How to Clean Binoculars and their Lenses

Keeping your binoculars clean helps them last longer, and doing it properly ensures you have clear images.

The first thing you should do before cleaning your binoculars is look at the user manual. They often have recommendations for what tools to use or what chemicals to avoid on your lenses. Binocular lenses have different coatings, and manufacturers will know what chemicals harm the coating on your lenses.

After checking the user manual, there are four steps you can follow to clean your binoculars.

1: Brush dirt and dust off the lenses

One very important thing to remember is never rub dirt or dust off your lenses. Rubbing dirt off will cause microscopic scratches on your lenses. You won’t be able to see those scratches, but they scatter light. Over time that will add up to make your image cloudy. You may be tempted to use a soft microfiber cloth to clean the dust, but even that will rub the dust on the lens to create scratches.

Holding the binoculars upside down, use a lens cleaning pen with a soft brush or canned air from an office store to brush the dust off. If you use canned air, be sure to use short bursts of the air. The drastic temperature changes can cause damage to the lens. Don’t breathe or huff on your lens to remove dust. The water particles in your breath will spot your lens and possibly make it more dirty than before.

2: Use a cotton swab moistened with water or lens cleaning solution to wipe away any remaining grime.

Never use window or glasses cleaner on your binocular lenses. They contain chemicals that can damage the coating on your lenses. Don’t pour the lens cleaning solution directly on the lens. It can seep through the edges and cause damage inside the binoculars. If you have waterproof binoculars, you can run the lens directly under tap water. Be sure to use a light stream with less pressure. Remember to take care with damp binoculars. Don’t store them until they’re dry, and don’t put caps over damp lenses.

3: Use a soft, lent-free cotton cloth, microfiber cloth, or special lens tissue to wipe away smudges.

Never use a paper towel or face tissue. They’re made of woody particles that are too rough on your lens and will scratch it. Don’t use your shirt or other clothing you wear either. Those can be too rough or have dirt and dust on them. Make sure to store your cleaning cloth in a safe container where it won’t get dust or other substances on it.

Be gentle and don’t apply pressure when touching the lenses. You can put a little lens cleaner on the cloth if the smudge is still refusing to come off. Wipe in circular motions from the middle outward.

4: After you’ve cleaned your lenses, you can wipe down the body of your binoculars with a soft cloth to remove dirt or other grime. If you have removable eye cups, be sure to take them off to wipe them.

Don’t dismantle your binoculars when cleaning them. You may ruin the optic alignment. If there is something on the inside of your binoculars, take them to a professional.

Don’t touch your lenses with your fingers. Not only may your fingers be dirty, the natural oils on them could break down the coating on your lens.

Cleaning your binoculars is very important to keep them in good shape, but if you over-clean them, you may damage them. Only clean your lenses when there is something on them.