How Do You Clean A Camera Lens? – A Guide

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A camera is a beautiful thing, a chance to capture a moment in time, to keep forever. At Vintage Cash Cow, we simply adore old cameras and often muse about what wonderful images that they must have seen through their years.

Unfortunately, cameras, like many other vintage things, can collect unwanted dust, dirt, and grime during their lifetime. Having a dirty camera lens is a real pain. And it’s not just frustrating when taking pictures, it adds extra hassle when it comes to editing them too (if you’re into that sort thing).

[Picture of a camera lens with dirt on it]

If not dealt with immediately, the dirt on your camera lens can escalate and, in some scenarios, even result in you having to ditch your old lens and buy a new one.

We’re here today with a handy guide to help you learn how to clean a camera lens and avoid these kind of problems.

What To Clean A Camera Lens With?

First things first, we should mention that there are a lot of different parts of your camera. Each part has its own special requirements when it comes to cleaning – from the viewfinder to the film compartment, from mirrors to lens elements, bodies and mounts.

In today’s guide, we’re going to focus on the best way to clean a camera lens.

So, what do you clean a camera lens with? There are quite a few different options, and your choice will probably depend on the cost of the lens, how dirty the lens is and your level of expertise.

[Picture of camera cleaning kit]

It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t clean your camera lens unless it really needs it. Cameras are delicate pieces of equipment, and lenses are often specially coated with chemicals during production to improve their optical performance and even reduce the need for cleaning.

Too frequent cleaning – or using the wrong chemicals – can result in these coatings getting damaged or removed, meaning your lens will be more susceptible to lens flare, low contrast, scratches, and smears.

Remember – always store your camera lens in a camera bag with the lens cap on to minimise any potential damage.

Air Blower Camera Cleaning

If you have a very fancy and expensive lens, you might consider purchasing a camera cleaning air blower. As the name suggests, these clever bits of kit will simply try to blow dust specks and dirt fragments off your lens.

[Picture of an air blower]

Be aware though, in the case of an SLR camera the dirt may actually be on the mirror, not on the lens itself. Camera mirrors are very delicate and expensive to replace, and dirt on the mirror will unfortunately still affect your image quality.

To get to the mirror, hidden inside, you will need to first remove the lens. There’s a lot of delicate internal parts here, and it’s an enclosed space so the chance of damaging something or simply blowing dust further into your camera is quite high.

We’ll cover cleaning camera internals in-depth on another blog post.

How To Clean A Camera Lens Without A Kit?

Even if you don’t want to fork out on an expensive lens cleaning kit, you can still purchase a couple of the most useful items separately. Buying lens cleaning solution and a special camera cleaning cloth will aid your lens cleaning efforts.

There are many chemical lens cleaners available to buy and you should take care to buy the one that’s right for your camera. Some lens cleaners might not be suitable for your particular lens or equipment, and the wrong one can do more harm than good. We strongly recommend that you read all of your lens manufacturer’s instruction booklet first, before deciding which one will be right for you.

[Picture of lens cleaning solution]

Once you’ve purchased a suitable lens cleaning solution, follow the instructions as directed on the bottle, taking care not to make any streaks as you clean. That’s where your camera cleaning cloth will come in handy.

Tip – A helpful hint to avoid spreading more dust onto the lens as you wipe it is to keep your cleaning cloths in a clean, airtight container. Remember to shake them thoroughly to remove any trapped dust particles first, each time you use them.

How To Clean A Camera Lens Without Lens Cleaner?

If you don’t want to use lens cleaner then there are some alternatives that you might already have in your cupboards at home. Cleaning your camera lens with alcohol is an option, but before you start breaking open the brandy, we’re talking about isopropyl or rubbing alcohol here. You don’t have to worry about depleting your drinks cabinet! Use a cotton swab or microfibre cloth dipped in the alcohol and rub it in a circular motion until all of the dirt and grime has gone.

[Picture of isopropyl alcohol]

You might be considering using some other common household products like glass or window cleaner to buff up your lens. Our advice is don’t! And the same goes for acetone. While these things can be good cleaners of other surfaces, when used on cameras they can have harmful effects on key areas of your camera, such as the plastic, metal and paint parts. It isn’t worth trying to save money, just to have to spend even more on a new lens. Stick to dedicated lens-cleaning solutions, alcohol, or simply use deionised water.

Hint – It’s worth remembering that cleaning the lens doesn’t always mean just the glass bit, the whole of the lens can get pretty dirty and grimy with use – especially if you’ve been lucky enough to be out shooting at exotic locations!

Cleaning Fungus In Camera Lenses

If your lens is not just dirty and you’re worried that your camera might have a case of the dreaded fungus, then hop over to our comprehensive “fungus cleaning” guide:

Camera lens fungus – A guide

Camera Cleaning Alternatives

If all said and done, the above seems like a bit too much hard work, or you’re worried about damaging and devaluing your lens, then why not sell your lenses and cameras to us?

At Vintage Cash Cow we buy cameras and lenses in any condition. Because we have a dedicated network of photography enthusiasts and collectors at our fingertips, we’re able to give you a great price for you old used and vintage photography equipment. And you can rest easy that your old photo apparatus will be lovingly restored and recycled by a devoted shutterbug.

But it’s not just vintage lenses that we buy. We buy all manner of photography equipment and paraphernalia, from cameras themselves to light meters and tripods. Plus don’t forget to stick in any old camera bags, boxes and instructions manuals that came with your stuff, as this will help increase the value of your offer.

[**Picture of VCC Team & a table of old Cameras]

While you’re at it, why not add some more unused items cluttering up your home? We buy a whole range of household items, from candlesticks to copper, and from toys to timepieces. The more you send us, the more money you’ll make.

For further information about our simple, safe, Freepost service and to request your free guide, follow the link below or speak to one of our friendly team today – they’re waiting for your call. Remember, if you don’t like our quote, we’ll send your stuff back free of charge, no questions asked. There’s nothing to lose and so much to gain!

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