How to clean your camera lens to keep it as good as new

How to clean your camera lens
No matter what you shoot or where you do it, it’s inevitable your camera lens will, at some point, become dirty enough to warrant a cleaning. To ensure your lenses stay in tip-top shape, we’re going to run through how to clean your camera lens with the attention to detail it deserves. After all, a well-maintained lens could last a lifetime.

Cleaning the front and rear elements

First, you want to clean the front and rear elements of the lenses. For obvious reasons, these two optical elements are the most likely to get dirty when shooting day-to-day, the front element in particular. Before opting for a traditional cleaning cloth, however, what you’ll want to do is use a blower bulb. We suggest the Giotto Rocket Blaster, as it’s an age-old tool used by photographers around the world for decades. Using a blower bulb helps to gently remove any dust or dirt on your lens that would otherwise be ground into the glass when wiping it with a cloth.

how we test digital cameras fujifilm finepix s1 lens 1500x1000

Once you’ve finished blowing off the element, you’re going to want to obtain a microfiber cloth and cleaning solution. Microfiber cloths vary in terms of texture and quality, so be sure to find one that doesn’t leave behind any unwanted fuzzies. Also, when using the cleaning solution in conjunction with the cloth, avoid spraying the solution directly on the optical elements. Instead, spray the solution on the cloth and wipe accordingly. If there are streaks left behind, use a dry section of the microfiber cloth to ensure a clean surface.

Cleaning the outside of lens

You might not find yourself cleaning the outside of your lens often, but when you do, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it right. A microfiber cloth works wonders for getting dust and dirt off the outside of the lens, and for those times when you want to give your lens a deeper cleaning, a toothbrush is your best friend.

Fujifilm X-T1 camera lens macro

Specifically, get a soft-bristled toothbrush and, without any sort of liquid cleaner, brush across the surfaces and inside the crevices of your lens. The bristles on the brush should dislodge any dirt that might’ve built up between the focus and zoom rings.

Although many lenses claim to be “waterproof” or “weatherproof,” the truth is, no lens is completely protected from liquids. Because of this, we suggest you avoid using liquid cleaners on the barrel of your lens. If you do find it absolutely necessary to do so, remember to place the cleaning solution on the microfiber cloth — not on the lens directly.

Lens contacts

Newer lenses have electronic contacts on the lens mount that drive the focusing motor, the image stabilization setup (if present), and help transfer information about the image and lens to the camera body. For the most part, you should never have to worry about these contacts. In fact, it’s best to avoid cleaning them as much as possible, since they’re often made of sensitive metals.

Nikon 1 AW1 lens macro

But, in the event you’re getting a constant error code regarding the connection between the lens and the camera, your safest bet is to clean the camera with a standard pencil eraser. Make sure the eraser you’re using is made of a soft rubber, as certain erasers may contain abrasives that could scratch the contacts. Furthermore, ensure the lens is facing down so that shavings don’t find their way into the internal components of the lens. Again, only do this as a last-ditch effort.

Leave it to the pros

If you aren’t much of a do-it-yourselfer or you aren’t comfortable doing the steps mentioned above, then it’s possible you could accidentally damage a lens. In this instance, you should leave it to the professionals. Yes, it will cost you out of pocket, but if lens cleaning is something you do once in a while, then the money spent could be a sound investment.

Many specialty camera retailers will offer in-store lens cleaning. Even Best Buy offers such a service through its Geek Squad division. You can also check with your camera manufacturer’s customer service, which could direct you to the appropriate place for lens cleaning. If you live near one of Canon’s service centers, such as the one in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, you could even drop off a lens and have a Canon technician not only clean it, but diagnose it for possible problems.

Wrapping it up

Overall, keeping your lens working like a well-oiled machine shouldn’t take too much work once you have the required tools on hand. This is especially if you properly attach and remove it from your camera, adding both the front and rear lens caps.

