How To Clean Your Glasses Without a Streak in Sight

Photo: Stocksy / Pedro Merino
Peering out at the world through smeared, greasy lenses is no way to live your life. And yet, for the estimated 164 million U.S. adults rocking eyeglasses every day, it can be difficult to find a moment to clean your lenses so you can see the world clearly. Luckily, there's an optometrist-approved strategy for cleaning your glasses without a streak in sight.

"It is Important to clean glasses because it improves vision and clarity, and it also can be a safety factor," says Selena Chan, OD, of Pacific Rims Optometry in San Francisco. Over time, your glasses collect dust and bacteria that can cause eye infections. Smudges even contributing to eyestrain and headaches.

Experts In This Article
  • Selena Chan, OD, optometrist with Pacific Rims Optometry in San Francisco

Taking a moment to clean your glasses is a simple, effective way of looking after your future well-being, and you need to do it a lot more often than you think. "You need to clean your glasses at least once every day," says Dr. Chan. "Sometimes the eyeglasses may need to be cleaned more often if the lenses become dirty."

For example, if you're throwing them in your purse without a case, you may want to make a point of giving them a quick cleaning before going back to work or snuggling up with a book.

Now, as you might guess, cleaning your glasses isn't exactly rocket science, but it is a subtle art that deserves a moment of care and attention. (This technique works equally well to clean your sunglasses.) Below, Dr. Chan walks you through the step-by-step process of seeing clearly. Ready?

How to clean your eyeglasses properly, according to an optometrist

1. Gather your supplies and wash your hands

To give your glasses a nice cleaning, you really only need a bottle of lens cleaner and a microfiber cloth. That's it. "Obtain lens cleaner and microfiber cloth that is suitable for your specific types of lenses from your local optometrist," says Dr. Chan. If you don't have glass cleaner at the moment, but need clear vision stat, you can also use rubbing alcohol or gentle dishwashing soap.

Once your supplies are together, wash your hands so you don't wind up adding more bacteria to your glasses.

2. Clean your glasses

You're ready to go. Spray the lens cleaner liberally on the lenses and frames, or apply the rubbing alcohol or dish soap. Run your glasses under lukewarm water and shake them dry. (Don't use paper towels, your T-shirt, or cloth towels to dry them; these materials are too abrasive for prescription lenses.)

3.  Check your glasses for fingerprints and/or debris

Finally, "wipe fingerprints and dirt off with microfiber cloth until clean," says Dr. Chan. Not to be repetitive, but you really don't want to use a normal cloth here. It will shorten the lifespan of your glasses and may even cause more smearing, which is totally counterproductive.

Add the finishing touches and—bam—you can see clearly now, the smudges are gone.

How to know if it's time to replace your glasses instead of just giving them a good cleaning

There comes a time when no diligent cleaning routine can rescue your glasses. Dr. Chan says there are a few red flags to look out for. "Some signs [that it's time to replace your glasses] include: scratches in the lens, coating starting to peel from the edge, or your vision isn't as good as it used to be," she explains. "It is recommended that we should get new lenses every year or two depending on your vision needs and how much wear and tear the glasses have had."

If you start to notice that your glasses have seen better days, make an appointment to see your optometrist. It may be time to retire your pair and get some new frames to help you see the world around you.

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