Picture of an example of anti-reflective lenses, in a pair of eyeglasses.

Clean Anti Glare Glasses Safely, How To

We’ve worn eyeglasses with anti reflective coatings for over two decades, and have received advice from several optometrists about how best to clean them.  How to clean anti glare glasses is not hard once you learn how to safely handle them, which cleaners work the most gently and safely, and which cleaning cloths scratch the least.

How to Clean Anti Glare Glasses Intro

All of these are key factors in preserving the costly anti glare coating for as long as you can while giving a clear, glare-free view.

Front view of a pair of anti glare glasses.
A pair of anti glare glasses, front view.

Why Buy Anti Glare Glasses ?

Some people may choose not to purchase anti glare glasses due to their higher initial expense.  But improvement in vision over non anti reflective glasses is quite noticeable and quite worthwhile.  There’s less “haze” from internal lens light reflections with this technology, others can see your eyes better through anti glare glasses, and this optical tech will only improve over time.  So we learned how to clean ours effectively, rather than abandon the technology altogether.

Pick Good Lens Cleaning Cloths for Anti Glare Glasses

So given that, we’ve tried the popular dry lens cleaning cloths from Kodak and other vendors, made up of a very thin, tissue-like paper, as well as some of the costly liquid lens cleaners that work in concert with these.  But our success was only moderate.  Invariably, this cleaning duo left smears and streaks on the lenses, and hastened the degrading of the anti reflective coating.  The coating would either wear off altogether near the lens edges, or become discolored and lighter; its anti reflective properties completely disappearing.  Its dark green purple appearance would often change into a bright pink after a few months, and at nearly $100 to have the damaged coatings replaced, we soon sought better ways to preserve the coating until the spectacles were due to be replaced anyway.

What the Optometrists Say

We talked with many doctors about increasing the life of the anti glare coatings. They all agreed.  The best cleaner to use is a   lotion-free, mild dish washing liquid such as Great Value, Palmolive, Joy, or Ajax.  You may have to dilute the thicker liquids by mixing one part water with one part of dish soap.  You want the solution thin enough to spread easily with the fingers over the entire lens surfaces, both front and back.

Avoid Oily Soaps

But avoid those dish soaps that contain lotions, oils, and lanolin for skin softening.  Why? These can smear your glasses so badly that not even the lens cleaning cloths can remove this.  Also, avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive solvents such as cleansers, polishes, ammonia, or bleach based cleaners, as these can strip the coatings away over time.  You want just a basic dish washing-by-hand liquid with no extra chemicals in it besides the soap.

Then, once you’ve washed and rinsed your anti glare lasses, use a microfiber cloth, designed to safely clean anti glare glasses.  Find these at most any place that sells glasses such as Walmart, Pearl, Lens Crafters, Sam’s Club, et al.  Use this cloth, only to dry the rinsed lenses; not for cleaning.

For washing, you gently rub the soaped up glasses with your fingers until you cover both lenses.  Avoid excessive rubbing, as this too can prematurely wear out the AR coatings.

Picture of some soft lens cleaning Cloths.
Examples of soft lens cleaning cloths.

Be sure to use a clean, soft, lint free lens cloth.  Any oil in this cloth can smudge your glasses as you dry them.  These smears can degrade the anti glare performance. It might even damage them for good.

But fortunately today, anti glare coatings are more durable. Indeed they generally last longer under most conditions.  But they are NOT indestructible.  Anti glare coatings are still quite delicate. So be careful.

How to Clean Anti Glare Glasses Safely

To sum all this up, here’s our tried-and-true procedure to clean anti glare glasses.

1. Apply Water

Wet the glasses with clean water.  Use filtered or softened water if you live in a hard-water area to prevent suspended particles in the water from scratching your lenses.

2. Apply Dish Soap

Then, onto each lens, place one or two drops of dish washing liquid; the hand kind, not that for dishwasher machines.

3. Softly Scrub Glasses Front

Next, gently rub the glasses surfaces with your fingers, taking care not to press too hard.  Also, be sure you have no callouses, scabs, dry skin, or other rough edges on your fingertips, as these can mar the micron-thin lens coatings.

4. Clean the Back Side

The soap you have on your fingers from the first sides should be sufficient to clean the other sides.

5. Clean Nose, Ear, and Temple Pieces

Also, rub clean the nose rests and the entire frames of your glasses.  You want to remove all the body oils from them, including the frames, ear pieces, nose pieces, and temple wings.

6. Rinse Soap Off

Rinse under warm, running water until the lens surfaces squeak when running your fingers across them.

7. Dry the Glasses

Then, use the anti reflective lens cloths mentioned above to completely dry them to a vivid shine.  You’ll know that you’ve effectively cleaned the anti glare lenses if they have a deep purple or green appearance.

8. Finally, Inspect your Glasses

If the light they now reflect looks bright pink, you should try cleaning them again.  We wash our lens cloths along with shirts in the washing machine once a month to ensure that they contain no granular dirt that can scratch, or oils that can smear the lenses.  Antiglare lenses brightly display even the smallest of smears.  So to minimize smearing, get your lenses squeaky clean (no oils left behind that can smear).

As with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to anti glare eye glasses.  So to preserve their peak performance, avoid getting them very dirty in the first place, or at least, minimize how dirty you get them.  Avoid solvents like turpentine or citrus-based cleaners, or any harsh chemicals, as these can quickly obliterate the micro thin anti reflective films on your lenses.

True, you’ll always have some body oil on glasses that are worn every day.  But keep in mind that even when you employ the procedure above for the gentlest cleaning, cleaning operations stress the anti reflective coatings.  Too much cleaning will damage them.  So, wear and store your specs such that they require minimal cleaning.  But for those times when cleaning is absolutely necessary, use the procedure above for the least damaging yet best restoration of performance to your delicate lenses.

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Revision History

  • 2019-05-21: Added targeting for ‘Clean Anti Glare Glasses’, removed ad scripts, and added tags and links.
  • 2017-01-18: Originally published this post.