Monday, March 11, 2013

Make Your Own Eyeglass Cleaner

eyeglass cleaner 1b

l had two separate people in the same week ask me about a homemade version of eyeglass cleaner. The idea was such an obvious one…apparently TOO obvious…because I never thought of it. :-)

It was particularly timely though, because recently I’d been wondering about what would be best to clean my reading glasses when my microfiber cloth just isn’t cutting it. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE my microfiber cleaning cloths! I was introduced to them right after I first started this blog, and I’ve been using them ever since.

For the most part, my reading glasses only need a quick cleaning with my microfiber polishing cloth and they are good to go.  But sometimes, especially if I’ve been doing a lot of cooking posts and my glasses have become a sticky, greasy, smeary mess, I find myself in need of a little something extra to cut through the gunk.

I started looking around for a homemade eyeglass cleaning solution and the answer was surprisingly simple. 1 part water, 1 part rubbing alcohol, 1 drop soap.

The water was a no-brainer, the rubbing alcohol was as well, (but I happened to be out of it, so I substituted witch hazel), and the drop of soap was open for interpretation.

eyeglass cleaner


eyeglass cleaner 1

I decided to try it a couple of different ways. One batch I made with 1 drop of Dawn dish soap….the second batch I made with 1 drop of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. To be honest, I couldn’t really tell a difference.  They both did exactly what I was looking for them to do….they cleaned the layer of grime off my glasses. Then I was able to finish the job off with my handy dandy microfiber cloth and I could see clearly once again!

So that is my “recipe” for clean eyeglasses, be they for reading, sun, or whatever.

Homemade Eyeglass Cleaner

1 part water
1 part isopropyl alcohol (or witch hazel)
1 drop soap (your choice)
microfiber cloth

eyeglass cleaner 2

Mix together in spray bottle. Spray on dirty lenses. Wipe with microfiber cloth.


eyeglass cleaner 3

It’s gonna be a bright, bright, sun-shiny day!

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91 thoughts on “Make Your Own Eyeglass Cleaner

  1. Cathy

    Jillee-We have well water. Should I use distilled water or does it matter? I spend a lot of money on eyeglass cleaner because every one in my family wears glasses. For a small 6 oz bottle it is $3. Can’t wait to make my first batch this week. Thanks so much

  2. Jillee Post author

    Cathy….I originally considered using distilled water…but decided it would be fine with tap water. I’m not exactly sure about well water…but I would think that in combination with the alcohol (or witch hazel) it should work just fine!

    I understand your plight…the person who originally emailed me about this also had a family full of eyeglass wearers! :-)

  3. Ashton

    Did you look into if alcohol is safe for the lenses? I suppose I could just do a quick Google myself, but I was once told by an optometrist not to use Windex on my lenses, and I assumed it was because of the alcohol. It could have just been a ploy for me to buy their cleaner!!

    1. Nicole C

      It’s not a ploy – I’m a certified optician and alcohol is NOT a good thing to use on lenses that have Anti-reflective coating, eventually it will break it down and flake off – voiding its warranty. We always recommend using a drop of Dawn under running water and use a soft cloth to dry. No tissues – they are paper and will cause scratching.

        1. Nicole C

          Heather,I’m not familiar with the Eco brand, however, it should be fine, as long as it doesn’t have any hand moisturizers (lotions) because they will gunk up your lenses. The most important thing is to make sure they are always wet, then dry with either a microfiber cloth ( which can be laundered, just don’t use softener) or a cotton cloth. Good luck :)

      1. Diane H.

        The cleaner that came with my glasses has 3.5% alcohol in its ingredients. I bought my glasses from and the cleaner was free. It doesn’t seem like the would send it (or sell it in stores) if it included alcohol.

      2. Pam

        That’s what my optometrist recommends – plain old dawn (no added moisturizers or anything) and water, dry with a cotton tea towel. Dawn is works because it doesn’t leave a soap film.

    2. bettie

      Ashton-alcohol can strip the outer hard coatings off your lenses. We use it only as a rare treatment for aerosols and such that have coated the lenses. Windex has ammonia, which is even worse-don’t use it. Water and a soft cloth are all you really need, but you can use (most) hand soaps as well. I do use the cleaner we sell at my office, but you don’t need to.

