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.


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 !!!!!
[email protected] August 22, 2019
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.
cjv622 August 22, 2019
The guy who cleans our windows said basically the same thing. Lose the Windex (It just pushes the crud around) and use dish soap and water solution. Works for glasses AND windows! (And mirrors)
kgw August 22, 2019
My coatings were already toast when I started using the tooth past!
Peter A. August 22, 2019
Whoa! If your glasses have a coating ( mine do for anti-glare), using dish soap solution will indeed clean your glasses but will take off the coating over time (less than a year in my case). I use only approved potions - typically alcohol-based formulation dried with a microfiber cloth. Dish soap y case too well...
msimko August 22, 2019
Good coatings will be fine. Cheap coatings may be affected.
Cindy H. August 22, 2019
This will not take the coating off your lenses. It cuts through the grease but if you use a microfiber cloth for computers it won’t mess up the coating. I’m an Ophthalmic technician and we do this all the time. I have glasses that are 6 years old and I do this twice a day:)
It’s a great hack and cheap too
I generally use dawn soap
LisaC August 22, 2019
I carry a small spray bottle with rubbing alcohol...usually to spray my hands after usuing public transportation...but I also use it to spray my glasses and wipe them with a clean square of t-shirt (which I recycle to assorted sizes of cloths for cleaning when they
get too grungy to wear even for houshold chores)
kgw August 22, 2019
Tooth paste...with a baking soda ingredient. Works a treat!
msimko August 22, 2019
That will ruin lenses. Toothpaste has pumice, which is an abrasive.
NEVER do this
kgw August 22, 2019
It doesn't, actually. I use a polish on automotive glass, designed to remove the mineralization of water spotting from hard water. The glass is so clear when finished it looks oem new! The tooth paste is very much less abrasive than the automotive polish.
msimko August 22, 2019
Similar to what I recommend. I put together a short video of how and when to use each type of cleaner.
The microfiber cloths are washable.
If you rely on just the cloth, you'll have funky disgusting glasses. Wash them.
jane D. August 22, 2019
somehow, i'm not near the kitchen sink when in my car, or watching TV in the family room... or in front of my computer... or in bed for the night, reading to fall asleep...
so, i keep a little spray bottle of glasses cleaner (or isopropyl alcohol when the original cleaner runs out) and a soft cloth in the nightstand drawer, in my purse... on the table by my chair in the family room... on my computer desk... and i'm set.

run to the kitchen every time my glasses get smudged? nope, don't have time... or energy... for that! especially when i am not at home! 😉
John S. August 22, 2019
I have long used the dish soap method, but I use a clean pair of undies or clean cotton t-shirt to wipe them (when I'm home). My dad used our old cloth diapers for years until they finally wore out.
Ellen L. August 22, 2019
The best way to clean glasses is not with soap because it leaves a slight residue. The way to clean glasses is as follows: Buy a very small plastic c spray bottle and a large plastic bottle of isopropyl alcohol. Spray a small amount of alcohol on the front and back of your lenses and wipe dry with a tissue. Inexpensive and safe for tinted glasses. (tip given to me by my optician.)
msimko August 22, 2019
Isopropanol will cause some frames to break. Soap and water is the safest.
Smaug October 16, 2019
It's true that isopropyl alcohol can have a startling effect on acrylic plastics, at least if they're soaked in it. How many frames are made of acrylic, and how the exposure they would get in lens cleaning might affect them, I couldn't say