How to Clean Sunglasses Without Scratching Them

Avoid unsightly marks and scratches by learning how to clean sunglasses the right way.

Published April 20, 2023
pink sunglasses

Spring and summer bring more sunlight hours throughout the day, which means many folks are frequently reaching for their shades. Unfortunately, many of us find that scratches quickly appear on our specs as we try to polish away the sunscreen, sweat, and fingermarks that find their way onto our lenses during these times of more frequent wear. If you want to know how to clean sunglasses properly, we shine a light on the dos and don'ts of this seemingly simple task.

How to Clean Polarized Sunglasses Correctly

cleaning polarized sunglasses

The best way to clean sunglasses is the simplest! Good old-fashioned soap and water are the most effective tools for cleaning this accessory, no matter if they are polarized or not. Here are five easy steps to follow.

1. Wash Your Hands

If your hands aren't clean, then your sunglasses won't get a fair shake during the cleaning process. Oil and dirt from your skin can be easily transferred to the frames, so sing happy birthday and get your hands ready to work!

2. Rinse Off Any Debris

Before you start scrubbing, take the time to rinse your lenses under lukewarm water. This can help to wash away debris that could potentially scratch your shades during the cleaning process.

3. Wash Using Mild Soap

Using either a mild soap or a chemical and lotion-free dish detergent, gently rub the cleaner over the frames and then move to each lens. Remember to center your focus on areas where the glasses are in contact with your face and hands, as well as on the lenses.

Need to Know

More is not always better. You will only need about two to three pea-sized drops of soap to get your glasses clean. Start with one and reapply as needed.

4. Rinse the Sunglasses

Thoroughly rinse your sunglasses in lukewarm water. Make sure that all soap has washed away, otherwise you may find residual marks.

5. Dry Using a Microfiber Cloth

Microfiber clothes are the perfect choice for drying your shades. They will not scratch the lenses, nor will they leave any residue.

Helpful Hack

Create an on-the-go cleaning kit for when a sink is unavailable. All you need is some pre-moistened lens wipes or a small microfiber lens cloth and a lens cleaner spray.

Biggest Mistakes People Make When They Clean Sunglasses

woman cleaning glasses on her shirt

Believe it or not, there is a right and a wrong way to clean your shades. Here are the top mistakes people make:

  • Using paper products: While tissues and paper towels may seem soft, they are actually made with cellulose fibers that can scratch your lenses.
  • Allowing glasses to air dry: This is a surefire way to prevent scratches, but it also causes water marks to be left behind.
  • Using clothing: Unless you just put on a microfiber shirt, clothing is not an ideal choice for shining your shades. While it is gross to think about, there is probably pollen, dust, and skin cells lurking on the fabric, which will add residue to your lenses.
  • Not wetting the lenses before wiping: Getting your sunglasses wet is the difference between clean and clear shades and smearing the dirt and debris around more.
  • Thinking your breath will do the trick: What you drink affects the acidity of your saliva and the liquid particulates in your breath. If you had coffee, tea, alcohol, soda, or other acidic drinks, and then you breathe or spit on your glasses to get them 'clean', you could be causing the tint to deteriorate. It's also quite unsanitary!
  • Not paying attention to water type: If you have hard water coming out of the tap, it could also be making your sunglasses a little opaque. Consider using distilled water for cleaning if this is the case. Also, if you're spending a day at the beach, salt water will not only make your glasses murky, it can also scratch the lenses.
  • Using harsh cleaners: Many commercial glass cleaners contain ammonia, bleach, acetone, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol to detox surfaces and leave a streak-free shine. However, these chemicals are not safe to use on tinted glass, which includes your sunglasses. These can strip away the tint, rendering your shades useless.
  • Not storing your sunglasses in a clean container: When not in use, you should always keep sunglasses in a protective case. This doesn't just prevent scratches from other objects in your purse, bag, or center console. It also helps to keep them clean!

The Best Way to Clean Sunglasses Is to Be Proactive

The easiest way to keep your sunglasses clean is to take the time to follow these simple steps regularly. This can prevent buildup and help you avoid the knee-jerk reaction to wipe muck and guck away by using your shirt in a hurried moment.

How to Clean Sunglasses Without Scratching Them