It’s that time of year again – when the bright light of spring shines down on all the grime that’s accumulated over the winter. Eww. Now we need to clean the nooks and crannies of our homes and items. While the crud on your glasses might not have been noticeable before, it’s time to refresh your frames, lenses, and earpieces.
Let’s learn how to clean our glasses and sunglasses without damaging the film on some lenses, paint and paper treatments on temples, and metal plating on frames.
BASIC CLEANING AND CARE FOR EYEWEAR
Rinsing and washing:
- The best way to clean is with moisture – either water or lens cleaner. Oh, and wash your hands first so you don’t undo all your good work with stray fingerprints.
- Always rinse with water first. We don’t give water enough credit – and the best thing to clean any pair of sunglasses is basic tap water. (Unless the water in your area is hard, then rinse with distilled or filtered water.) By rinsing away specks, oils, and sands that might coat, debride, or damage your eyewear before you clean it – you’re preventing problems before they start.
- Some eyewear may be able to be washed with a lotion-free dishwashing liquid to get rid of oils, sunscreens, and built-up gunk on the frames and temples. This isn’t recommended for any lenses with a film or treatment on them, as it may remove that film. Thoroughly rinse all soap off your glasses before drying.
Detailing and wiping:
- Frames first! Go into the nooks and crannies of your hinges, nose pads, and around the edge of the frame with wet cotton swabs. If you must use any type of dental pick to get out encrusted gunk, be very careful not to do so near the lens!
- Use lens cleaner that’s specially made for eyewear. It’s often less harsh on plastic and lens treatments than other cleansers. Acetone, alcohol, and glass cleaners can damage treatments on lenses.
- Wipe dry with a clean, lint-free microfiber cloth only. Any dust or lint that’s on your cloth can scratch your glasses, so make sure you’re only using a clean, soft cloth.
- Keep your pressure light when cleaning. Some films, like blue light, polarized, or mirror films, need a light touch to stay intact.
- Some brands of polarized or mirrored sunglasses have special cleaners to protect against damage to the treatments.
Prevention and maintenance:
- Always store your glasses and sunglasses lenses side up to prevent damage! Keep them safe with a clean case, and keep them out of car seats, off of tables that see a lot of use, and anywhere they might be in danger of being crushed or scratched.
- If you have any paper treatments that can’t be exposed to water – use an eyewear cleaning wipe to clean the frames and temples.
- Always keep pre-moistened lens wipes on hand because you’ll never know when you need to clean your glasses. If you use lens wipes, after you’re finished with the lenses you can wipe the frames and temples to prevent oils from building up.
- Maintain your frame! Don’t just clean your eyewear once in a blue moon – keep up with regular cleanings. Not only will you have nice, shiny glasses, you’ll keep your face free from icky bacteria.
- If you have a favorite, pristine pair of sunglasses and want to keep them way, take them to an optician and ask if you can add a scratch-resistant coating to the lenses. They may not do so for sunglasses purchased outside of the store, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
What NOT to do:
- Don’t use your breath then rub your glasses or sunglasses on your shirt. And stay away from paper towels and tissues! Especially if they are dry. The issue with all these things is they can create micro-scratches on your lens surface. Paper products are made of wood pulp, and shirts can have dust or debris that add to scratching your lenses.
- Never scrub your lenses! They are delicate babies and cannot stand even the slightest trauma.
- Don’t start with the lenses! Instead, clean out the frames, nose pieces, and temples, getting rid of oils, make-up, sunscreen, and dirt. Removing the oily, gritty stuff will prevent it from smearing on your lenses later.
- Don’t use cleaners – especially on mirror and polarized lenses. Bleach, vinegar, ammonia, alcohol, or window cleaner may be much too harsh for any blue light, mirror, or polarized treatment on your lenses. Also, most sunglasses lenses are made of polycarbonate plastic, which may not accept treatment chemicals as well as glass.
- Stay away from salts and acids! They’re great for food, but bad for your eyewear. Salt is a crusty, scratchy mineral (and you can tell it I said so), and acids have a small problem where they tend to eat any and everything. If you love your salt water hair spritzer, don’t use it with your eyewear on. And remember that any citric soaps likely have citric acid, so keep your glasses away from orange, lemon, or lime dish soaps.
- Are you using your own spit to clean your glasses? Don’t be ashamed. We’ve all done it. But stop that. Stop it right now. Not only will it not clean your lenses, it will add bacteria.
- Things to keep out of your car when it’s hot – babies, pets, anything with an expiration date, anything that can explode or catch fire, and your sunglasses. Heat can deform some lens films, plastic frames, and lenses.
- When you wash and dry your microfiber eye cloths, don’t use fabric softener or drying sheets, as they can leave a film on the cloth that will transfer to your lens.
- If you see scratches on your lenses, there’s no way you can buff them back to normal. If they are prescription glasses, head to your optician and ask them if there’s any way to save or replace your lenses. If your sunglasses don’t have any kind of film or treatment on the lenses, see if your optician can save them too!
Ultrasonic jewelry cleaners:
We personally haven’t tried these yet – but they come with a lot of recommendations! So we’ll give it a shot, and let you know if an ultrasonic cleaner works for your sunglasses and glasses. Ultrasonic cleaners are made to remove grime from plastics, metals, stones, and more, using water and ultrasonic vibrations.
Many ultrasonic cleaners come with a warning not to use it for scratched or cracked eyewear, as it may cause further damage. It also won’t work for tarnished metals, as tarnish and other chemical changes like copper oxidation can’t be cleaned without specialized polish.
When in doubt, rinse your eyewear with water and wipe dry with a clean, soft cloth. Be gentle, be thorough, and clean them often to prevent build up!