Cleaning the lens of your camera is such a crucial step in not only producing high-quality photos but also ensuring your camera has a long shelf-life. The problem is that most people think a quick wipe is the answer. Nope! Cleaning the body of the camera is entirely different than cleaning the lens.
Cleaning the lens of a camera requires a great deal of care. That’s why we have put together an extensive guide on how to clean a camera lens the right way. Let’s not wait for a second more.
How To Clean Camera Lens
When it comes to cleaning the camera lens itself, not everything is about a cleaning process. While we will get to that, preventative care also plays a major role. In this section, we will focus on cleaning the camera lens with a professional cleaner. But if you are wondering How to clean camera lens without a lens cleaner, we will get to that too.
What is the best way to clean your camera lens?”
The best way to clean your camera lens is to go through a step-by-step process to see how much dirt or build-up you are dealing with to choose the best approach.
Start With The Dirt Test
First, you want to evaluate what condition your camera lens is in. You can do this with a simple dirt test.
- You will need to put your camera in manual mode so you can adjust the focus of the camera. You want to set the focus to infinity which will allow you to see the specs of dirt through the viewfinder.
- Next, you want to find two different solid backgrounds. One should be a light background, like a white wall, and the other should be dark, like a solid countertop. This will allow you to see all the specs on the camera lens clearly.
- Now, you will take a look at the photos you have taken. Zoom in on the photos looking for hazy or blurry spots on the image. This will indicate whether you need to clean your lens or not. A clear picture signals you are good to go.
What To Look For:
- Dark circles
- White specs of flakes
- Blurry or smudged areas
- Hazy parts of the photo
Buy The Right Tools
A nice DSLR camera requires the right tools to clean the lens properly. Using the wrong tools or cleaning substances can permanently damage the camera. Here is what you should invest in to make sure you clean it properly.
- An Air Blower is a tool that is used to lightly blow away anything on the lens if you are shooting outdoors. The worst thing you can do is try to blow on the lens yourself. This should cost around $30 to buy.
- A soft-bristled brush is how you can safely clean parts of the camera without worrying about scratching or damaging it. You can’t buy just any brush. Most camera professionals will look to buy a brush that has camel or goat hair because of how soft it is. This will likely cost you somewhere around $25 to purchase.
- A microfiber cloth is soft enough to wipe down the lens and get up any remaining debris that the bristle may miss. You can’t use other materials for this job because it may scratch the lens. This is similar to what you would clean glasses with.
- Having the right cleaning solution can make or break your day when trying to clean your camera lens. Whether it is homemade or you bought it, ensuring it doesn’t have damaging ingredients is the most important part. Let’s go over this.
What can I use to clean my camera lens at home?
While you will still need to use some materials and tools listed above to remove dirt and dust, the only thing that can help you with smudges or fingerprints is a cleaning solution. Luckily, it’s not too difficult to make at home.
Can you use rubbing alcohol to clean camera lenses? Absolutely. We totally recommend it.
What you need:
- 99% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol
- A small spray bottle
- Distilled water
- To start, you will need a spray bottle with a relatively small nozzle. When you use a spray bottle that is too big, you end up spraying the mix on other parts of the camera. It’s better to keep the spray contained. It’s important to note that too much fluid increases the probability of damaging the camera’s optics. And if liquid gets inside the camera, you risk the potential to ruin the operating system.
- Next, you will mix 99% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol with water. The best combination is about half and half. Shake well to mix the solution inside the spray bottle.
- When using the spray bottle, if it is too difficult to control it is better to spray directly onto the microfiber cloth rather than the camera lens. This is a safer approach.
How to Clean Inside of Camera lens
Cleaning the inside of a camera lens is a bit more complicated than just wiping down the surface of the lens. You have to be careful when taking it apart and also be gentle when dealing with the inside. When the inside is exposed, you run the risk of ruining the interior or operating system. Follow these instructions for the best approach.
What you need:
- First, start by taking apart the camera. You may need to refer to your operator manual as certain brands may differ.
- Start using your blower to gently stir up any dust that is hiding in the nooks and crannies. Then grab your soft-bristled brush and sweep away this dust and dirt.
- A microfiber cloth or lens tissue will work to wipe away smudges on the lens manually. You can use a drop or one spray of cleaning solution on these tissues or cloths to help remove tough smudges.
Likely, the outer shell of your camera lens is going to be dirtier than the internal side. The internal side is less exposed. You may want to use gloves when putting the camera back together so you don’t cause new smudges.
Using a Lens Cap To Protect Your Camera Lens
If you want to keep the outside of your lens just as clean as the inside of the lens, there are a few things you can do to make this happen. Preventive care is just as important as cleaning the camera when needed.
- A lens cap is often sold with a DSLR camera. Keep this on to protect the outside lens from coming into contact with dirt, debris, and other objects.
- Never touch the lens with your hands, and if possible, always wear gloves.
- Storing your camera in a proper camera bag can go a long way toward protecting your camera overall. A quality cushioned travel camera bag should have compartments for different lenses and the camera itself. The brand of your camera likely will make a bag that fits it.
Regular cleanings, regardless of whether the camera has dirt or not, are helpful. This helps prevent a build-up that may be harder to get up.
The Big Don’ts of Cleaning Your Camera
Now that we know what to do to clean our camera, it’s important also to have a good understanding of things you should not do. Even if the oil and grease stains are tricky, this advice will help prevent any damage to your DSLR camera.
- Do not use any paper towels, tissue paper, or bathroom clothes to clean the lens of your camera. The camera lens is fragile and very susceptible to scratching. Even paper towels can cause damage. Tissues may not cause damage, but they also can cause smudging and fall apart on the lens when wet. Only soft materials meant for glass should be used.
- Canned air or pressurized blowers are never a good option. This can blow out the lens and cause it to break. A soft manual blower that can be done by squeezing by hand is the best approach to gently blowing the dust-up.
- Do not use just water to try and get any fingerprints or smudges up. Sometimes water can just make the situation worse. You need something that helps clean the surface of the lens and get rid of bacteria and oils.
Invest in quality cleaning materials.
Use anything you find around the house.
Use soft materials when in contact with the lens.
Don’t rush the job. You could damage the lens.
Protect your camera with preventive care.
Leave your camera out when not in use
Different Types of Cameras
Likely, you have the following questions.
How to clean Canon camera lens
How to clean Nikon camera lens
How to clean DSLR camera lens
Luckily, the answer remains relatively the same no matter what camera you have. The important thing is that the only difference between brands is the possibility of opening the camera up. This you can find in the operator’s manual.
Frequently Asked Questions
We know that cleaning a camera lens can be a daunting task. That’s why we have dedicated this section to the most frequently asked questions to cover all the bases.
Can I use glasses wipes on camera lenses?
Yes! Glasses wipes are a great alternative to a soft microfiber cloth. Glasses wipes are designed with friendly products that won’t damage the lens of your camera or the glass in your glasses. If they have any special liquid solution. Be sure to double-check what the ingredients are. You can never be too sure when cleaning your camera lens.
How to clean camera lens without lens cleaner
A liquid cleaner is always the best way to get rid of smudges. But if you don’t have any handy, you can still use the blower, the soft-bristled brush, and a microfiber cloth to wipe down the camera lens. You may not be able to get up smudges right away but it can help in some cases. But don’t be surprised if sometimes the smudge spreads. Without liquid cleaner, this is a possibility.