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How to Clean Binoculars

Keep your binoculars in tip top condition with our guide to keeping them looking and performing like new. 

how to clean binoculars

Binoculars aren’t cheap, and that means that you need to do everything you can to look after them, so they last you over time. Having to buy a new set is not going to do anything for your budget. Of course, this being an in-depth piece of kit, there are special ways for maintaining binoculars; you can’t just clean them any old way!

Put simply, by properly cleaning your binoculars and looking after them with care, you can extend their life. This doesn’t just mean cleaning the outside, it means looking after the lenses and their coatings, and to make sure you do your best to avoid scratches, which can sometimes be bad enough to break them. You should also try your best to keep your binoculars away from water and other liquids, especially chemicals.

The good news is that there isn’t a huge amount of variation when it comes to cleaning binoculars, and one size often fits all. Having said that, it’s always a good idea to check into the manufacturer’s instructions which should have come with your purchase, to be on the safe side.

Why you need to look after your lenses and coatings

Most types of binoculars these days come with lenses which have a special coating over them. You will still find some binoculars that don’t have coatings, but these tend to waste a small amount of the light which hits the lens; this is a waste because as you know, binoculars themselves work because of light refraction, and also because of light transmission (if you’re curious about how they work then read our article on this subject).

So, we’ve established that coatings are good things, but did you know that they can also help to avoid dust and other debris from building up on the lenses themselves? This is a great way to ensure that you’re maintaining your binocular properly, so always make sure that these are in place.

How to clean binoculars properly

It doesn’t matter what you use your binoculars for, they are generally cleaned and maintained in much the same way. If you fail to do this, you could damage your lenses, and you could also break the outer compartments of the binoculars, which will mean they are basically unusable for whatever endeavor you use them for.

Let’s go through how to clean binoculars in quick and easy steps.

Wipe away dust and other dirt

First, you should handle the easy stuff – when it comes to binocular maintenance this is the most important thing! You should wipe away any loose dust, and any other debris which has built up, such as leaves or mud. If you leave this, over time it will erode away the coatings on lenses, and it will cause scratches on the outer casing of your binoculars. You may also end up not being able to see through the binoculars well.

You can remove this loose debris very easily. All you need is a small brush, but make sure it isn’t brittle and has a soft feel to it. First, gently blow on the lenses, as this will get rid of a lot of it, and then gently dust away the dust. You should also tip your binoculars upside down and give them a very gentle shake, to loosen any stubborn dust or dirt.

Use a cotton wool pad to reach the stubborn dirt and wipe the lens

Next, you need to tackle the more stubborn dust and dirt that may have worked its way inside the lenses or the casing. You will need a cotton wool pad for this, which you should slightly dampen with water, or you can use a cleaning solution specifically designed for lenses (a camera shop will have just what you’re looking for). Be careful not to soak the cotton wool pad too much, and make sure that you use a solution that is designed to be used on coated lenses, and not one for laptop or tablet screens.

Gently wipe the lens to remove grime, and never be tempted to pour the solution directly onto the lens – a big no-no! Be careful not to press on the lens too much. If you see any smudges that aren’t moving, you should use slightly firmer (only slightly) circulation movements, which start in the middle and work outwards. This should do the trick.

It’s really that simple. If you find that your binoculars are becoming dirty on the outside, you simply need to wipe them down with a very slightly moistened cloth, or a baby wipe. Never use anything which is chemical based, or anything which contains acetone. This is a key part of maintaining binoculars.

To Summarize:

  • Never apply too much pressure, and always be gentle
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions, just to check for any anomalies with that particular brand
  • When removing dirt and dust, only ever use a soft brush, a cotton wool pad, a lens tissue or cloth which is specifically designed for binoculars or lenses which have coatings on them
  • Try not to blow or breathe on the lenses to clean them, as this will simply make them worse
  • Clean the outer casing of the binoculars with a soft cloth, or a very gentle baby wipe, provided you’re not going close to the inner workings or lenses themselves
  • Remove the eye cap or the eyecup when you’re doing any cleaning
  • Only clean or perform binocular maintenance when it is required, and not too often

As you can see, cleaning binoculars isn’t a truly difficult thing to do, and the way to do it is quite simple once you know what you’re doing. Binocular maintenance is about ensuring they don’t need cleaning too often in the first place, so try and invest in a rain cover if you can and do your best to keep your binocular away from excessive dust, or any muddy conditions. This should ensure that maintaining binoculars isn’t a very common occurrence.


If you’re curious about the binocular cues that give us depth perception then don’t miss our latest article!

We’ve also just posted an amazing guide to spotting scopes.

There’s lots more coming at Stealthy Ninjas over the next few weeks and months so don’t be a stranger!

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