What to use to clean lenses and filters


TPF Noob!
Sep 26, 2010
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I've been googling and so far there are many mixed opinions on how to clean the front lens element properly. Some suggest methyl alcohol, some suggest 70% isopropyl alcohol (some even suggest 99%), some suggests distilled-distilled water.

I know there's a protective coating on the front lens element and there are those who say using alcohol could damage that. (FYI, methyl alcohol is known to damage LCD screens.) So, you might just say using water is enough, but in my opinion, they don't remove fingerprints very well and they evaporate slowly.

What about a lens filter? I'm guessing it's different from the lens element but do you still use the same technique?

So my question is, what do you use?
Lens Pen!

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B & W have their own special fluid to clean their filters with & it will do lenses as well, along with one of their 'microfibre' lens cloths & you'll be seeing clearly in no time.
I use lens paper/tissue and optics cleaning fluid. (both of them I bought awhile back and is Kodak branded)
Using that Lens Pen is a good way to scratch your lens element. :thumbdown:

The first thing to use is a hand blower to remove the bigger dust particles.

Then a natural bristle brush is used to remove the smaller dust particles.

General Brand Large Rubber Blower Brush NP10093 - B&H Photo

If anything else remains on the lens I then apply a huff of breath and gently use a Tiffen lens tissue.

Tiffen Lens Cleaning Paper (50 Single Sheets) EK1546027T-1 - B&H

If you have anything greasy on the lens element, like a fingerprint, you'll need something that has a detergent in it. Nikon Spray Bottle Lens Cleaner 8174 - B&H Photo Video

DO NOT SPRAY LENS CLEANER OR ANY OTHER FLUID DIRECTLY ON A LENS. Dampen a lens tissue with the cleaner and qently wipe the lens clean, and then use a second lens tissue to dry the lens element and remove any streaks.

I rarely need to use lens cleaner fluid. Most of the time, using the blower and brush is more than enough.

Whatever you do, do not shine a flashlight through your lens. That way you'll never see all the dust inside the lens you can't get to to clean. It's ok though, none of it shows up in your photos.
the problem with the microfiber cloths is that once you use them they still have all that dirt from the previous cleanings embedded in them.... i personally just use a really soft toilet paper.. i've never gotten my lens dirty enough to worry about scratching it from dirt particles.. plus using air to blow everything off is going to get rid of 99% of dirt particles... the biggest problem i have is fingerprint type marks.. and i'll probably get bashed but i've always used windex when my breath dosn't do the job...

Mike Leggero

i usally dont carry anything fancy,

i make sure my shirt is clean then i used it. i am wearing prescription glasses and i NEVER scratched my glasses cleaning it with my shirt considering that the glass used is probably cheaper and more likely to scratch.
I'm using alcohol free optics cleaning fluid.
The best way to protect your lens is to use an UV filter.
I personally wouldn't use any type of microfiber cloth. Once they are dirty, you have potential for putting that back on your lens, or of it's something coarse (sand, etc) you have great potential for scratching the front of your lens element.

I bought one of those Canon lens cleaning kits. They come with a brush, lens fluid, a micro fiber cloth (which is really only good for the LCD) and lens paper. I also have a blower.

90% of the time, the blower and the brush will get everything. For everything else, squirt a little fluid on a piece of lens paper, and clean the lens. Then use a new, dry cloth to pick up any left over fluid.

Lens paper is cheap, a new lens isn't.
....The best way to protect your lens is to use an UV filter.
Many disagree with that statement.

I have seen lenses damaged by the UV filter that was supposed to 'protect' them.

Nothing is better than prudent, well thought out camera/lens handeling habits.
Ive seen someone use a technique of misting the lens fluid in the air and just catching a bit with the lens in hand. Seams like a good idea.
...then again theres more chance of the fluid getting contaminated whilst in open atmosphere lol.

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