How To Professionally Clean A Camera Lens

You’ve invested a lot of time and money in your camera lenses. Keeping your glass pristine saves you time and significantly improves the clarity of your images.

Jim Austin covers three super easy ‘Do It Yourself’ techniques to clean a camera lens. We’ll talk cleaning filters, things to avoid, and changing lenses to minimize dust.

Three levels to cleaning your lenses by Apogee Photo Magazine Jim Austin Jimages.

When you take good care of your lenses you’ll get the benefits of crisp details and authentic color that you have a right to expect from your gear.


Here’s how to clean your lenses like the pros in 3 easy stages:

Blowers, Brushes and Wipes, Oh My. The first step is to blow off dust so use a universal rubber air blower. I bought mine for about $5 on Amazondotcom.

Clean A Camera lens Level #1

Get a blower or a blower brush and gently remove all dust and particles. This may be all you need to do….Easy!

Apply a drop or two to a Q Tip.


If there is more to clean, there are two pro options for the next phase after dust is removed. First, you can use a soft, spotless cloth or a Q Tip. You can also buy Zeiss Wipes.

Remove as much dust and dirt as possible from the lens with a blower or a finely soft-bristled hair brush. I find makeup brushes work well, purchased new.


how to clean a camera lens
A soft bristle brush removes dust an air blower might miss.

Lens tissue, a pristine cleaning cloth or a Q tip are all options for cleaning gear. I prefer a Q Tip because I know Q Tips don’t have any fabric softener or laundry detergent on them.

Also, I have micro lenses with recessed front elements, and Q Tips can reach down into the recess and touch the glass a bit easier than I can with a cloth held in my fingers.

Wipe in concentric circles out from the lens center.


Apply lens cleaning fluid (lens cleaner, 99% alcohol, DE-ionized water) to the cloth or Q Tip and wipe your lens gently in concentric circles starting from the lens center.

This circular motion will remove oil, fingerprints, and grime from the lens surface, as you work from the center outward. This pattern cuts down on streaking more than wiping across the lens.

A clean lens gives you back crisp detail and color.


After I remove all the dust with an blower, I always rip into a Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Wipe.

I’ve been using Zeiss Wipes on my lenses for years. Zeiss has a short video ad on air blowers, brushes, and cleaning fluid (

Zeiss wipes are made in China and distributed by Carl Zeiss in California. For expensive pro lenses, older lenses, coated or un-coated lenses, binoculars, microscopes or even lenses of different formats, Zeiss wipes are effective, safe and easy to use.

When it comes to clean a camera lens, they are my preferred method. At Walmart near the optical boutique section of the store, they are about $3 to $4 U.S. dollars for 50 count packaged wipes.

There are larger packs of 250 wipes as well. Use the same concentric, circular pattern.

Special Tip: You can get ‘denatured” alcohol from Wal-Mart, or hardware stores, that is about 70% alcohol. I prefer to ask a Pharmacist for the 99% alcohol version for cleaning my lenses.

Lens Cleaning Level #3

On rare occasions, a lens cleaning fluid or a Zeiss wipe applied with a Q Tip may leave streaking. Take a pristine soft cloth and delicately wipe away the streaking from the center outward.


Lens filters get dirty. I clean filters in warm running water and dish detergent. A light application of Isopropyl alcohol over the filter surface after rinsing in water will speed up drying the filter and remove streaking.

Streaking can be caused by some lens cleaning fluids and also by applying fluid with Q tips.


If you want an immaculate cleaning, ensure your room is spotless, and use white gloves that come in a Cleaning kit. This one came boxed with an Olympus Camera from Japan.


Remember to clean dust and dirt off the rear lens element.

The best way to keep dust off is to put the both front and rear lens caps on right away when you change lenses. When you change lenses, the mantra is “Sensor Down”.

This means point the camera to the ground, and bring the rear of the lens up toward it to place and then lock in your lenses.

This technique minimizes dust floating down from above into the camera sensor. We always want to avoid a sensor cleaning at the OEM factory, a time consuming process.


Careless cleaning habits, over time, can spoil the precision of your lens and disrupt the coating. Lens coating is relatively recent invention in the 20th century, and many lenses before the 1920’s are uncoated.

Do Not: apply cleaning liquids directly to your Lens , put them on the cloth first.

Do Not: try to avoid blowing on your lenses. Some tutorials advise it but I find that our breath can have bacteria which may contaminate the surface of the lens.

Do Not: use your t-shirt.

Do Not: use a compresssed air blower on your camera’s interior. Doing so risks blowing dust on the imaging sensor.

Do Not: use acetone.


Hope you enjoyed my article on how to clean a camera lens



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