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How to Clean Binoculars: Lens, Exterior, and Interior Best Practices

How to Clean Binoculars: Lens, Exterior, and Interior Best Practices

We’ve all seen it happen—someone pulls out a pair of binoculars, breathes onto them, and cleans the lenses with the inside of a t-shirt. While this is cringe-worthy to those who use binoculars regularly, many do not realize that this action can cause damage.

By following proper cleaning techniques you can get the most out of your investment. When looking to ensure clear, long-lasting images, learning how to clean binoculars goes a long way.

How to Clean Binocular Lenses

The best way to maintain clean binoculars is to not clean them at all—or rather, as infrequently as possible. While this sounds counterproductive, regular cleaning can cause more damage to the lenses and coatings than intended.

However, there will be times that the binoculars need to be cleaned to harness that incredible view while on a nature adventure. For preventative care and cleaning, we've put together this comprehensive guide so binocular users can clean the lenses and body properly for ultimate usage. When getting started, ensure the proper tools are procured:

  • Lens pen or canned air
  • Cleaning cotton or microfiber cloth
  • Lens cleaning solution, water, or kit

These tools should never be used to clean binoculars:

  • Clothing items
  • Toilet paper or paper towel
  • Windex or other household cleaners
  • Dish soap and detergent

Once the tools are ready, it’s time to begin the cleaning process. Here’s our advice on how to extend the life of binoculars for future use.

Step 1: Read the Manual

Before cleaning, it’s important to thoroughly read the user’s manual to discover if the manufacturer recommends particular tools or chemicals. While oftentimes thrown in the trash without much thought, the manual will describe what not to use as many binoculars have different lens coatings with varying reactions to cleaning solutions. Binoculars are no small expense, so using the wrong chemical can damage the lenses beyond repair and cost the user a new set.

Step 2: Remove Any Dirt or Dust

Hold the binoculars upside down and use a lens cleaning pen’s bristles to loosen any light material, then use some canned air to carefully blow off the loosened dirt. If using canned air, ensure the product provides short bursts of air and not use it too close as it can frost up the lens.

While it’s tempting to use a microfiber cloth to clean off dust, this can cause microscopic scratches that will cause the images to be cloudy over time. Similarly, avoid breathing onto the lens as this can create water spots that will be difficult to clean when dry. By not using the correct cleaning utensil, the EXO Barrier™ coating can become compromised which provides superior resolution and light transmission.

Step 3: Apply Cleaning Solution

Using a cotton swab with water or a cleaning solution, gently wipe away any remaining dirt. It's important to not pour the solution directly onto the lenses because it can seep into the internal components of the binoculars and cause damage. If the binoculars are waterproof, gently run a light stream of water over the lenses to remove excess grime. Do not store binoculars until fully dry.

Avoid using window or glass cleaner on the binoculars because these products often include chemicals that can damage the integrity of the lenses. Before applying any sort of cleaning solution to the lenses, it’s crucial to consult the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid damage.

Step 4: Use a Cloth

Once all dirt is removed, use the lens pen pad or lens cloth to wipe away any remaining smudges. Apply very little pressure and work in a circular motion to consistently clean the lenses.

Verify that this cloth is contained in a clean environment so more dirt is not added on the lenses in this cleaning process. While it’s tempting to clean binoculars with the nearest fabric of choice, avoid using clothing items and paper towel. These materials contain fibers that will leave scratches on the lenses that could remove the coatings.

How to Clean the Binocular Body

Besides the lenses, the binocular's body components go through a lot of turmoil. Between sticky fingers and unpredictable weather—several things can affect the cleanliness of the exterior and the rubber eyecups of the binoculars.

How to Clean the Exterior of Binoculars

Cleaning the exterior is the easiest part of the whole process, but should be done routinely to keep the binoculars in ideal condition. Take a soft, damp cloth and wipe down the body to remove any excess dirt and dust.

How to Clean the Inside of Binoculars

Word of wise—if wondering how to clean inside Bushnell binoculars—don’t. Dismantling binoculars can ruin the optical alignment and should only be trusted to a professional. Tackling this will void the manufacturer’s warranty and leave the binoculars vulnerable to scratches, bacteria, and dirt.

If it’s necessary to clean the interior, use a lens-specific cleaning solution and cloth to ensure no damage occurs. When dismantling binoculars, start by unscrewing the cap to reveal the focus mechanism, removing the eyepieces, and taking off the cover plate to expose the prisms. Remove the bottom plate to clean the inside of the objective lenses. Note: Many binoculars have tiny screws that will need to be reinstalled exactly as found.

How to Clean the Rubber Eyecups on Binoculars

Overt time, the stick rubber on binoculars may become sticky or rough due to general use. However, this material can be easily cleaned or scraped away depending on the damage. Gently use a cleaning solution or water and rub the damaged area until clean.

Best Practices on How to Maintain Clean Binoculars

Maintaining clean binoculars is crucial when trying to soak in all that nature has to offer. However, following regular maintenance and best practices ensures the cleaning sessions will be less frequent so our users can get back to watching birds, enjoying natural landscapes, and more with a crystal-clear image.

  • Don’t over clean: While tempting to remove every speck of dust off the lenses, this will cause more damage in the long-run.
  • Avoid fingerprints: To keep lenses pristine, evade touching the lenses—especially with dirty fingers—to reduce the chances of smudges.
  • Use the lens cap: As the best way to keep lenses protected against disaster, the lens caps should be on at all times when not in use.
  • Accessorize: If binoculars begin feeling heavy, purchase a shoulder harness instead of dangling them. This will help avoid more dirt and dust accumulating on the lenses.
  • Storage: When not in use, store the binoculars in a clean, dry bag to protect against dust in the car or house.

Keep Lenses Grime-Free for Pristine Images

For nature enthusiasts, learning how to clean binoculars is crucial to enjoying the experience and understanding the surrounding environment. Maintaining clear optics can be completed in a few simple steps, but it’s important to not over clean the lenses and use the correct materials to ensure future damage does not continue.

Are you looking to purchase a new pair of binoculars? As the leader in the world’s most trusted optics, Bushnell supplies a wide variety of binoculars to fit anyone’s needs. Check them out today!

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