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If you are an avid fan of wildlife or bird watching and often have your binoculars with you on a trip into the great outdoors, you will know that your optics can quickly become in need of a clean, despite your best care.
Dust can gather in the moving parts and on the lenses of your binoculars, and knowing how to clean and maintain binoculars will help you increase the lifespan of your item.
Cleaning binoculars is not quite as straightforward as getting a cloth and wiping the dirt away and off you go, as lens surfaces tend to have protective coatings on them that you need to be careful not to damage, wear down, or create microscopic scratches on. Another tip is to not be tempted to breathe onto the lenses and then wipe with a cloth, as your breath can create watermarks that will affect the light transmission through the lens.
However, there are a few quick and easy steps to follow if you have been wondering how to clean binoculars inside to ensure that you always have crystal clear binoculars to spot the most interesting of wildlife!
Tools You Will Need
Lens cleaning kits are available to buy, and you may even have had one included with your binoculars when you purchased them. But if you are starting from scratch, then we have provided below a list of the main pieces of equipment that you will need to have at hand to keep the lenses of your binoculars clean:
- Microfiber cloth
- Warm water
- Lens brush
- Cleaning solution
- Can of compressed air
Selecting a microfiber cloth is important as it is designed to be super soft and not cause scratches to delicate surfaces. Don’t be tempted to use paper towels or toilet paper for this task! Having the proper tools for the job will ensure that you keep your optical surfaces protected and clean.
The right cleaning solution is critical to prevent damage to your lenses. Avoid using household glass cleaning products or those supplied for glasses. Instead, select one suitable for camera lenses, as it won’t damage any protective coating applied. The perfect product is a dry cleaning compound that doesn’t contain any alcohol!
Cleaning Binoculars in a Few Easy Steps
You may not need to dismantle your binoculars to clean them if they just have some dust on the surface. But if you do, then start by taking out the cap from the focus mechanism and removing the eyepieces. Additionally, detaching the bottom plate will allow you to clean the objective lenses.
Step 1: Initial Clean
When you clean binocular lenses, the first step you should take is to remove any large debris or dust. First of all, take the lens caps and the caps off the objective lenses (the larger lenses) and then, holding your binoculars in one hand, point them downwards and use compressed air to blow away the dust. Do this to both lenses and any other area of your binoculars, gathering loose dust.
Tilting the binoculars downwards prevents any dust from settling back onto the optics as you use a lens blower to clean the optical surface.
Step 2: Brush Away More Stubborn Dirt
Still holding your binoculars upside down, use a lens pen or retractable brush to gently rub away any remaining dust. Using a soft brush is important to protect your lenses, so always have the right cleaning materials for the task.
Once you have removed all the dust you can see from your optics; you are ready to move on to the next step.
Step 3: Clean the Binocular Lens
In this step, you are moving on to cleaning your binocular lenses.
Apply lens cleaning fluid to your microfibre cloth, lens tissue or cotton swab and then use the damp cloth to gently wipe in a circular motion over the lenses. Using a cloth to wipe will remove any moisture marks or fingerprints from the lenses. If dampened with tepid water, a q tip can also be used to remove any stubborn or hard to reach spots.
Specific optics lens cleaning solutions are designed to be gentle and not remove any of the protective coatings applied to the glass lenses. Opting for a household glass cleaning product risks stripping the lens surface of its coating.
Step 4: Reassemble and Store
Once you have cleaned your binocular lenses, replace the lens caps to protect them and place the binoculars in a case. The whole process shouldn’t have taken more than 10-15 minutes of effort, but it is worth taking the time to ensure that your binoculars are well maintained.
Storage and Maintenance of Binoculars
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, cleaning lenses frequently can remove protective lens coatings and risk scratching the lens during the cleaning process. It is better to take preventative care of your binoculars and only clean them when you see dust or marks on the lenses.
Keep Your Binoculars Dry
Even if your binoculars are described as being waterproof, it is important to keep them dry as it is possible for mould to start developing if moisture is left untreated. Remove the lens cap from the lenses to allow air to dry them out and then store them in a dry place.
As mentioned above, keeping your binoculars somewhere dry is important, as is keeping them in a suitable binocular case when out and about. This will act as a rain guard and keep your binoculars clean when they are not in use. If your binoculars were initially supplied with a small packet of silica gel, then it is best to keep it in the case, as it will help to absorb any humidity.
If you don’t have a case, it is best to clean your binoculars and store them flat rather than keeping the binocular body upright. Laying them on their side and covering them with a lens cloth will keep the dust from resettling on them.
If your binoculars are expensive and it is important to you that they are well maintained, we recommend that you contact the manufacturer to see if they offer professional maintenance services.
They will be able to properly clean your binoculars inside and out, ensuring that they are completely free from dust and any mould or fungus growing from moisture ingress. If left untreated, mould and fungus can cause permanent damage to the glass in the lens. Proper cleaning on an annual basis should extend the lifespan of your purchase.
Keeping Your Device Spotless
As discussed above, lens cleaning is essential for maintaining your binoculars, but it doesn’t have to be an arduous task.
If you have been wondering how to clean binoculars, then having the right tool to hand to make sure that you don’t cause any damage to the lenses is probably the most critical part of the task. Using canned air to remove the dust particles, cloth or brush, and a purpose-made cleaning solution is pretty much all you need. Utilising products that the manufacturer recommends is also an excellent idea!
Use a gentle circular motion to clean the glass of your binocular lens and always keep them dry to prevent mould or fungus from developing.
Storage and maintenance are also key factors to extending the lifespan of your product. Keeping them safe from damage and external elements will prevent the worst of debris from affecting them.
Whether you have old binoculars that you are trying to extend the life of or brand new shiny ones that you want to last for a long time, following the cleaning and maintenance information and tips we have provided above will set you on the right patch to having perfectly clear optics for many years to come!
Sam loves to learn about animals and their habitats. He has been a nature lover from a very young age, and has been writing papers and articles about wildlife for as long as he can remember.