While it may seem simple, there is actually an appropriate way to clean a camera lens. In fact, there are certain tools to use and certain ones to avoid to ensure that you are cleaning the lens without scratching any of the glass elements. In this article, we’ll share a couple nifty videos that we found that demonstrate how to clean a camera lens (and how to NOT do it).
How to Clean a Camera Lens
After several long months of saving your pennies and skipping your favorite Starbucks habit for far too long, you finally buy the lens you’ve been eyeballing on B&H. Holding the new lens in your hand is as magical as you imagined it to be. Then there comes a day when you have to clean this fragile thing of beauty and you grab the edge of your t-shirt…
Stop right there. DO NOT clean your lenses with your shirt. Instead, there are better, safer and more effective ways to get it done. For example, the following video gives an in-depth look at how to clean your camera lens with minimal risks. The 7-minute video below is a few years old, but is still a helpful guide to cleaning your lens properly.
In this lens cleaning method, Evan Luzi from the Youtube channel, The Black and Blue, uses the following items:
- Maglite Mini Flashlight (or look into a headlamp)
- Cleaning Fluid (He uses Pancro)
- Lens Cleaning Tissue (He uses Kimwipes)
- Compressed air, bulb blower, or brush (He uses Dust-Off)
For more lens cleaning product recommendations and tips, check out our list of the Best Camera Lens Cleaners.
Here’s a quick outline of the tips included in the video on how to clean a camera lens. We recommend laying out all of your cleaning products for easy access before beginning the cleaning process:
- Remove the lens from the camera (especially when using fluid to clean it)
- Examine the lens with a flashlight to identify the extent of the dirty areas
- Test the air spray bottle to make sure no unwanted chemicals come out
- Spray the lens with the air duster
- Reexamine the lens with a flashlight to check progress
- Fold up the recommended cleaning cloth into a quarter of its original size
- Hold the cloth about 2-3″ from the cleaning fluid and then spray the fluid in a downward swipe. One to two sprays should do it. Never spray the lens fluid on the lens itself.
- Wipe the lens with tiny circular motions and apply only a slight amount of pressure
- Flip the cloth to the dry side and wipe the lens again using the same circular motion
- Examine the lens for any remaining dirt or smudges and repeat the process above
- When the lens is clean, place the lens caps back on the lens and/or return it to the camera
For more photography and filmmaking tips for camera assistants, check out the Black and Blue blog here.
How NOT to Clean a Camera Lens and Camera
As a bonus, here’s a funny video we found from Ioannis Pavlis on how to clean a camera lens, or rather how not to do it. Please note, the technique demonstrated in the video is a joke. You should never clean your camera or lenses this way. You know you’re in trouble if all you need is a bowl of water and some soap. This should become especially clear when you’re told to get a good amount on the sensor and make sure you rub it in with your fingers really well to get that soap working. Just know, when it comes to knowing how to clean a camera lens, look a little further than the basic lather, rinse, repeat. Also, the only time you should submerge your very expensive camera in water is when it is safely encased in underwater camera housing, like the Aquatec.
I’m going to venture a guess that the camera and lens used in the video above were probably not in working order after the cleansing. If you follow the tips on how to clean a camera lens outlined in the first video, you should be good to go. Do your research on the products you use and remember that a little care goes a long way. Don’t chance ruining your expensive gear with cheap cleaning products and poor technique.