Eyeglass care — Cleaning and caring for your prescription or fashion glasses and sunglasses

Are you, like me, often looking through eyeglass lenses that are covered in fingerprints, grime, and smears? (It’s hard to garden or cook or take your glasses off and on for reading without smudging them!) Do you, like me, find yourself rubbing them with your shirttail or scarf or whatever’s handy? Then you, like me, probably have lenses that are full of scratches, too. Not only is it unpleasant to look at the world through that mess, it’s also a strain on our eyes. Simple eyeglass care can take care of all that.

I’m about to invest in a new pair of glasses, and I’m determined to take better care of them. Here are the eyeglass care tips I’m keeping in mind. (These tips will work for your sunglasses and fashion eyewear, too, if you’re lucky enough to not need prescription glasses.)

Cleaning Don’ts

• Don’t hold your glasses by the temples or lens rims when cleaning. Hold your frames by the bridge to prevent putting strain on them in any direction.

• Don’t rub your glass lens when they’re dry. The smallest particle of dust or dirt (never mind that giant smudge of potting soil) can permanently scratch the lens when you swipe it. Always wet the lens before wiping it.

• Don’t use window cleaner or anything else containing ammonia, bleach, or vinegar on your lenses. These ingredients can strip the anti-reflective coating of your lens. BTW, many anti-glare coatings repel water, dirt, and oil, so they’re a good way to keep glasses clean as well as glare free. 

• Tempted to spit on the lens? Don’t. Your spit might contain oil or some other damaging substance. (Besides, it’s kinda crude, don’t you think?)

Cleaning Dos

• Use either an eyeglasses lens cleaner like those you buy at an optical retail store or a ph-neutral liquid soap to clean your glasses. For the soap, simply wet your glasses with warm water, then apply a little soap and rub over the glasses with your (clean) wet fingers. Do both sides. Rinse well.

• Use a soft, clean, cloth to dry your lens—not a paper towel, paper napkin, tissue, or your shirt hem. Even if they feel soft to you, these papers and fabrics can be abrasive and cause micro-scratches. In the case of clothing, it might be imperceptibly soiled or contain ingredients that can smudge and/or harm your lenses—like fabric softener. 

Experts recommend a microfiber cloth for drying. I use old white cotton undershirts that I’ve cut into swatches. They don’t unravel, even after washing. And you should wash them (or your microfiber cloth) often, using warm water and no fabric softener. 

If you have the time, air dry your glasses for best results.


Good eyeglass care means TLC when it comes to handling.

• When you’re not wearing your glasses, store them in a case or pouch to keep them clean and protect them from getting bent. (Don’t just slide them unprotected into your pocket or, ahem, purse.) A hard-shell case offers the most protection, but a soft one is much better than nothing. You might keep extra cases where you take off your glasses—bedside or in your bathroom, for example.

• Don’t store glasses in the car on a hot day. The heat can warp the frame.

• Don’t push your glasses on top of your head. Because your head is wider than your face, they’ll become stretched out before long. If you’re always taking off your glasses and putting them back on, you might try a chain to hold them around your neck (there are myriad styles out there, like this pretty one) or another fastener, like this magnetic glasses holder that looks like a pin. Let’s rock that elderly librarian look!

• Take care not to lay your glasses lens-down. Even in their storage case, place them lens-up.

• Use both hands when removing your glasses. If you use one hand, you’re likely to stretch out that side of the frame taking them off and on.

• If you use hairstyling products (especially those you spritz on), take your glasses off (and move them away from where you’re styling) first. The product can damage the glasses frame and/or the lens coating. 

• Likewise, don’t leave your glasses on the sink counter where they’re likely to get splashed or spritzed. 

• Have your glasses adjusted now and then for a good fit. This will not only keep them feeling comfortable, it’ll also prevent your constantly pushing them up or adjusting them on your face, which is bound to smudge or bend them eventually.

Hopefully, if I take care of my new glasses using most of these tips (not sure I’ll be able to always use two hands to take my glasses off!), I can look at the world through clean, scratch free, rose-colored lenses.

Do you have any tips for good eyeglass care? Please share! 

You might also like: How to clean jewelry and Prevent pilling.

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