How to Clean Binoculars

Pair of Viking binoculars prepared for cleaning

In the course of everyday use, it's inevitable that binocular lenses will eventually pick up dirt and dust. Naturally, you'll want to keep them clean so you can get a clear image from them. However, it's also important that you clean them properly- otherwise, you could end up damaging the lenses. In this blog post, we'll take you through the right way to clean your binoculars, so you can enjoy many years of use from them.

Related: Top 10 Best Binoculars 2024

Before you start...

Before we begin, we should note that you should only clean your binoculars- or at least the lenses- when absolutely necessary. That might seem a bit counterintuitive, but there's a reason for this. Excessive cleaning can damage the lens coatings. Every time they are cleaned, there's a chance of the lenses getting scratched. You should also resist the urge to use your clothing or tissues to clean your binoculars. Of course, you can clean the outer casing whenever you need to!

Step-by-step instructions

First things first, have a read through the manual that came with your binoculars. These can often be pretty basic, and may not give you much in-depth information on how you should clean the binoculars. However, they will generally note if there are any particular chemicals which may damage the coating on the lenses. If this isn't mentioned anywhere, then it's probably best to stick with water instead of lens cleaner, just to be on the safe side.

To begin, you'll want to carefully remove any particles from the surface of the lenses. Even tiny bits of dirt can scratch lens coatings if they're rubbed into the lens. While those scratches may be microscopic, they can cause the image from your binoculars to become cloudy over time.

There are a few different ways of doing this. You can, of course, just blow on the lenses. However, the moisture in your breath can cause some particles to stick to the lens. Ideally, you should use a lens blower if you have one. Failing that, a very fine brush will also work well, and many lens cleaning kits come with one of these.

Next, take a cotton swab, lightly wet it, and gently wipe away and dirt that's still left on the lenses. You can use lens cleaner for this, but again, make sure that it doesn't contain any chemicals mentioned in your manual that can damage the lens coatings. If you've got a lens cleaning kit that includes wipes, then use one of these for this stage.

Once you're sure that you've removed as much surface debris as possible, you should then very carefully wipe the surface with a microfibre cloth. Many binoculars come with one of these- if yours didn't, or you've misplaced it, then we'd strongly recommend picking up another. You can easily get one for next to nothing, and they really do make a massive difference. Tilt the lenses towards the light to check you've got any streaks off them- then pop the lens caps back on so they stay nice and clean until you next use them!

Should I use a lens cleaning kit?

Many binocular brands also produce lens kits- for instance, here's one from Celestron. They generally come with a cloth, brush, lens cleaning fluid, and sometimes with disposable wipes as well. You can also use a camera cleaning kit for binoculars, since the process is much the same. Just check that the lens fluid doesn't contain any chemicals that could damage the coating.

Of course, you don't have to buy a lens kit. The only "specialist" equipment you really need is a very fine brush and a microfibre cloth. However, we've found that lens cleaning kits can be really handy to have. Most of them come in a cloth pouch that you can keep with your binoculars, and the Celestron one mentioned above even has a belt loop on the pouch.