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.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“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.

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 contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist 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. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


Pamela C. March 16, 2023
I have worn glasses since I was 3 (now 70 years old). I recall my mom repeatedly taking my glasses off my face and washing them in dishwater before doing the dishes then drying them on a clean dish towel. Always came out sparkling clean.
William C. March 16, 2023
Since about 2007 I have been washing my glasses with dish soap, when I have the option. Pre-rinsing is key, as it helps remove dust particles that can scratch lenses, and any coatings. When I can't wash them, I still pre-rinse prior to using lens wipes, or clean cloths. When washing I always wash the whole set, lens and frame.
SeanRobbins March 15, 2023
I do exactly what you do - though I'm curious as to why avoiding citrus scented soap? Is it a preference, or a practical consideration?
Salmagal February 21, 2022
I have a better, quicker and simpler method for crystal clear lenses:
• rinse in running water
• dry with a clean piece of finely woven cotton (a flour sack type of kitchen towel, a clean cloth baby diaper or even a nightgown made of cotton lawn (a very lightweight fabric).
Voila! You are done. It works for me every time.
Salmagal February 21, 2022
I figured out the easiest lens cleaning method, by far:

Rinse your classes un
Smaug February 21, 2022
I'm surprised how many people skip the fundamental step of rinsing off dust before cleaning; whatever you rub the lens with, if there's dust on it you'll get scratches. I use a homemade version of commercial cleaners; 1/2 alcohol, 1/2 water, a drop of dish detergent.
Roscopc February 21, 2022
I do what my dad called “huing my glasses”. I hold the frame horizontal up to my open mouth and blow moist air from my mouth on them. Then immediately wipe with cloth to dry. He used handkerchief whereas I use microfiber cloth. Bu the way, I do wash my cloths separately regularly so they stay clean and lint free
gatalec February 21, 2022
Never use paper wipes! As I was once told "what is paper made out of? Wood! You are cleaning glasses with wood!". Always use cloth!
Incident23 February 21, 2022
I don’t know if this is harmful to eyeglasses but it sure works on bathroom mirrors...put a little bit of shaving cream on lenses and leave on for awhile them clean with microfiber cloth..
Celia W. August 2, 2020
This is so relatable! I too use dish soap, but dry my lenses with compressed air. Perfectly streak and smudge free every time.
[email protected] January 9, 2020
I've been using iCloths (iCloth - Select a wipe size for your device) or ( iCloth) for several years now. They are the perfect phone screen cleaner, hands down!! I've tried other products from dry cloths, to alcohol rubs, to my t-shirt, nothing else comes close to clearing so thoroughly.
Lachlan M. October 16, 2019
buy a little spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol - that's what's in the wipes.
Peter A. August 27, 2019
Dish soap is good, but if you add a spritz of Windex at the same time it is even better.
Debra D. August 25, 2019
To clean my glasses I just wear them into the shower and wash them with a drop of clarifying shampoo. I’ve been doing this for years and haven’t had any problems.
SandyDeeOH August 24, 2019
I use little alcohol wipes, like the ones they use if they're giving you a shot at the Dr. Then I buff them with a microfiber cloth. Works really well and it's cheap.
Patrick C. August 23, 2019
So wash, then dry? Damn, I was doing it the other way 'round.
Lisa T. August 23, 2019
Glasses, iPhones and iPads all get the same treatment, a T of white vinegar and a t of water, combine and saturate a soft cloth. Wipe lenses and screens then dry/polish with a microfiber cloth.
Bkilmer August 23, 2019
Indeed, as my dad used to say. He taught me to clean my glasses like this 25 years ago! Also works with basic (non-oily) hand soap. :)
teresa August 22, 2019
why do my eyelashes scrape the insides of my lenses when they don't look that long ?!!
CupcakesBabygirl August 23, 2019
It's the way your frames are adjusted, your lenses are tilted towards your face at the top of the frame. I don't recommend trying to adjust them yourself, just stop by any Optical shop or Optometrist office and they can readjust then for you for free. Just be sure to let them know what the problem is and they can fix them relatively quickly.
teresa August 24, 2019
thank you so much !!!!!
It is the same technique I use, although I’m not quite as through. I sometimes use microfiber clothes, if I happen to be wearing any.