It’s sunglasses season! In our optometric practice, it’s always sunglasses season. That’s because we recommend everyone wear their sunglasses 365 days a year, rain or shine. Doing so will protect your eyes from the damaging UV rays of the sun that are present in Earth’s atmosphere daily.

But when you put those sunglasses on, is something keeping you from the clean, crisp vision you experienced when you picked those gorgeous sunnies up from our optical department?

We’re talking about that greasy, oily film and smudges on your lenses. How does it get there, and how can you remove it safely without damaging your sunglasses?

Sunscreen, make-up, hair products, dust, dirt, pollen—a sunglass lens has a lot of enemies! Have you ever dropped yours in the sand? Yikes, that’s always a panic-inducing moment.

There’s a human tendency to wipe soiled sunglass lenses on the hem of your shirt, but that’s one of the worst things you can do for the longevity of your lenses. Not only might your shirt have dust or dirt on it when you start trying to rub away those smudges, but the lenses themselves clearly have dirt on them, which can scratch and further smudge glasses.

So what’s the best way to clean sunglass lenses so you can see crisply and clearly?

Here are 8 Do’s and Don’ts for cleaning sunglasses (and all optical lenses) correctly:

  1. DO: Avoid paper products and shirt hems: Paper products, tissues, and napkins are, in their essence, wood pulp. Not only is wood pulp highly abrasive, but many paper products generate dust and leave it on your lenses. Shirt hems are equally problematic, since they’ve been exposed to dust, pollen, and other environmental debris.
  2. DO: Use some form of liquid to clean lenses (versus a dry cloth). Even if you have a clean, dry microfiber cloth at your disposal, you need some sort of liquid—either a lens cleaning spray or water—to clean them properly. And no, breathing on lenses up-close to form condensation on the lenses isn’t enough moisture to clean them properly.
  3. DO: Rinse glasses in clean, warm water. This is especially critical if you’ve dropped your sunglasses into the dirt, sand, or other debris. Rubbing the sand off them will scratch your lenses and their delicate coatings. If they’re extremely dirty, hold sunglasses under running water to remove the dirt or sand, then fill a clean bowl with water and add a drop or two of mild dishwashing liquid. Dunk the sunglasses several times to remove debris, and gently massage the lenses between your fingers with soapy water until the smudges are gone. Dry them with a clean, microfiber cloth.
  4. DON’T start with the lenses. As you start cleaning your glasses, focus on the frame first. That’s where oils, dirt, make-up and sunscreen congregate: On nose rests and any other parts of the frame that touch your face. Tackle these areas first before moving on to the lenses, and you’ve got a better chance to avoid smearing sunscreen and make-up all over the lenses.
  5. DO: Stock moistened lens wipes in your beach bag, car, or purse. Since you won’t find a bowl of water at most beaches, parks, or playgrounds (though do look around for a water fountain), use a pre-moistened lens wipe or specially formulated lens cleaner to clean lenses on the go.
  6. DON’T get lenses salty. Saltwater is a sunglass lens enemy because its caustic, abrasive quality can scratch lenses. In addition to avoiding saltwater on your lenses, avoid lemon or lime-scented dish soaps to wash lenses. Citric acid in dishwashing soaps contains salt, and in any form, salt can damage your lenses and their coatings.
  7. DON’T use vinegar, bleach, or ammonia on lenses. Vinegar, bleach and ammonia are go-to household cleaners, but their powerful cleaning properties can strip away delicate lens coatings. Window and glass cleaners also contain harsh properties that can damage your lenses. In addition, the residue or fumes from these cleaners can irritate the delicate tissues of your eyes.
  8. DO: Clean proactively. While we’ve all been lazy and worn truly grimy lenses that haven’t been cleaned in several days, it’s best to clean sunglasses (and all glasses) proactively on a regular basis. Daily cleaning will prevent serious build-up and keep your sunnies looking good. Either in the morning before you leave the house or before bed each evening, dunk glasses in a bowl of water or under running water and clean them with mild soap and your fingers, drying them with a microfiber cloth. And, don’t forget to wash those microfiber cloths each week.

Now that you know how to keep your sunglasses clean and scratch-free, visit us to find a new pair that suits your style and mood this summer! We look forward to helping you find the perfect pair to frame your face and protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays.