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How to Clean Glasses and Sunglasses So You Can See Clearly

When on the beach, at a baseball game, or on a leisurely drive, the world looks better through a good pair of shades. That is until fingerprints, sweat, or oils from your face smudge the lenses and it becomes harder to see. Most men have been guilty of using the hem of their t-shirt, or whatever cloth happens to be nearby. We're here to help you do better. Figuring out how to clean glasses (and how to clean sunglasses, for that matter) is a bit more nuanced than you'd imagine.

No sir, finding out the best way to clean glasses can actually make a world of difference in how you see and how you feel, and there are a few more steps to the process than one might think (don't worry, it's easier than cleaning a carburetor). Rest assured, it's nothing you can't handle on your own, though. Finding out how to clean your glasses and sunglasses can be every bit as helpful as learning how to remove scratches from glasses, too.

Take it from us when we say the below way to clean your glasses and sunglasses really does work wonders in a few easy steps. Try it out, see more clearly, and of course, make sure you're well-stocked with the best men's sunglasses and stylish eyeglasses.

How to Clean Glasses and Sunglasses

Step 1: Wash

Make sure your hands are clean and free of dirt and germs by washing them. Be sure to use an oil and lotion-free soap, as both of those can smudge the lenses.

man washing hands
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: Rinse

Using lukewarm running tap water, rinse your glasses to remove debris and dust. You will want to ensure the pressure isn't too hard and the water isn't too warm, as both of those can damage the glasses.

man cleaning glasses with a cloth.
Photo taken in Bangkok, Thailand Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: Wipe

Using a microfiber cloth, wipe down your lenses and the frame. Most sunglasses (unless you bought them last minute at the gas station down the road from the beach) will come with a case and a microfiber cloth inside. For reference, you can feel the difference between these and other materials you've undoubtedly used in the past.

Step 4: Clean

Apply a single drop of dish soap on both sides of the lenses, gently rubbing the soap over the lens. Once again, make sure the dish soap is free of oils and lotions. If your glasses have raised or inset details, use a lint-free cloth to get into the crevasses.

wet glasses with water droplets on them.
Photo taken in Jodhpur, India Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 5: Rinse

Rinse the glasses with water, paying special attention to the lenses, to remove excess soap. Use the same rules as the pre-rinse. Be sure the pressure is gentle and the temperature is lukewarm at most.

man wiping glasses with t-shirt.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 6: Dry

Lightly shake the frames to remove excess water. Try not to grip one of the temples as you shake them, as that can damage the hinge or the screw near the lens. Once these are damaged, the glasses will never sit on your face the same way again.

What Not to Do

  • Avoid paper towels, your shirting fabric, or tissues when wiping off smudged lenses, because these materials can actually scratch the lens and reduce its clarity over time.
  • Avoid products, like nail polish remover, made with acetone. Acetone can destroy the lenses and even damage the frames.
  • Don't use your own saliva (it's true) to clean your glasses. This can spread germs or create further smudging.

Why It's Important to Clean Your Glasses and Sunglasses Regularly

Apart from the fact that dirty and smudged glasses or sunglasses can make it difficult to see, there's an added hassle of dealing with glasses that aren't clean. It can even make it difficult for others to see you, and it can be noticeable if your glasses or sunglasses aren't clean. Plus, the build-up of dust and debris can even scratch and damage the lenses and lens coating over time, leading you to replace your glasses or lenses more frequently than necessary.

While we recommend a stylish rotation of sunglasses and even a backup pair or two of eyeglasses, it's best to keep your favorite go-to pair in good shape (no, make that great shape). Once you learn how to clean glasses and sunglasses, it's a process you can go back to time and time again. Long-lasting, stylish glasses are but one important accessory to keep in tip-top shape, and you can take that to the bank.

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Beau Hayhoe
Beau Hayhoe is a freelance men's style writer, consultant and PR pro based in Brooklyn. Beau's menswear and gear writing has…
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