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Clean your camera lens quickly and safely

In time, you will need to clean your camera lens. There is a right way and definitely a wrong way to do it.

No matter how meticulous you are with your equipment, your lens will pick up dust, debris, water spots, finger prints, smudges and other things that can be removed. If you have haze or fungus or mold on an inner element, then you are dealing with something very different. That will require the lens to be disassembled and is beyond the scope of this article.

Cleaning your lens is a simple matter, even if that includes a big greasy smudge mark.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

My arsenal for cleaning lenses is simple:

  • Lens-cleaning solution. This usually is sold in a four- or five-ounce spray bottle at various drug store chains.
  • A box of plain white facial tissues - no lotion, no scents, no anything. Buy the inexpensive ones. They are the best,
  • A can of compressed air or a handheld blower.

That's all that you will need. Be sure to watch the video at the bottom of this article. This method works for glass and plastic lenses, Always take extra care when cleaning plastic lenses and uncoated glass lenses. Both are prone to scratching.

MINOR MARKS AND SMUDGES

For water spots or minor smudges, you can use a micro-fiber cloth. Always shake the cloth to ensure that there is no debris stuck to it. Micro-fiber cloths are nice, because they don't leave behind any fibers and are made to clean smooth surfaces, such as a lens, eyeglasses or a smartphone (including the lens!).

If you don't have one of those, a clean 100% cotton T-shirt will work. Make sure that it's 100% cotton. Synthetic fibers can scratch a lens, particularly an older uncoated lens.

COMPRESSED AIR

There are some misconceptions when it comes to using a can of compressed air on a lens. Here is my opinion, based on cleaning hundreds of lenses: It's safe to use on any lens.

There are some precautions. First, you will want to do a couple of quick puffs to ensure that you aren't blowing the propellant onto the lens. Even if you do blow this onto a lens, you can remove it.

Compressed air is perfect for removing debris from the surface of a lens, whether it be dust or some lint.

Like everything else in life, use it in moderation.

TO CLEAN A VERY DIRTY LENS

First, use the compressed air to remove any debris.

Next, get one tissue sheet and spray it with the lens-cleaning solution. The reason that you don't spray the lens is that the liquid can seep into the lens, and that's never a good thing.

Take your wet tissue and wipe it in a half-circle across the lens. Fold the tissue in half, spray it with more lens-cleaning solution and wipe again. Throw away that tissue.

Get another and lightly spray it and go over the entire surface of the lens. Fold it and use the dry side to remove any moisture.

If there is any lint left over from the tissue, use the compressed air to remove it.

By the way, you can also clean your eyeglasses using this method.

SIMPLE DON'TS

Here are some things to avoid when it comes to your lenses:

  • Your clothing. In a pinch, your 100% cotton T-shirt can help you wipe away a smudge, but in general don't use your clothing to clean your lens. That includes your shirt, skirt, socks or tie.
  • Fingers. Your fingers have oil from your body. Oil and lenses don't mix. By the way, that includes your tongue.
  • Solvents. This doesn't sound like a good idea, does it?
  • Abrasives. This includes toothpaste, Brass-O, kitchen scrubs, superfine sandpaper or anything else that might scratch your lens.
  • Damp storage areas. This can foster the growth of fungus or mold on a lens surface, which can etch the glass, and just like it sounds, it's permanent.