    3. Christine Perry

      The windex has “Ammonia” in it which will scratch plastic lenses. If you have a “anti-glare” coating on your glasses the alcohol could strip that too. You could use the soap, water and a splash of vinegar :)

    4. Emma Carr

      The alcohol is fine on regular plastic lenses. Windex isn’t good because of the ammonia in it. If you have any coatings on your lenses, such as Crizal, you should just use mild soap and water.

  4. Diana B

    I used to wash my glasses with dish soap and it ended up clouding my glasses over time. Eye doc said not to wash with dish soap. Been using hand soap since. The milder the better.

  5. CTY

    Sounds like a great solution (pun intended).
    For me though the micro cloths are out–for some reason I can’t stand the feel/texture of the cloth I get gooses bumps. I use a lint free paint cloth (which is a gloried square of a t-shirt).

  6. Diana Estep

    Alcohol should not be used on eyeglasses that have coatings on them. It is funny that the eyeglass places want to sell you their cleaner that also have alcohol in them … My eyeglasses are $600 a pop & trying to find something that works that doesn’t contain alcohol is not easy.

  7. Michelle

    Most eyeglass cleaners and wipes contain isopropyl alcohol so I guess it’s fine. Original Windex contains ammonia and your lenses probably are not glass but polycarbonate so it should not be used. I don’t know for sure but I’m also thinking that it could take off any of those expensive special coatings that you may have on your lenses as well.

    1. Julie

      The ammonia shatters the polycarbonate lenses. I learned that the hard way when the corner of one lens started looking like my glasses had been dropped & that they’d landed on that corner. Those glasses were never dropped. I was cleaning them with Windex & it’s like it caused the layers to separate creating the shattered look. I took them in to ask if they could be repaired in some way. After one look the lady said, “You used Windex didn’t you.” then she explained what happened. Costly lesson to learn.

  8. Deborah J.

    Makes total sense to me. When in the kitchen, I just usually grab my bottle of hand sanitizer and it works like a charm… and, as you know, it’s main ingredient is rubbing alcohol.

  9. Karen

    I kook fpeward tp makunh tgia yp”

    Wow! What a difference!

    Just cleaned my glasses with your Spec Cleaner & look! I can see the key board …

    Great stuff Thank You Jillee

  10. Janice Torrence

    WalMart carries cleaner in their optometry section. If you purchase any siz e bottle of cleaner, you get free refills forever. Just bring in the original bottle when it gets low and they will fill it up.

    1. gayle

      I used to do that also. I have checked with FIVE different Wal-Marts…they won’t refill….and have no idea what I am talking about. :(

    2. Carol Dingwell

      Also Costco. Buy their bottles and they fill for free too. Mine does say on the bottle not for the anti reflective coating. I tried that coating once and hated it so don’t ever get it on my glasses. Also I use this cleaner on my Kindle Fire screen.

  11. Amy

    Concerning using Dawn dish soap – If your glasses have any type of coating, scratch-proof, no glare, etc., the soap is what causes the lenses to cloud up. My parents were warned when buying new glasses not to use dish soap of any kind.

  12. mary

    Costco also has free refills their eye glass cleaning solution. Just make a purchase of their eyeglass cleaner and when it is empty, bring in the empty container for a free refill.

    Since reading glasses (of the drug store variety) do not have any fancy coatings, your homemade solution should work just fine.

  13. Troye

    This is the same recipe I use for.the cleaner for my granite.counter tops (except I added some essential oil) and found it to work wonderfully on my eyeglasses. Been using it for months And no problems with the coating on my lenses

  14. Marcia K

    One of the keys is the cloth! You must make sure the cloth has not been cleaned with fabric softener. It makes the glasses smear. Any cloth that is clean and not cleaned with fabric softener will make a HUGE difference. I asked at the eye glass center. It certainly has made the difference for me. I came home and washed all my cloths by hand in a mild detergent by hand and then hung them up to dry. I usually buy my cleaner at Walmart ( they offer free refills in their own bottles…what can be better than free right?)

