If there’s one thing COVID-19 has taught us, it’s the need to keep things clean!  Keeping your spectacles clean can be a challenge at the best of times. With all the cleaning products being used in our homes and work places we thought it might be timely to talk about some do’s and don’ts with regards to cleaning spectacles.


Broadly speaking there are two approaches to cleaning the lenses in your spectacles. Dry cleaning and wet cleaning. Dry cleaning refers to wiping the lenses without any cleaning solution. The only safe approach to dry cleaning is to use the microfiber cleaning cloth that was supplied with your lenses. It is essential you are sure this microfiber cloth isn’t contaminated with anything abrasive. If it is you could risk scratching your lenses. Microfibre cloths are designed to work best when dry. They work by trapping tiny dirt particles in the microfiber fabric. As a result they become clogged over time and become less effective.  This can be remedied by either cleaning the cloth or getting a new cloth. Dry wiping is most effective as a light duty cleaning method. If your lenses are greasy or have something more stubborn on them you will need to use a wet cleaning method.

Wet cleaning involves using a liquid cleaner to help break down the surface contaminants. Once the cleaner has loosened and softened the dirt it can be mopped up with an absorbent paper towel or tissue.  Cleaning liquids for spectacles usually contain a combination of detergents and solvents. These ingredients have been tested to ensure they won’t adversely affect the coating on your spectacle lenses. Only use cleaning solutions approved for use on your spectacles.  After wet cleaning and mopping up the excess cleaner you can use your microfiber cloth to perform a final wipe of the lens surface.

A word on tissues – The type of tissues you use to wipe off the left over cleaning fluid is important. Avoid any tissues made from coarse recycled material as they can scratch your lenses. Also avoid any tissues that are impregnated with moisturizers such as aloe vera.  Moisturizing products will leave a deposit on the lens surface that will defeat your best cleaning efforts. Use plain, soft tissues and never re-use a tissue. When you take a fresh tissue from its box you can be certain it won’t be contaminated with anything abrasive.

Another version of wet lens cleaning is to use an alcohol wipe. Alcohol wipes are generally safe to use on modern spectacle lenses and are very effective at removing oil and grease. We recommend an alcohol-based wipe, like the Zeiss wipes which are also safe to use on laptops, cameras and phones. You should avoid wipes that contain any additional fragrance as this will leave an unwanted residue on the lens surface.  Alcohol wipes are a “one step” wet cleaning process as any left over alcohol quickly evaporates after wiping without the need for any mopping up.

There are some common cleaning substances that definitely should be never be used on your spectacles. These include:

ACETONE – Acetone can destroy some lens materials. It can also melt some frames or frame components. Never let acetone come into contact with any part of your spectacles. NOTE – Acetone is sometimes the active ingredient in nail polish remover.

AMMONIA – Ammonia is too powerful to use on spectacles and repeated use can degrade the coating on your lenses and degrade frame components.

BLEACH – Like ammonia, bleach is too risky to use on any part of your spectacles.

RINSE AID – Rinse aid is very caustic and can destroy the coating on your spectacle lenses.

TOOTHPASTE – Will not remove scratches from plastic lens materials! Will destroy your lens coating and make your lenses opaque

STEEL WOOL – Let’s not even go there.


The spectacle frames themselves also need a thorough clean from time to time. Eventually dirt and grease builds up between the edge of the lenses and the frame rims. When this happens it becomes difficult to get your lenses clean. This is because as you wipe the lens surface you continually drag contamination from the lens edge across the lens surface.  Fortunately we have a secret weapon to help with this issue - the Ultrasonic cleaner. Ultrasonic cleaners work by sending high frequency sound waves through a body of water to dislodge and remove contaminants from hard to reach places.  Nose pads on metal frames are another area where dirt builds up. The ultrasonic cleaner does a wonderful job of removing this dirt without any risk of damaging the frame or nose pad material. For extremely dirty frames we will sometimes remove the lenses and nose pads from the frame and individually clean these components before reassembling the spectacles. All Abernethy Owens practices are equipped with ultrasonic cleaners and we are happy to perform a professional clean on your spectacles completely free of charge when ever you feel they need it.


  • Always ensure your microfiber cleaning cloth is clean and uncontaminated. If in doubt, wash or replace.
  • Only use liquid cleaners approved for use on spectacle lenses.
  • Always use gentle pressure when wiping your lenses. Never “scrub” or use hard pressure.
  • Avoid tissues that contain any additional moisturizers
  • If you are ever unsure about anything to do with cleaning your spectacles please consult our professional Optical Dispensers who will be happy to assist.