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How to Clean Scope Lenses

by Fred Hoffman

Optics are generally meant to offer a lifetime of performance. However, upon venturing through the rugged and challenging terrains they are exposed to, they tend to get a bit dirty.  

How To Clean Scope Lenses

And when the lenses get covered with small particles, they will not offer the performance they are meant to deliver. Nonetheless, if you know how to clean scope lenses properly, dirty lenses or scope bodies will not seem like an issue at all.  

Unfortunately, most users don't follow proper cleaning procedures, and this can damage the lenses and can degrade their overall performance. But as you will find in this article, you will not have to worry about that one bit.  

Let me outline the proper procedure for cleaning optic lenses; it’s truly a piece of cake to carry out. 

How To Clean Scope Lenses 2

When Should You Clean Your Scope?  

Even if you have the best quality rifle scope, it can be practically worthless when it’s dirty.  However, also keep this in mind: if the lenses are not dirty, do not bother cleaning them. You can clean the body of rifle scope as often as you want, but for the lenses themselves, you need to exercise caution. 

A minor amount of dust or debris on the exterior of the lenses will not obstruct the view or degrade the image quality. But for most cases, that is applicable on the objective lens. When dust particles are on the eyepiece, they might be a little bit more noticeable. 

You might be wondering why should you not clean the lenses frequently, right?  

Well, too much cleaning can put a minor scratch on the glass. You can even wipe away the lens coatings. That is why most professional shooters use lens covers or lens caps. These do a proper job of keeping the rifle scope lenses clean. 

5 Simple Steps to Follow for Scope Lens Cleaning 

As we mentioned above, not all of the optics users really know the proper way to clean lenses. While many other sources out there will provide steps to clean your rifle scope lens, not all of them will be easy to follow. But we kept that in mind when we were huddling these steps: 

Step 1: Get the Required Materials for Getting the Lenses Clean 

First and foremost, you need to gather some cleaning materials. And the things that you will need are as follows: 

  • Compressed Air 

Compressed air will work like magic in terms of blowing away all the dust and debris off the coated lenses without damaging them.  

You can opt for canned air, a small air blaster, or a portable air blower. However, we would recommend using a hair dryer for this.  

  • Lens Brush 

You would need to get yourself a lens brush or lens pen. Any regular brushes will also do the trick as well. However, do make sure you pick a soft brush. 

  • Cleaning Solutions 

When it comes to the cleaning solution, water would be the ideal pick. However, you can also use household cleaners that are meant for glass. Those will generally have 90% or more isopropyl alcohol, which will air-dry faster. Nonetheless, do refrain from using a non-liquid cleaning compound. Those are not a proper replacement for a lens cleaner. 

  • Lens Cloth 

Finally, you will need a lens cloth. You can also use a lint-free micro-fiber cloth or a soft cloth. Also, a cotton swab will work perfectly to clean the scope's lenses. But to get the best results, we would recommend using a microfiber lens cloth. There is also dedicated lens tissue available too.  

Step 2: Clean the Large Debris or Dust Particles 

Start with the portable air blaster and get rid of the large dust particles that might be hanging on the surface of the lenses.  

Then use the soft brush and lightly brush the surface of the optics. However, ensure that you are putting gentle pressure on the brush or you might ruin the coatings. 

Step 3: Wipe the body and Optics 

Use a microfiber cloth to clean the scope lenses. That will take care of any of the remaining dust and dirt particles or other debris. Then clean the body of the rifle scope. Make sure you wipe all the little dust from the tight spots. Additionally, ensure that the opposite end of the bottom of the riflescope is clean too. You can use a Q-tip for this. 

Step 4: Use the Cleaning Solution 

To apply the liquid cleaners properly, drop a little bit of the solution or water into the microfiber cloth. Then by applying gentle pressure, coat the lenses. Ensure you are following the circular motions when applying the cleaning solution to the lenses. 

Step 5: Wipe the Lenses and Wait 

Once the lenses are coated with the cleaning solution, use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe them. Follow the same circular motion for this step.  

Wait for about a minute, and then the scope should be ready for use. You will notice that the light transmission and the image quality are optimal.  

On that note, to dry off the solution properly, you can also use an air blaster. And at this point, all the dirt and dust should be off the surface. However, if you still see dirt on the optics, apply the cleaning solution with isopropyl alcohol again and wait for a few seconds. 


Here are short descriptions of common mistakes that most users make during the lens cleaning process: 

Do Not Use lubricant 

Whatever you do, do not use any sort of lubricant for cleaning lenses. You will make the coating ineffective, and light might not pass through the optics properly.  

Even if a lubricant states that it offers many benefits and increases light transmission through the scope, stay clear of them. 

Never Use Abrasive Cleaning Materials 

We would highly recommend against using brushes that have abrasive characteristics. Those will leave deep scratches on the lenses and make them inoperable, which is something that you would not want. And the stiff brushes can also leave faint scratches, which can ruin the overall image quality.  

Do Not Use Coarse Cloths 

Even if you do not find any microfiber cloths, do not use a T-shirt or any other coarse cloths. Rely on cotton buds or Q-tipsÒ. Also, do not use tissues that are not soft. Only opt for the options that we have mentioned above. 

Never Unscrew Any Part That Is Not Meant to Come Apart 

While cleaning, many users tend to unscrew parts of the scope that are not meant to be unscrewed by the end-user. Eventually, they will fail to reassemble those parts, and the scope will remain unusable. For that reason, we would highly recommend not to take apart anything that seems too complicated. 

Final Words 

As you can see, learning how to clean scope lenses properly is not that much of a difficult task. All you need to do is follow the steps correctly, use the materials we suggested, and avoid the materials we warned against using. Eventually, you will end up with a squeaky-clean scope that will offer you factory-new performance.