How To Clean Camera Lenses

January 11

14 min. to read

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If you use your camera, it's going to get dirty. Luckily cleaning your DSLR's lens isn't that hard to do. Find the best camera lens cleaner solution. Here's how.

A dirty lens is one of the causes of poor-quality photos. Dust, debris, fingerprints, and grease stains remain on the camera. You don't need to clean it often, but regularly. The frequency depends on the frequency and conditions of use. For example, after shooting on the beach, it is better to inspect the lens and, if there is sand on it, remove it. You should also clean your camera bag regularly to keep debris from accumulating in it and settling on the lenses. In this article, we will tell you how to clean a camera lens. These tips can be applied to all lens manufacturers.

So, if you use your camera, it’s going to get dirty. There’s no way around it. And while you can remove some lens dust and dirt spots in Luminar Neo, the reality is that you’ll need to eventually clean your lens. As terrifying as that might seem (at least to those of us with expensive glass), it’s thankfully not terribly difficult.

What You Need for Camera Lens Cleaning

A basic lens cleaning kit has only a few things in it: a lens blower, a lens brush, a cleaning cloth or tissues, and cleaning fluid. Most of the time you can get away with just the lens blower and brush, but if you end up with oil or dirt that sticks, you’ll need to bump it up a notch with the cloth, wipes, and/or cleaning fluid. Actually cleaning your camera without leaving scratches on the lens glass is very easy.

Where to Start with Cleaning Camera Lenses

The most important things to remember when cleaning your lenses are to 1) do only the amount of cleaning that’s necessary, and 2) always minimize your contact with the gear. The more you touch the lens (with your finger, cloth, or even the lens brush), the greater your chances of making matters worse by transferring additional dirt or oil to the glass. That’s why the next four stages go from the least amount of intervention to the most—the least amount that works is always the correct amount. You can even make a homemade camera lens cleaner.

So, follow these steps in order, i.e. if the first doesn’t work, move on to the second, and so on.

  1. Lens blower
  2. Lens brush
  3. Cleaning tissue, cloth, or pre-moistened wipes
  4. Cleaning fluid + tissue or cloth

How To Clean Camera Lenses Image1

1. The Lens Blower

How to clean DSLR lenses? The lens blower should always be your starting place since it’s the least likely to introduce more dirt. Choose a blower that is larger rather than smaller—the smaller ones simply don’t get the job done. While it may be tempting to use your breath instead of a blower, it’s not recommended for DSLR lens cleaning. You can blow condensation onto the lens. Also, never use compressed air. If you do, you run the serious risk of getting the oily propellant on your lens.

The Method

So, how to clean a lens? First, squeeze a few puffs out of the blower away from the lens to clear it out. Next, position the blower as close to the lens as possible without actually touching it. Finally, blow a few puffs across the surface of the lens. If this doesn’t remove the dust, it’s time to move on to the lens brush.

How To Clean Camera Lenses Image2

2. The Lens Brush

Lens brushes have tips of fine, soft hair that will ideally avoid scratching your lens. This tool won't scratch your lens. The trick is to keep them clean. Avoid touching the brush with your fingers and keep the fibers either capped or retracted when not in use. The lens pen (shown in the photo above) has retractable bristles and a carbon-soaked polishing tip that can safely clean oil off your lens. It’s also a handy size for carrying with you. If you choose another brand, just make sure the bristles are soft and that it was made specifically for cleaning camera lenses.

The Method

Gently brush the lens surface with the bristles, being careful not to jam them into the glass. Make sure to retract or recap the cleaning tip when finished. If you don’t have a lens brush or it was not enough to clean the lens, there are other methods.

How to clean a camera lens inside? We'll give you one important piece of advice - don't try to remove dust from the inside of the lens yourself. Not only will disassembling the lens void the warranty, but I can almost guarantee that you will not be able to put it back together yourself. If you are not a professional in this case and do not know how to clean the camera lens inside, it is better to immediately contact a specialist.

How To Clean Camera Lenses Image3

3. Use a cleaning tissue, cloth, or pre-moistened wipes

If the blower and lens brush didn’t clear all the dirt and residue away, the next step is to use either a lens cleaning tissue or cloth. Lens cleaning tissues come in packs and once you use one you discard it. This limits the risk of contamination of the remaining cleaning tissues. A camera lens wipe is a very useful thing. As far as lens cloths are concerned, most people opt for microfiber cloths. Cleaning cloth costs more than lens tissues, but if kept clean can be used for many applications and even washed. (Just make sure to not wash it in fabric softener, as the chemicals they use can get on your cloth and leave streaks on your lens.) If you’re using a lens cloth (not lens tissues), make sure to keep it stored in its plastic sheath. And whatever you do, don’t use your t-shirt, non-lens tissues, or paper towels to clean your lens and lens barrel.

The Method

Begin at the center of the lens and move outward in concentric circles from one side of the lens to another. That's how you make the glass clean with a microfiber cloth or tissue. you can also clean the camera lens with alcohol.

4. Cleaning Fluid

Next, we will show you how to clean lenses and cameras with a special fluid. Using lens cleaning should happen last, after trying all the other methods. Lens cleaning fluid (and pre-moistened wipes, for that matter) uses an alcohol-based cleaner that minimizes streaking and evaporates quickly. Avoid cleaners that contain detergent or acetone — a lens fluid made of denatured alcohol is what you’re looking for. Instead of fluid, you can use a DIY camera lens cleaner made from a mixture of alcohol and distilled water.

The Method

Place a few drops on a lens tissue or lens cleaning cloth (don’t apply the droplets or spray directly onto the lens). If using a lens cloth, make sure it is absolutely clean. If streaking occurs, simply reapply the cleaning fluid, smudge it onto the lens, and re-wipe the surface. (Lens tissues taken straight out of their package actually work better here, since you know if any streaking occurs it’s not due to the tissue being dirty.)

If the dirt, oil, or markings still persist on the actual lens after you’ve taken these four steps, you’ll need to send your camera into a professional. With care, though, you shouldn’t need professional service for cleaning camera lenses too often. The best strategy is to keep your lens glass as protected as possible (i.e. using a UV filter, keeping the lens cover on when not in use, etc.). It will still need cleaning—but hopefully, you’ll be able to keep it to a minimum.

How to Check if Your Camera Lenses Need Cleaning

There are several ways to clean camera lenses. The first rule about cleaning your camera and lenses is to do it only when necessary. You don't need to clean the camera lens every time you go out, or even every week - unless you live in a particularly dusty or sandy area. Even some layer of dirt on the front element of the lens won't actually affect the image quality.

The lens and sensor are elements that are important to keep clean. You also need to keep your camera body clear. But that doesn't mean you have to clean them every day. You have to do it at certain intervals. If you shoot rarely or you don't take pictures at the beach or in a strong wind, if you don't touch the lens with your fingers, you don't need cleaning lenses often. 

Every photographer decides for himself how often he needs to clean his camera. The main thing is to be very careful not to rush and not to press the camera so as not to damage its delicate parts.

In conclusion: Keeping Your Lens Clean

You can get all sorts of gadgets and solutions for cleaning a camera lens, but in most cases, you only need two simple things to get the job done. Many photographers panic about the damage they can do by cleaning their equipment, and are especially careful to wipe away the inevitable fingerprints, dirt, and dust that accumulate on the front element of the lens. Such care is justified. Good lenses are a significant investment, and with careful care, they can last you a lifetime. Just keep an eye on your equipment and store your lenses in a special bag.


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