You’re out on a shoot, you accidentally touch the front element of your lens so you take a closer look. You see that there’s dust and some small, weird dead bug on there too; what do you do? The one action many of us would probably take is wiping the glass with the T-shirt or clothing we’re wearing. It’s quick, gets the job done, and you can go on about your way, but is it really safe? Join us after the break to find out.
A photographer recently asked the Reddit Photography community a lens cleaning question. “Can I just clean the lens with my shirt that is made of cotton?” As you can imagine, the user got a lot of conflicting advice in regards to this, and while it it may be okay to do this in an extreme emergency, it’s always best to clean your lenses with super soft microfiber cloths, blowers, Isopropyl alcohol, Q-Tips and soft bristled brushes.
Whats the big deal you ask? Well there are actually several things that can happen if you don’t treat your lenses correctly. The glass that makes up the front element is incredibly fragile, and it can get scratched quite easily. Over time, if you’re using a T-Shirt (even if it’s cotton), or other pieces of clothing to clean the glass you will likely end up scratching the lens. Some materials have abrasive qualities to them, and if used repeatedly, you’ll end up with faint circular scratches. It may take a while for them to show up, but they will eventually, and then you’ll just be sad; we don’t want that.
You’ll also find that clothing will leave behind pieces of lint and fibers which can be a royal pain to remove as they stick like glue sometimes. At the end of the day it’s always best to treat your equipment with the care that it deserves.
You’ve spent a ton on money investing in great glass, so it’s really worth it to invest in a lens cleaning kit that you can stick in your camera bag. That way if you ever get a case of fat fingers while out on a shoot, or if a bug becomes suicidal and flies headfirst into your glass, you’ll be able to clean it off quickly and safely. Then you can just go on about your business knowing that your glass is in good shape.
If you would like to know more about how to clean and care for your lenses, check out our short lens cleaning tutorial. It’s well worth spending the time learning how to clean your gear the right way. Treat your equipment right, learn all you can about lens cleaning, and and your camera lenses will last you a lifetime.