Picture of a typical eyeglasses with anti reflective coating.

How to Clean Eyeglasses with Anti Reflective Coating

We’ve worn glasses with anti reflective coatings for over two decades.  In that time, we got advice from several optometrists. They showed us how to clean eyeglasses with anti reflective coating.

Indeed, this is easy once you know how to safely handle them.  You should know which cleaners work the best and safest, and which cleaning cloths scratch the least.  All of these are crucial factors in keeping the expensive anti reflective coating working well.

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

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

But we found just moderate success.  Almost always, this cleaning duo left smears and streaks on the lenses.  This buildup hastened the degrading of the anti reflective coating.  The coating either wore off near the lens edges entirely. Or it became discolored and lighter.  Its dark green purple appearance changed to a bright pink after a few months.  So, at over $100 to have the damaged coatings replaced, we soon learned how to better care for the lenses.

How to Clean Eyeglasses with Anti Reflective Coating: Our Experience

What the Optometrists Suggest

We talked with numerous doctors about lengthening the life of the anti reflective lens coatings.  They all agreed.  They said that the best lens cleaner is a lotion-free, mild dishwashing liquid soap.  We use brands like Great Value, Palmolive, Joy, or Ajax.  Now you may have to dilute the thicker soaps.  For that, we mix one part water with one part of dish soap.  You want the mix thin enough that it easily spreads with the fingers over the lens.

But do avoid those dish soaps that contain oils and lanolin for skin softening These can smear your lenses.  Then, not even lens cleaning cloths can get those out in some cases.

Also, avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive solvents.  Specifically, don’t use  cleansers, polishes, ammonia, or bleach based cleaners.  Why not?  Well, these can strip the coatings away.  You want just a basic dishwashing-by-hand liquid with preferably no extra chemicals in it besides the soap. Do not use soap designed for automatic dishwashers.

Anti Reflective Coating Eyeglasses Drying Cloth

Where to Get Eyeglasses Cloths

Then, once you’ve washed and rinsed your anti reflective glasses, dry them with a microfiber cloth.  Use one designed for safe drying of anti reflective lenses.  You get these at most places that sell glasses such as Foreyes, Pearl, Lens Crafters, Sam’s Club, Walmart, et al.

Tips for Using Eyeglasses Cloths

Use this cloth, only to dry the rinsed lenses; not for scrubbing them.  For washing, you gently rub the soaped up lenses with your fingers until you’ve completely covered all lens surfaces.  Avoid excessive rubbing though. This too can wear out the AR coatings before their time.

How to clean eyeglasses with anti reflective coating. Picture of soft anti reflective lens cleaning cloths.
How to clean eyeglasses with anti reflective coating. Examples of soft anti reflective lens cleaning cloths.

Use a clean, soft, lint free lens cloth.  Any oil in the cloths can spread to your clean lenses as you dry them.  Oil on them reduces their anti reflective performance. Or, it could permanently damage them.

Fortunately today, these coatings have grown more durable.  They generally last longer under most wearing conditions than they did a mere decade ago.  But don’t think that they’re indestructible.  Anti reflective coatings are still quite delicate.  They can easily be scratched if you get industrial lubes or solvents on them.  So be careful.

How to Care for Eyeglasses Cloths

We wash our lens cloths along with shirts in the washing machine once a month.  How come?  Regular cleaning ensures that the cloths remain free of  any granular dirt.  Granules like sand or small stones and powers can scratch.  Antireflective lenses brightly display even the smallest smears and scratches.  So to reduce smearing, keep your lens drying cloths clean.

How to Clean Eyeglasses with Anti Reflective Coating: The Routine

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

1. Apply Water

Wet the glasses with clean water.  Use filtered water if you live in a hard-water area.  This stops suspended particles in the water from scratching your lenses.

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 Scrub Anti Reflective 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.  Jagged finger nails rough skin can also mar the micron-thin lens coatings.

4. Clean the Back Sides of your Anti Reflective Glasses 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 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 your 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. Finally, Check Out your Eyeglasses

If the light they now reflect looks bright pink, you should try cleaning them again.

How to Clean Eyeglasses with Anti Reflective Coating: Conclusion

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to anti reflective 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 cleaners. Why? These can quickly destroy the micro thin anti reflective films on your lenses.

Finally. you’ll always have some body oil on glasses that you wear every day.  But keep in mind that even when cleaning as described above, don’t do it too much.  Indeed, too often glasses cleanings stress the anti reflective coatings.  So, too much cleaning  wear them down.  So, wear and store your specs such that they require minimal cleaning.  But when you must clean your glasses, use the method above.  It least damages yet best restores your delicate eyeglass lenses to decent performance.

Related Posts to How to Clean Eyeglasses with Anti Reflective Coating

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  4. Cleaning Ray Ban Sunglasses Instructions
  5. How to Clean an Electric Kettle Safely

References for How to Clean Eyeglasses with Anti Reflective Coating

  1. Anti Reflective Lens Coating    on Wikipedia
  2. How to Clean Glasses With Anti-Reflective Coating    from eBay
  3. How to take care of your eyeglasses   from Consumer Reports

Revision History

  • 2021-09-10: Added the Suggested Reading section.
  • 2019-05-25: Tuned the targeting for ‘How to Clean Eyeglasses with Anti Reflective Coating’ and added more tags and links.
  • 2018-04-14: Revised post content for better keyword targeting.
  • 2017-02-24: Originally published.
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