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

Cleaning Anti Reflective Eyeglasses Instructions

We’ve worn eyeglasses with anti reflective coatings for over two decades.  In that time, we got advice from several optometrists about how best to clean them.  Cleaning anti reflective eyeglasses is easy once you know how to do it.  So here, we show that.  We teach how safely handle them and which cleaners work best. We discuss which cleaners are safest, and which lens cleaning cloths scratch the least.

All of these help preserving the expensive anti reflective coating. They also provide a clear, glare-free view through your eyeglasses.

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

Why Buy Anti Reflective Eyeglasses

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

So given that, we’ve tried the popular dry lens cleaning cloths from Kodak and other vendors.  We found these made up of a very thin, tissue-like paper.  We also tried the costly liquid lens cleaners that work in concert with these cloths.

But our success was only moderate.  We found that this cleaning duo left smears and streaks on the eyeglasses lenses. It also 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 magenta after a few months.  At nearly $100 to have the damaged coatings replaced, we soon sought better ways to preserve the coating.

Cleaning Anti Reflective Eyeglasses Introduction

The Best Lens Cleaning Solution

We talked with numerous doctors about increasing the life of the anti reflective lens coatings, and 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 easily spread with the fingers over the entire lens surfaces.

However, avoid those dish soaps that contain lotions, oils, and lanolin for skin softening.  Why?  Because these can leave smears on your lenses that not even the lens cleaning cloths can remove.

Also, avoid any harsh chemicals and abrasive solvents such as cleansers, polishes, ammonia, or bleach.  These can actually strip away the AR coatings.  Instead, you want just a basic dish washing-by-hand liquid with preferably no extra chemicals in it besides the soap.

Then, once you’ve washed and rinsed your anti reflective eyeglasses, use a microfiber cloth to dry them. This cloth should be intended for safely cleaning anti reflective lenses.  Buy these at most any eyeglasses shop such as Foreyes, Pearl, Lens Crafters, Sam’s Club, et al.  Use this cloth, only to dry the rinsed lenses; not for actual cleaning.  For actual washing, you gently rub the soaped up lenses with your fingers until you’ve completely covered all lens surfaces.  Avoid excessive rubbing, as this too can prematurely wear out the AR coatings.

Picture of Soft Anti Reflective Lens Cleaning Cloths.
Examples of soft anti reflective lens cleaning cloths. Cleaning anti reflective eyeglasses.

The Best Lens Cleaning Cloth

Be sure to use a clean, soft, lint free lens cloth.  Any oil in the cloths can spread to your clean lenses as you dry them.  This then smears them, impeding their anti reflective performance. Or, oil can permanently degrade them.

Fortunately today, these coatings have become more durable, and generally last longer under most wearing conditions.  But don’t think that they’re indestructible.  Anti reflective coatings are still quite delicate.  You can easily  scratch or destroy them if you accidentally get industrial lubes on them.  So be careful.

Cleaning Anti Reflective Eyeglasses, Step by Step Instructions

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

1. Apply Water

Wet the eyeglasses with clean water.  Use filtered or softened water if you live in a hard-water area.  This prevents suspended particles in the water from scratching your eyeglasses.

2. Apply Dish Soap

Then, onto each lens, place one or two drops of dishwashing liquid; the manual kind, not that for automatic dishwashers.

3. Softly Rub Soap Around on Lens Fronts

Next, gently rub the lens surface 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.  Why?  These can mar the micron-thin lens coatings as you rub the lenses.

4. Clean the Back Sides Then

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

5. Clean Nose and Temple Pieces

Also, rub clean the nose rests and the entire frames of your eyeglasses.  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 Eyeglasses

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 reflective lenses if they have a deep purple or green appearance.

8. Inspect your Eyeglasses

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.  Regular cloth cleaning ensures that they have no dirt or oils.  Dirt can scratch the lenses while oils can smear them. Antireflective lenses brightly display even the smallest of smears.  So to reduce smearing, get your lenses squeaky clean (no oils left behind that can smear).

9. Done Finally!

As with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is indeed true with anti reflective eye glasses.  So to keep 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 too.   Further, keep any harsh chemicals off your glasses.  Such solvents can quickly destroy the micro thin anti reflective films on your lenses.

Don’t Clean your Eyeglasses Too Much

True, you’ll always have some body oil on eyeglasses that you wear every day.  But keep in mind. Even the gentlest cleaning still stresses the anti reflective coatings.  Too much cleaning indeed damages 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.  This yields the least damaging yet best cleaning of your delicate eyeglass lenses.

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References for Cleaning Anti Reflective Eyeglasses

Revision History

  • 2019-03-19: Added key phrase targeting, subheadings, and tags.  Also shortened long paragraphs and sentences.
  • 2017-01-18: Changed this post’s title to: Cleaning Anti Reflective Eyeglasses.  Also, adjusted tags accordingly.
  • 2015-12-12: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2015-01-05: Added white space and adjusted ad placement.
  • 2014-11-17: Added where-to-buy anti reflective eyeglasses search link.
  • 2014-11-04: Revised content, and added picture of a pair of anti reflective spectacles.
  • 2012-07-12: Originally published this post.