How to Clean Oakley Sunglasses

We’ve worn sunglasses with polarized and anti reflective coatings for three decades, and have received advice from several optometrists about how best to clean them.  How to clean Oakley sunglasses is not difficult once you understand how to safely handle them, which cleaners work the most gently and safely, and which cleaning cloths scratch the least.  All of these are essential factors in preserving the stylish, pristine Oakley for as long as possible while providing a consistently clear view.

Some people may choose not to purchase sunglasses due to their higher initial expense; particularly the non prescription Oakleys.  But improvement in vision over non light attenuating glasses is quite noticeable and very worthwhile.  There’s less “haze” from internal polarized lens light reflections with this technology, and this optical tech will only improve over time.  So we learned how to clean ours effectively, rather than abandon these premium sunglasses altogether.

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 buildup of micro fine scratches on the lenses.

We talked with numerous doctors about increasing the life of our polarized sunglasses, and they all agreed.  The best cleaner to use is a   lotion-free, mild dishwashing 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 that it can easily be spread with the fingers over the entire lens surfaces, both front and back. However, avoid those dish soaps that contain lotions, oils, and lanolin for skin softening, as these can leave smears on your glasses that not even the lens cleaning cloths can remove.  Also, avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive solvents on any polycarbonate lenses, such as cleansers, polishes, ammonia, or bleach based cleaners, as these can actually strip the coatings completely away over time.  You want just a basic dishwashing-by-hand liquid with preferably no extra chemicals in it besides the soap.

Then, once you’ve washed and rinsed your sunglasses, use a microfiber cloth, specifically intended for safely cleaning eyeglass lenses.  You can get these at most any place that sells sunglasses such as Walmart, 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 sunglasses 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 sunglasses lens cleaning cloths.
Examples of soft sunglasses lens cleaning cloths.


Be sure to use a clean, soft, lint free lens cloth.  Any oil contamination in the cloths can spread to your clean sunglass lenses as you dry them, impeding their overall performance, or potentially permanently degrading and damaging them.  Fortunately today, sunglasses lenses have grown more durable, and generally last longer under most wearing conditions.  But don’t think that they’re indestructible.  Anti glare and polarization coatings on many sunglasses are still quite delicate, and can easily be scratched or destroyed if you accidentally get industrial lubricants or solvents on them.  So be careful.

How to Clean Oakley Sunglasses

To sum all this up, here’s our tried-and-true procedure to clean Oakley sunglasses.

  1. Apply water.  Wet the sunglasses 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 dishwashing liquid; the manual kind, not that for automatic dishwashers.
  3. Softly scrub lens fronts.  Next, gently rub the sunglasses 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 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 sunglasses.  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 sunglasses.  Then, use the microfiber lens cloths mentioned above to completely dry your eyeglasses to a vivid shine.
  8. Finally, inspect your glasses.    Best done in bright sunlight, verify that you’ve removed all the dirt and oils from your sunglasses.  You’ll know that you’ve effectively cleaned the lenses when they show no smears or dirt or lint specs in the sunshine.

How to Clean Microfiber Sunglasses Cleaning Cloths

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.  Sunglass 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 Oakley sunglasses.  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 uniformly clear consistency of these lenses.

True, you’ll always have some body oil on glasses that are worn every day.  But even when you employ the procedure above for the gentlest cleaning, cleaning operations still stress the lenses.  Too much cleaning can damage them.  So, wear and store your sunglasses such that they need minimal cleaning.  Keep ’em clean in the first place.  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.


Revision History

  • 2017-03-14: Originally published this post.