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Don’t use your t-shirt to wipe off your lens

AKA How to clean your camera lens the right way

We know how it is, your out taking pictures & you notice some dust on your lens. The only thing soft that you have is….your t-shirt….STOP right there. Do NOT use your t-shirt to clean your lens. Most photographers have done it at some point and many times you can get away with it but there is always a chance that you will damage your lens if you try. Because of this, it is imperative that you start carrying the right cleaning materials with you or wait until you get home to clean it. The health of your lens is more important than just about any picture. If you don’t want to destroy the coating on your lens, stay away from t-shirts and use the proper equipment for cleaning your lens.

Why you shouldn’t clean your lens with your t-shirt

T-shirts are a terrible item to use for cleaning your lens. It doesn’t matter what the t-shirt is made of, cotton, polyester…it doesn’t matter, it’s not a good idea.

Reason #1: T-shirts don’t clean that well, they just move dirt around or even worse create smudges.

Reason #2: If you are wearing said t-shirt it is very likely that it has accumulated dust and debris during the day. When you try to clean with it it’s very possible that you will be transfering that dust and debris to your already dirty lens.

Reason #3: T-shirt fabric is too harsh. So is toilet paper, bath towels, newspaper and napkins. All of these can create micro-scratches on your lens’ coating which is unrepairable for most people as coating lenses is a very expensive and sensitive process.

How to clean your lens the right way

Lens cleaning isn’t difficult. The easiest and cheapest way is to use a dampened micro-fiber cloth and lens cleaner. Micro-fiber cloths are lint-free & trap dust & debris instead of just moving it around. Lens cleaner is specifically formulated to be streak free. Look for a microfiber cloth that is made out of polyester because the polyester is typically softer than the lens coating so they are less likely to damage your lens coating. We recommend either a 80% polyester and 20% polamide or 70% polyester and 30% polyamide for lens cleaning.

What about cleaning while on location. While out in the field, you can ensure that your micro-fiber cloth hasn’t picked up dirt by folding it so that the areas you are going to use to clean with are on the inside. An alternative would be to get pre-packaged len’s wips like Zeiss lens wipes. Because you use these once and they are self-contained you can be sure they are debris free and you don’t have to carry around a bottle of lens cleaner with you.

One thing to note, keep your lens keeping to a minimum – some lens coatings, especially on older lenses can be damaged more easily so the less you clean your lens the better.

Have you ever damaged your lens while trying to clean it? Share your tips below to help others avoid the pain!


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