Photography Cheat Sheet: How to Clean Your Camera Lens

Keeping your camera lens free of dust or fingerprints is important, but there’s a right way to clean it.

Cleaning dust, fingerprints, or smudges on a camera lens is something every photographer must be able to do properly and regularly. But, it’s not as simple as wiping it with just any cloth or cleaning agents. Great care is required so the lens elements don’t get scratched or damaged. Today’s featured photography cheat sheet has some great tips to help us keep our precious glass properly cleaned and maintained.

While a professional lens cleaning service would be ideal — especially for the most expensive lenses — photographers should be able to do some manual cleaning on their own as part of gear upkeep. However, in order to avoid accidentally scratching the lens or nicking the coating, keep in mind there’s a proper way to do this, as shown in the infographic below by BorrowLenses.

First, the tools you need to clean your lens include; lens blower, lens brush, cleaning tissue/cloth/pre-moistened wipes, and cleaning fluid. Use these and only these when you find dust, stains, or smudges on your lens that you want to clean.

Make sure you use the blower before any of the other tools. Clear it of possible dust with a few puffs away from the lens. Then, hold it close to the lens without touching it on the glass so you don’t blow any airborne particles onto it. Blow a few puffs across the surface of the lens then check if it’s clear of dust.

You might want to clean up any of the spots you missed by using a brush with soft and fine bristles so your lens doesn’t get scratched. For smudges, you can follow this up with your lens cleaning tissues. cloths, or wipes, preferably sprayed with the cleaning fluid.

Now, for some don’ts. Don’t blow onto the lens with your mouth as you may transfer saliva and condensation onto the lens. Likewise, don’t use air compressors and freon-powered air cans. Also, don’t wipe your lens with other items like your shirt, tissue paper, or other cloths. Make sure you don’t wash the cleaning wipes or cloths with fabric softener, as it can leave chemical residue and streaks on the glass. Don’t jam the brush on the lens, and make sure you don’t touch the bristles on anything but the lens. Lastly, never use cleaning fluid that is mostly detergent and water, and don’t spray it directly on the lens.

Need more useful tips and tricks like this? We have loads more photography cheat sheets for you to check out!