A woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera

Worst and Best Ways to Clean Your Eyeglasses

You just paid a small fortune for new eyeglasses. On top of the cost of prescription lenses and fashionable frames, you opted for anti-reflective, anti-scratch, and UV coatings. 

A woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera

After all, eyesight is precious, and it’s only wise to do all you can to protect it, right? Absolutely! But here’s the deal: You may be destroying your investment one cleaning at a time.

Modern-day lens coatings for eyeglasses are revolutionary in the way that they protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, but also provide comfort for your eyes. And these coatings are fairly durable. Just know that Anti-Scratch does not mean 100% scratch-proof. It only somewhat helps to prevent minor scratches that can easily happen to a regular lens.

Think of the following as “never-ever” ways to clean eyeglasses because they can break down the coatings—stripping them of their qualities and leaving a mess instead.

  • window or glass and mirror cleaner
  • ammonia
  • bleach
  • vinegar
  • lemon juice
  • toothpaste
  • paper towels
  • facial tissues
  • exhaling onto the lenses
  • your shirt

The wood pulp in paper towels and facial tissues and the tiny fibers in shirt fabric can make fine scratches, eventually creating a kind of visual haze that’s impossible to remove. Think of paper and fabric as extremely fine-grit sandpaper.

Now that we have the worst things you can use to clean your eyeglasses out of the way, here are the best things to clean and protect your eyeglasses to maintain their beauty and increased longevity.



  • water
  • dishwashing liquid
  • rubbing alcohol
  • microfiber cloth
  • lens wipes

How to clean eyeglasses

Follow these steps for cleaning eyeglasses and sunglasses:

  1. To start, run your glasses under lukewarm water. Don’t use hot water because it will decrease the lifespan of some lenses with coatings.
  2. Put a small drop of dish soap—blue Dawn is ideal—on your fingertips. Gently rub on both sides of the lenses and the nose pads. The best way to clean eyeglasses at home is with dish soap. Even the American Optometric Association recommends it.
  3. Rinse with warm water, and gently dry with a clean, microfiber cloth. Use light touches. The microfiber cloth leaves no lint, so your glasses should be perfectly clean.
  4. Use individually-wrapped lens wipes to keep your eyeglasses clean throughout the day. Or a spritz of rubbing alcohol from a spray bottle followed with a microfiber cloth.

A pair of sunglasses, with Lens and Cleaning


Deep clean machine

Feel like your glasses have been through a lot and need a deep clean? Consider investing in an eyeglass cleaning machine for periodic deep-cleaning that gets all the gunk and grime out of the hinges, nose piece, pads, and crevices—all without harming the protective coatings*. This maintenance step is crucial to protect your eyeglasses’ longevity and clarity.

With any ultrasound cleaning machine like this Magnasonic Professional Ultrasonic Eyeglasses and Jewelry Cleaner, always use clean lukewarm water even if the directions call for hot water. The high temperature can actually warp your frames and lens coating. While tap water is OK, filtered water is highly recommended.

Follow the instructions provided with the machine and in 10 minutes, your eyeglasses’ deep-cleaning will be complete. So amazing!

*Caution: Ultrasound cleaning is not recommended for eyeglasses with scratched lenses.

First published in Everyday Cheapskate: 6-27-18

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  1. plantsower says:

    I have the antireflective coating. The one time I used alcohol to clean my glasses with alcohol, they fogged up and were ruined. I would cautioned against this just in case. I know it doesn’t happen to everyone, but it happened to me so I steer clear.

  2. Luisa says:

    I’m glad to have this information. I’ve long used Dawn to wash my glasses, so that’s good, but I’m guilty sometimes of wiping them on my shirt in a pinch. I will protect those oatings b etter now.

  3. Jeffiekins says:

    I can tell you’re a female person, because you left out a wonderful and safe way to do a quick minor cleaning: breathe on them until they’re foggy, and use a silk necktie in place of microfiber. When I’m at a wedding and someone’s taking pictures, it’s my go-to, and they always look clear in the photo.

  4. crabbyoldlady says:

    Do you still recommend homemade lens cleaning solution? It’s half water, half alcohol and two drops of Dawn.

  5. Hajime Sano says:

    What do you think of Costco’s individually-wrapped lens wipes? https://www.costco.com/Wipe-‘n-Clear-Lens-Wipe%2C-225-Soft-Quilted-Lens-Wipes.product.100380246.html I think they cost around $12 for 200 wipes.

    Years ago, they used to carry Bausch & Lomb lens wipes, a very well known brand in the optics field. They now carry Flents- not as well known and not an optics specialist.

  6. John Williamson says:

    I did get the Ukoke (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074J8VSC5) but now I find myself wondering … did I do the wrong thing?

    At first, the deep cleaning did a fantastic job, and it would be a long time before I needed another deep cleaning, but now it seems as if only a few days and my glasses are dirtier than they got previously.

    Could it be that these deep cleaning cycles are, over time, removing the anti-scratch coating or something weird like that? I’m thinking that when I get my next prescription, I’ll get one pair of glasses without any coatings, and use it in the Ukoke, but not allow myself to use the coated lenses there.

    • Chris says:

      This article gives the worst advice ever. Never use alcohol on your lenses especially if they have anti glare or other coatings.

  7. rivesmcadoo says:

    I’m a fan of water and Dawn, also. But I’m curious–what’s wrong with using warm breath to steam them up, followed by a microfiber cloth?

  8. Evan says:

    I find simple water and liquid soap great. I gently rub the soap on the lenses between the fingers under running water until they ‘squeak’ (the running water maintains a lubricating film between your fingers and the lens to avoid scratching while rubbing). Then gently dab (not rub) with a soft tissue to mop up the remaining water droplets. Avoid rubbing with paper products like tissues or hand towels as paper is surprisingly abrasive – especially on plastic lenses.

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