of drops of Dawn dish soap (the original BLUE variety) in at least 6oz water in a spray bottle, followed up with a lint-free cloth (like a ‘flour sack’ cloth) (or microfiber cloth works too) has always been the magic formula for sending my patients out the door with PERFECTLY clean lenses. It’s important that the dish soap is specifically the ORIGINAL BLUE DAWN and that the cloth used to wipe the lenses is clean and NEVER ever WASHED WITH FABRIC SOFTENER. Fabric softeners leave a greasy residue in the fabric washed in them and trying to clean your glasses with a fabric-softened cloth is just like trying to clean them with Crisco, you’ll NEVER get them clean!
 
carswell July 31, 2019
I’ve used dish detergent on my glasses for years - not because of food splatters but because my skin is very oily and it eventually wicks its way on to the frames and lenses. It has never damaged any set of glasses or lenses that I have had - ever.

I find with my most recent set of glasses that it is better if I don’t dry them. If I don’t have time to wait I find it best to pat them dry rather than rub them.
 
Nessa J. July 30, 2019
One wise old eye doc told me the same thing. I do it every time I wash my face. I do try to use a fresh, soft cotton towel to dry to avoid flecks of debris which can cause scratches. I don’t use microfiber because I can’t stand the feeling of synthetic fabric.
 
alan July 30, 2019
Some yerars ago I changed opticians. When I took my daughter for an eye test he remarked on the fact that her lenses were anti-scratch coated. 'We always recommend uncoated lenses for children because coated ones are so hard to keep grease-free' he said.
True; in the days I wore glass lenses I never had trouble - a quick wipe on a shirt tail was enought to clean even engine oil smears. Now I wear varifocals I use the dish-wash-under-the-tap method each morning.
 
Anne C. July 29, 2019
I wear my glasses on a cord and use for distance not reading. So sometimes catch food when eating. A lick and the car’s nearby tissue box is useful driving from a restaurant. Saliva is perfect for dissolving spatters on glasses as long as you have facial tissue to follow.
 
somiesayscookthis July 29, 2019
My optician recommended this as well, citing all the things you did. Use warm water and a liquid soap with no citrus oils or acids in it and wipe clean with a soft cloth. I use the wipes on the go but soap and
water clean the best.
 
Kathleen M. July 28, 2019
My eye doctor told me to soak my glasses once a month for 20 min in a bowl of water and dish soap, as you would for dishes. They also provide eyeglass spray with cloths and allow you to refill the bottles at their eyeglass location, which is a nice perk.
 
Francene K. July 28, 2019
Who knew? I've been doing this forever. Even having been warned against it by opticians. It's the only way to truly clean away grease and oil.
 
Jaisheri July 28, 2019
Do your technique in your daily shower.
 
Miss V. July 28, 2019
Thanks - and since microfiber cloth is terrible for the environment, please find another fabric for drying.
 
Patrick July 28, 2019
Several months ago I could not find my eyeglass cleaning cloth so gabbed something close by as a hunch. Sure enough worked great....I guess due to the alcohol in it. Hand sanitizer, especially with the aloe vera in it. Also KILLS GERMS on them. Two birds with one shot! I always wipe with a clean towel afterwards rather than dry themselves, which I do sometimes.
 
Food L. July 28, 2019
This might work if you dilute the detergent and if you don’t have A/R (anti reflective coating) on your lenses. Yours safest bet is to get some cleaner and cloths from your eye doctor (we give these to all our patients for free to help them get the most of their beautiful new eye wear).
 
Cuocopazzo July 28, 2019
Been doing this for years. Years ago I couldn't figure out why little oily specks were on the inside (eye side) of the lenses. I did a bit of research and it turns out that some oils are present on my eyes and sort of splatter to the lens over time. Original Dawn to the rescue. A tiny drop goes a long way to cut through the oily deposits. It also cleans the makeup residue that collects on the bridge and sidebars very nicely. By the way, when I started out 30 years ago, my lenses were glass. Now they are plastic. Dawn works on both for me.
 
Hieu N. July 28, 2019
Good tip! If I may add, unless your lenses are actually made of glass, which are heavy, scratch but not shatter resistant, (most lenses are not) using any cleaners such as window cleaner can dull the lenses and scratch any coatings, such as anti-reflection.
Rinsing under water will wash away any tiny bits of dust that may scratch your lenses when wiping. Washing with a lotion free dish soap will wash any oils left on the glasses from your face. Wiping clean and dry with a 100% cotton cloth, like a t-shirt, will help prevent scratched lenses.
This is how we do it (channeling 1995 shows my age)!

Sincerely,
An Optometrist
 
Susan S. July 28, 2019
That is exactly what an optometrist told me to do instead of buying the lens cleaner that I was going to buy...and for the most part it does work very well.
 
Fredrick32 July 27, 2019
I do this but blow the lenses dry. No need for a cloth.
 
hhvdblom July 27, 2019
I use a kitchen paper, put glass cleaner on it and off you go😀
 
Jerry N. July 27, 2019
I've been wearing glasses for 427 years. I never would have thought of this. And it works. I'm always in the kitchen, so simple.