woman cleaning glasses
(Image credit: Garo/Phanie/REX/Shutterstock)

Time to own up - have you ever used your sleeve/shirt-tail/saliva to tackle a smudge on your glasses lens? Cleaning glasses with the wrong materials can result in smears, scratches and, in some cases, irreversible damage to your lenses. Read on to discover the best way to clean your specs, how often you should be doing it and whether it's really possible to get scratches out of glasses lenses without doing more harm than good...

Optometrists recommend cleaning eyeglasses every morning. If you have coated lenses, any marks will appear more noticeable. However, uncoated lenses get just as dirty! Don't worry: you don't need to splash out on fancy lens cleaners - according to the experts, washing up liquid works just as well!

How to clean glasses

  1. Ensure your hands are clean and free of oils and lotions.
  2. Rinse your glasses under a gentle stream of lukewarm tap water to remove dust and debris.
  3. Apply a small drop of basic non-citrus, non-moisturising washing-up liquid or hand soap to each lens.
  4. Gently wipe lenses, frames and nose pads using your fingertips – work from the outside in to avoid smearing oil and grease from the nose pads across your lenses.
  5. Rinse again (leftover soap can cause smears).
  6. Gently shake your glasses to remove most of the water.
  7. Dry carefully, using a clean, lint-free towel which hasn't been washed using fabric softener (this can cause smears).
  8. If any smears or smudges are still visible, gently rub using a clean microfibre cloth.

While optometrists recommend good old tap water and washing-up liquid, you can use specialist lens wipes if you're on the go. You can also remove grease and grime from nose pads using a soft toothbrush.

What not to use to clean glasses

  • Clothing 
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper 
  • A dry cloth - Unless you are using a microfibre cloth, you should always avoid ‘dry cleaning' your lenses, since this can push particles of dust on the lenses into the glass, causing scratches.
  • Window cleaner or other household glass or surface cleaners. These can damage lens coatings.
  • Vinegar - it might be great for drinking glasses but it's not recommended for eyeglasses.
  • Anything containing ammonia or bleach.

Be careful not to use anything that might have grease, lint and dust on to clean your glasses, as this can smear and scratch lenses, causing permanent damage in some cases.

Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on womanandhome.com.