How to clean the camera lens

In this article we’re talking about how to properly clean DSLR camera lens so you don’t damage it.

If you want to take good pictures, the most important thing is having clean lenses. Even a small speck of dust or thumb print on your camera lens can result in a crappy picture. And there is no coming back from that.

First prep your workbench. Remove all the clutter so you don’t damage something by accident because it got in the way.

Let’s get into cleaning camera lenses.

I’m gonna break this down into four steps. We’ll go in depth for each step. Important thing, don’t skip steps, you’ll find out why below.

1. Inspecting camera lens

Now when it comes to cleaning lenses, there is one thing you need to know. The more that you clean it, there is more potential that you could scratch it. Or you could ruin it in some way.

So if your lens doesn’t need cleaning, don’t clean it.

This is why we’re doing the inspection step.

Camera lenses are glass and you want to keep them as nice as possible.

You definitely do want to clean them if there’s any sort of issues with it, if there’s any smudges, if there’s any dust on it.

So the first thing you want to do is inspect your lenses and you want to see if they’re clean or not.

Some of the things on your lens will be noticeable. But what you need to do is take each in your hand, and look at it closely. I highly suggest using a light. An overhead light would do just fine. Move it around so the light reflects from the lens. You’ll clearly see what’s going on and if there is any dirt, dust or thumbprint on it.

Don’t focus only on the front element, spin it around. Open up the back cover. Look in there. The thing that could really ruin a shoot is a giant thumbprint right there on the back of your lens.

So you have to inspect both the back elements, the front elements and you have to check filters as well. If you’re using them. Because any dirt between the object which you’re shooting and your sensor will create issues.

If you didn’t find anything to clean, good! Put the cover on your camera lens and put it to the side. Don’t clean it up if you don’t need to.

Move to the next element, whether that is another DSLR camera lens or a filter. If you see something on it, proceed to step 2.

2. Cleaning dust off your camera lens

Let’s first get rid of the dust. That’s important to do before taking care of any sort of smudges.

So this is an air blower.

air blower for cleaning camera lens

These are cheap, they’re a few bucks. What it does is it forces air out and it will get the dust off. I highly suggest getting a blower, it’s gonna make the world of a difference when it comes to getting rid of dust. This is on me every time I go out to shoot no matter what it is. It’s light and doesn’t take much space, so it’s always in my bag.

Even if I’m just going out with friends to go shoot just some fun video. I always bring an air blower because there’s always something that gets on my lens. It’s easy to (air blowing) blow it off real quick.

And that’s it.

So, get a blower.

The other thing that you could use is a brush.

I have this one, it’s really small, this also comes with me everywhere.

brush for cleaning camera lens

I use a brush if a piece of dust isn’t coming off after trying with a blower. Then I brush it off.

These won’t hurt your lens either. Of course, you can’t just use any brush. It needs to be a soft one. I recommend using only those that are made specifically for cleaning camera lenses.

But I highly suggest always starting with the blower. Because you’re using air versus this is physically touching your lens. You want to touch your lens as little as possible.

So you blew air on your lens, you brushed your lens. There’s still some smudges on it.

Let’s go to step 3.

3. Cleaning lens with a rag or a cloth

Let’s take care of those smudges.

Take your lens and first look at it in the light. And really spin the lens around. You wanna see what is going on, make sure that there’s not something you’re missing. Identify where the smudges are.

For something very small and light, you can just take your lens cloth, do a little circular motion and it will be gone.

The key here is circular motions. You don’t want to wipe across. You start in the middle and you work your way out.

Now for anything that’s tougher, you gotta use a solution that will help get it off. I use the Pancro, it’s a professional lens cleaning solution, this stuff is invaluable.

cleaning solution to clean camera lens

Spray the camera lens cleaning solution on your cleaning cloth. Not on your lens.

And then, like I was saying, you want to do circular motions. So you start in the center and you work your way out.

Why circular motion? When you use circular motion it actually causes less streaks than going straight across. Never go straight across.

The idea is that we want this to be as clean as possible. So you’re gonna start in the middle of your camera lens with a moist part of your cleaning cloth. And work your way out.

If this did not get rid of the smudges, you can repeat this.

It’s better to repeat this step than to apply pressure to clean it off. Let the solution do it’s thing.

The idea is that we’re trying to do the most minimally invasive work on the lens to get it as clean as possible. Without actually damaging the lens. Because as you know, lenses can get very expensive very fast.

The last part of cleaning your camera lens is to protect it.

4. Protecting your DSLR camera lens

Always keep your lens cap on. Never just let it sit here open, dust could fall on it. Or you could accidentally touch it. Always keep your lens caps on.

Another way to protect your camera lens is to always keep a filter on. A clear UV filter, on the front element of your lens. That way, there’s no chance of anything getting in the actual lens itself. Or a ND filter. They are doing the same thing basically, protecting your lens.

So if a filter gets dirty, you need to clean only the filter.

And that’s the whole idea.

The less that we actually touch the lens, the better. Because this is the more expensive part of the whole setup rather than the filters that go in front.

If you don’t use any elements in front of your lens yet, I highly suggest that you start using them.

uv filter for protecting camera lens

Get UV filters, they’re super cheap. They’re a good way to protect your lens. Especially when you’re in a situation where things could get really dirty. Like when you travel, in a crowd or just out in nature.

Protect your filters as well. Use filter cases, these are great to hold all your filters, dust can’t get in. You can’t accidentally smudge it with your fingers and so on.

That’s it, four simple steps to keeping your DSLR camera lenses clean.