    1. Carol Dingwell

      I found some wonderful micro fiber cloths at a store called Harbor Freight if you have those in your area. They are mainly tools and guy stuff but did have the micro fiber towels there. Also car wash section of Walmart has them cheap too.

  15. Serenity

    Nice! Both myself, my fiancée and his son are glasses wearers and they both get there’s dirty, especially my fiancée who work as a chef. But what is one part equalivant to? A cup?

    1. Rita

      One part can be anything. One cup, one half cup, 3 tablespoons. Doesn’t matter. :) Another way of saying it is “equal parts.” The amounts don’t matter as long as they match.

  16. Patti White

    Funny…I almost used my witch hazel/OnGuard spritz I always carry with me to clean my glasses in church last night, but I was worried about the oil damaging my lens and I wasn’t sure about the witch hazel either. Good to know the witch hazel won’t hurt, but I’m afraid the oil might, because I’m not sure what they make lenses from these days. Thanks for this idea!

  17. annie

    The anti-glare coating on my chain store lenses peeled after using eyeglass cleaner. When I replaced the lenses at my local shop I was told to clean them only with Lemon Joy and warm water and to wipe with a soft paper towel (i.e., not the kind of paper towel you’d find in a restroom). This has kept my lenses in good condition and crystal clear for 3 years.

  18. Connie Snyder

    Careful with the alcohol. If you have scratch resistant coating on your glasses, the alcohol will make it cloudy resulting in blurry vision!

  19. Carrol

    I worked for an optometrist & was taught to use water & if necessary, a touch of dish soap. It’s also what our patients were told to use. With all the different lense coatings being used today, I would be hesitant to use anything stronger

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  21. julie roth

    I was told by Americian Eye Care – They use straight rubbing alcohol – if really dirty use a little dawn – at the sink, rinse. –They said it will not hurt your coatings.. I am in lots of hairspray… really works for me.. I just have a spray bottle of alcohol. And I do my clients also… And I use the micro. cloth…

  22. Comet

    Be careful if you use paper towels to clean ANY glass or plastic! Most all paper towels are made from all or partly RECYCLED paper which can–and DOES–contain small bits of OTHER substances–like shards of plastic and metal and other grit. Tons of old unused mail; factory sweepings of off cuts of paper; unread or recycled magazines with all of the STUFF crammed in there–you name it it is pulped in a giant blender and made back into paper! Good for the planet–not so good for PLASTIC or GLASS. And yes–this CAN scratch glass!

    My hubs used to work in paper recycling and one time they had the letters from the “Dead Letter” bin and they found GOLD COINS rumbling AROUND THE BOTTOM of the blender! Many other things found there way in there too inc a cat that ended up coming to our house and getting healed up and living here for years.

    So–microfiber–if you can stand it and I have a hard time with that TOO—or T-shirt or even just a lint free linen swatch. For all glass and plastic! We make sure to NEVER use paper towels on our poly windshields on motorcycles as they scratch BADLY and then need special “System” cleaners to get even some of the smoothness back. Once that is gone–it is gone forever.

    1. marlene

      Good advise! I wanted to share what happened to me years ago.
      I was at a cottage, and grabbed a paper towel, and wet it to freshen my face.
      Of course it is probably a rare occurrence, nevertheless as I wiped my face with the paper towel I actually scratched it. A piece of what looked like a wood sliver within the towel actually left a scratch mark on my face.
      I never cleaned any glasses with paper towels after that, or my face, actually. Thanks!

  23. Telina

    Vinegar should never be used on plastic, unless you know for sure it is resistant to the breakdown that can occur with vinegar. It can and does break down some types of plastic.

    When cleaning my glasses, I just put a drop of dish liquid on my finger, rub it between my thumb and finger, then with the eye piece of the glasses between my thumb and finger, gently rub both sides of the eye piece, rinse, then dry with a lint free, scratch free cloth.

    Never use any type of paper product on your glasses.

    I’ve been doing this for over 30 years with my glasses and I’ve never had any issues with fogging or scratching. I do have glasses with the anti-glare and anti-scratch coatings.

  24. Donna

    I have been buying a cleaner from Costco called Wipe N Clear……Biodegradable lens wipe. The ingredients say there is alcohol in it! It has never hurt our eye glasses. However, from now on I will be making my own! I use it on my 2 iPads, iPhone, and my laptop computer also!