If your lens has more profound problems than those mentioned in this article, or has a build up of dirt on the internal optical elements, your best bet is to contact your camera manufacturer about getting it professionally cleaned. Whether talking a manufacturer’s in-house service or that of a third party, taking care of gear is what these people do. And, trust us, it’s better to spend a couple hundred dollars having your shooter professionally cleaned than to try and do it yourself only to ruin an expensive lens.


Here are the best Amazon Prime Day photography deals (updated)

Amazon's biggest shopping day of the year is here, and if photography is your hobby, there are a few deals for you. From action cameras to accessories and photo-editing software, here are some of our favorite Prime Deals in 2018.

What does this button do? A quick guide to understanding your camera’s controls

Most DSLR cameras are user-friendly, but that doesn't mean you can make sense of every button on your own. Thankfully, our quick-hit guide will help you better acquaint yourself with your camera's operation.

Here’s how to turn off camera shutter sound on your Android phone

That clicking shutter sound on your Android phone can get annoying if you like to take lots of pictures. Fortunately, you can disable it. We will walk you through how to turn off the camera shutter sound on your Android phone.

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.

When you're ready to shoot seriously, these are the best DSLRs you can buy

For many photographers the DSLR is the go-to camera. With large selection of lenses, great low-light performance, and battery endurance, these DSLRs deliver terrific image quality for stills and videos.

Here's a few tips to getting the best camera gear on Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day will have plenty of deals, and that may include cameras and photo accessories. Before you drop cash on that camera, here are some things to consider that could save you time and money.

With flip-out lenses, the Vuze XR transforms from 360- to 180-degree VR camera

The Vuze XR is a compact, dual-lens camera with an integrated handle and a neat party trick: The back-to-back lenses can flip forward to transition from 360-degree two-dimensional video, to 180-degree three-dimensional video.

Check out the best iPhone 8 cases and covers you can buy so far

We go shopping for the best iPhone 8 cases and covers to protect your beloved device and achieve your ideal look. There are all kinds of different styles, finishes, and protection capabilities available.

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2018

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Home Theater

Here’s how to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow casting of anything on your mobile device to your TV. If you're wondering how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to a bigger screen, we've got an in-depth guide.
Smart Home

Our robo overlords are here to clean our living rooms: The best robot vacuums

Robot vacuums are a convenient way to tidy up your home and minimize your weekly to-do list. From a top-of-the-line model to a handy budget option, here are five of the best robot vacuums you can buy right now.
Home Theater

Don't wake the baby! How to connect headphones to a TV

Do you need to connect a pair of headphones to your TV? Our handy guide will show you how to hook up your headphones in a variety of ways, whether you're using wired headphones, wireless headphones, or gaming headsets.

Win a Blink camera home security starter set and protect your turf

If you want to protect your home from burglars or keep an eye on your pets, IP cams are the way to do it. We've teamed up with Blink to give one reader a Blink indoor camera starter set totally free.

Outfit the athlete in your life with one of the best gifts for runners

Shopping for a runner is no easy task, especially when your idea of a workout is walking from the kitchen to the couch. To help, we've sifted through the latest gadgets and gear to find the 11 best gifts for runners.

How to improve your Android privacy

If you have an Android device and you’re concerned about your privacy, then we have a few tips for you. Learn about the settings you can change to improve your Android privacy and safeguard your personal data.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Roll-up solar panels, dream controllers, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.

Photo FOMO: Fujifilm ramen, KodakCoin DOA, and Nikon’s secret sensor lab

In the latest photo industry news, Fujifilm released a limited-run of Provia-branded instant noodles, Kodak's Kashminer is DOA, and Imaging Resource looks inside the "super-secret" sensor lab at Nikon.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.

The top-selling digital photography book can be yours for free now

To celebrate their YouTube channel reaching a million subscribers, popular photography vloggers Tony and Chelsea Northrup have launched a limited-time free offer for their top-selling book.

Fujifilm announces ultra-wide 8-16mm f/2.8 and massive 200mm f/2 lenses

Two new premium lenses have joined Fujifilm's X Series, an ultra-wide zoom for landscapes and astrophotography and a fast telephoto prime for low-light sports and wildlife. At $2,000 and $6,000, both are decidedly made for professionals.