Keep smudges, germs, and dirt at bay with these tips.

By Lauren Wellbank
June 15, 2020
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Getty / Thomas Barwick

Your eye- and sunglasses work double duty—acting as both an extra layer of protection between your eyes and the outside world and a means of improving your vision—which means caring for them is an important and delicate job. To make sure you are doing it correctly, we asked three eye doctors for their best tips on keeping your eyewear clean.

Use dish soap.

The lenses of your glasses are a magnet for everything from smudges to dust. Fortunately, according to Dr. Ashley Roth, getting them clean is as easy as pulling out the soap and water. "Use a small amount of dish soap and wash your lenses and frame, rinse with water, and then use a clean soft paper towel to dry them," she says. Just remember not to use a paper towel on your glasses unless they are wet. "If you use a paper towel on your dry lenses without washing them, it will scratch them!" she adds, noting that this also goes for sunglasses.

Skip heavy-duty cleaning products.

Optometrist Dr. Erica Johnson Carder says that dish soap is the only everyday product to use on your lenses—you should skip using any other household cleaners on your eyewear. "Vinegar, paper towels, shirts, and napkins will scratch your lenses," she says, adding that once your glasses are scratched, there is no way to fix them or to buff the scuffs away. In that vein, when you aren't actively wearing your glasses, make sure to put them back into their case.

Stop the spread of germs.

It's no secret that germs are everywhere, which is why it can be especially important to ensure your eyewear, which sits on your face all day long, is properly (and regularly) disinfected. "Soap and water will disinfect them just like they disinfects our hands, but washing your glasses throughout the day is not practical—so you can use a disinfectant wipe on the frame if necessary," Dr. Roth explains, adding that you should avoid cleaning your lenses with the disinfecting wipe though, and opt to use a microfiber lens cloth on that part of your glasses, instead. But take caution if you choose wipes, she notes: "Using a disinfectant wipe that has alcohol can strip the moisture from a plastic frame and start to discolor and damage it, so unless you really think your frame has been contaminated, I do not recommend using them."

Consider your contacts, as well.

If you opt for contacts over glasses, your cleaning routine is even more important, says Dr. Johnson Carder. So much so that she recommends daily disposables to ensure you are getting a fresh lens every day. If those won't work for you, or you prefer longer wearing lenses, she suggests making sure you take them out every night to clean them with a multipurpose solution. "This involves rubbing the lenses on both sides, or even better, using a hydrogen peroxide-based cleaner such as Clear Care Contact Lens Solution ($16.99, target.com)," she says. "Rinse and wipe out your case each morning and allow it to air dry face down on a tissue with the caps off."

But Dr. Larah Alami, an optometrist with Hudson River Eye Care, says there's another step to consider: Before you can clean your contacts, you must clean your hands. "Always wash your hands with soap and water before touching contact lenses, and dry your hands with a lint-free towel," she says. Also make sure that your hand soap isn't oil- or lotion-based, as it can leave a residue on your hands that can be transferred to your contacts or your eyes.

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