How to clean a camera lens


Dust from a camera is inevitable and difficult to avoid. The dust ends up on the lenses and therefore requires to be cleaned as soon as possible. However, there are other substances that may get in your camera, these include: food, oil from your fingers, or any other substance that may be picked outside might ultimately find its way into the camera. Some of these substances like dust may be harmless and unnoticeable and would not have any effects on the photos. This means that some substances may stand out more. The lens should be cleaned when necessary. When dust and stain are noticed in the lens and cleaning should be done, the following methods are favourable and minimise the risk of destroying the camera.

  • Use a blower to remove dust
  • Use a lens brush
  • Spray lens with lens cleaning fluid
  • Cleaning technique
  • Cleaning on the go

Use a blower to remove dust

This should be the first option for cleaning dust off the camera lens. It is the safest method and least likely to make your camera worse. If the camera contains some dust, the blower will be the only thing that is needed to get it clean. A natural instinct of using your own breath should be avoided because it can introduce saliva and a bit of condensation onto the lens. The blower is supposed to be used before any other method. The blower should also be cleared from any dust first by squeezing it several puffs away from the lens. However, air compressors should not be used because they can drip oil thus causing damages to the lens. Freon-powered air cans should also not be used since they can also cause condensation. It is therefore advisable to buy larger blower which tends to be more effective than a small blower.

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Use a lens brush

If the blower didn’t do a good job, then a lens brush should be next. Brushes are made of different materials and therefore they vary. Brushes made of camel hair are preferred since they are fine and soft thus they prevent damage. Brushes are regarded as riskier than blowers since they can pick substances if not handled carefully.

The brush should not be touched with fingers so as to prevent oils from getting into them. They should be kept capped to stay clean all the time. If oils stick on the brush, it may be difficult to remove and when such brush is used it can damage the lens thus making it difficult to remove from the lenses.

There is an original brush which has been popularized for its features which boosts its effectiveness. These brushes slide out for use and slide back in after use to stay clean. The other side contains a carbon-soaked polishing tip which is used to clean oil either from fingerprints and other sources thus keeping the lens secures from damage.

Hama Cleaning Pen For Camera Lens and Filter Cleaning
  • Highly efficient and gentle cleaning of all optical surfaces, especially for camera lenses and filters: removes dust, grease stains, fingerprints and other dirt
  • 2-phase cleaning: soft lens brush for rough preliminary cleaning without scratching, curved velvet surface with special fibers for particularly thorough cleaning and removal of streaks (special carbon powder dissolves and binds grease and dirt)
  • Particularly durable, as no liquid can dry out during dry cleaning, brush can be retracted into the housing for protection, velvet pad with protective cap (rotary fastener activates fibers automatically)
  • Ergonomically shaped, compact pen shape with holder, special coating for high-quality optics, ideal for taking with you in your camera bag, pen length: 11.5 cm, cleaning tip diameter: 1.3 cm
  • Immediately ready for use as the screw closure ensures automatic activation of the velvety surface, no need to activate the fibers separately

Spray lens with lens cleaning fluid

These are basically alcohol-based cleaners that are used to clean lenses without streaking and tend to evaporate quickly so as to protect the gear. Cleaning fluid can be used with microfiber cloths and cleaning tissues. Facial tissues should be avoided since they can cause scratches. Some people tend to dislike the method since it leaves streaking thus a cloth is used which poses its own risk. Where streaking appears, the cleaning fluid should be reapplied and re-wiping should be done. A dust-free option should be used and only cleaning fluid made of denatured alcohol which should be used. It is however not advisable to spray directly onto the cleaning area since it can get into the lens and can cause damage to the lens.

Wipe lens using a lens cleaning paper tissue

This method is the safest and the cheapest for cleaning. The tissue sheet should be used once and later discarded. Microfiber lens cleaning cloths can also be used since they are the most effective way to clean smudges. They are more expensive than paper tissue since they can be used more than one time after they are washed. However, they are trickier to maintain. Reusing them poses the risk of trapping something in the cloth thus dragging it across the lens. This leaves a scratch on the lens. They should be kept sealed in plastic bags so as to prevent further contamination. However, tissue papers, t-shirts, and paper towels should not be used to clean the lens.

Cleaning technique

Wiping should be done in concentric circles. This reduces the occurrence of streaking thus working across the lens. Wiping from the centre moves the debris to the edges of the lens thus the objects do not get removed from the lens. It is, however, important to use appropriate cleaning technique which enhances effectiveness. Enough pressure should be applied so as to remove the unwanted smudge out of the lens. With this method used properly, the lens will be cleaned properly and dust will be removed completely.

Cleaning on the go

When going out it is advisable to carry some cleaning paper tissue. Something can happen in the rare event thereby immediate cleaning is required. The lens should be cleared of any debris and the cleaning paper should not be touched on the side which is contacting the lens. These acts as a safety measure to keep your camera always clean even when travelling and visiting various areas.


It is clear that our camera lens and gears always get dirty and requires cleaning. Proper lens care should be maintained to reduce the number of times the lens should be cleaned. Therefore it is advisable to come up with ways to protect the lens from exposure to dust. This is done by using the lens filter, proper storing of the camera and switching the lenses properly. One should also avoid touching the lens with fingers regardless how clean they are. This prevents the oil from our fingers to get into the lenses. Any lens problem should always be taken to a professional so as to prevent future damage to your camera. If the dust turns to be on the sensor rather than the lens, one should seek services from a local professional. This will, therefore, safeguard the camera and it will last for long.


Sahlin, D. (2010). Digital portrait photography for dummies. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley Pub.

Borgia, M. (2006). Human vision and the night sky. New York: Springer.

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