  25. Lynne Hurd Bryant

    That is funny, I was going to ask you for this myself! I was cleaning my reading glasses (we are of an “age”) and the spray bottle is almost out. One of my chores this week was going to be looking on onegoodthingbyjillee for a recipe. You’ve read my mind! THANK YOU

  26. Chris

    I just run my glasses under the faucet and then dry with a clean towel or even the corner of my bed sheets. I do have a blue Norwex screen cleaning cloth in my purse I love. It’s not microfiber so doesn’t have that funny feeling that dry microfiber cloths have. The microfiber are great once they’re wet though.

    1. Jillee Post author

      I just switched to a new email system and some subscribers might not have been moved over. If you just re-register at the top of the page that should get you back on the list :)

  27. Sarah

    I always wear my glasses into the shower, wash them with my face soap, and dry them on my towel. I have been wearing my current pair for years with no problem.

  28. Roni Silverman

    I would not try on glasses with Crizal coating. Optometrist advised only mild soap and they give you a special cloth to wipe with. But cool if you’ve not got that coating

  29. Aubrey

    Hi Jillee. Just noticed I haven’t been getting your daily emails since Thursday. Is your email sender broken? Thanks! I enjoy reading your blog!

    1. Jillee Post author

      I just switched to a new email system and some subscribers might not have been moved over. If you just re-register at the top of the page that should get you back on the list :)

  30. Rachel S.

    Just an FYI, but at the apple store they use there “solution” to clean the iPhone/iPad screens. I asked what it was and the store clerk said “honestly, its just contact solution”. I have been using mine (got lasik and had a bunch extra :) on my screens and my sunglasses. Works like a charm!

  31. Di Mancino

    Oh that is strange….. I was just going to email you and ask about a recipe for cleaning spectacles as I wear them all the time. I have been using the cleaner I bought from the optometrist but for some reason it leaves the glasses with a smokey smear and I have never had that before. These glasses I bought from them last year and have a anti reflective coating on, which I have had before and have had no problems cleaning them but these new ones are a devil to clean smear free and i use their glass clothe too. I am definitely going to try your recipe and after everyone’s comments I will use hand soap in it and witch hazel. Thanks so much for all your recipes Jillee, your ace!

  32. Terri S

    i was also missing emails, so i re-registered–but it said to confirm my registration with an email sent to me–i’ve never gotten the email, so will wait til tomorrow to see if i’m back ‘in’!

  33. Kristina

    This solution is exactly what we used in a sonic cleaner at the Optometrist office I worked at. BUT do NOT use this cleaner, or anything with alcohol in it if you have Anti-reflective coating on your lenses (I.e. Teflon, Crizol…) as it will cause the coating to start to peel. I worked there for 5 years so I know what to use and not to use. Just a suggestion. But if you don’t have the anti-reflective coating,this solution is Awesome!

  34. Michelle

    *********************DO NOT USE THIS BEFORE READING*********************
    I’ve been in optical for nearly 13 years…
    ~~~~~Alcohol will eat away at the treatments on your lenses over time and should not be used on lenses with Anti-Glare coating especially.
    ~~~~~The soap you use needs to be anti-bacterial free or it can scratch your lenses due to very small grains in the soap.

  35. Michelle

    Also, you should never clean your lenses with a cloth alone. ALWAYS wet them first as anything you are trying to wipe off is only going to be drug across your lens and in turn, could scratch them. If everyone followed this rule, my life and theirs would be so much easier. And FYI: Water is the best thing for your lenses. There is no need for much else than that.

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  37. cynthia

    I found out that alcohol could not be very good on glasses with a glaze on them, It will crackle the glaze…which happen to me and I had no thought about that until it did….

    1. Michelle

      She obviously doesn’t care. Several people have made the comment that you shouldn’t use alcohol on all lens types. She’s made no attempt to correct this.

      1. Molly Smith

        I don’t think that she doesn’t care by not correcting this post. Anyone who is going to go to the trouble to make it (I just did) is going to read a few comments and make up their own mind. I’ve been using store bought wipes (Lens Care) with isopropyl alcohol content for at least two years.

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