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5 Tips for Cleaning Your Optics

  • 3 min read

You’ve probably heard about investing in boots and optics, and for good reason. Both can make or break any hunt, but we spend hundreds, probably thousands of dollars on optics. Between different scopes, binos, rangefinders, and spotters...there’s a good chance you’ve got a small fortune invested in good glass. Optics are with us every step of the way on any given hunt. And while reputable brands are known for rock-solid warranties and customer service, knowing how to provide basic cleaning and maintenance is critical, yet often overlooked.

Surprisingly, it’s more about what not to do than what to do. The truth is a lot of scratches result from improper cleaning, since it only takes one tiny grain of sand to leave multiple scratches. One of the most common situations where glass gets scratched is in the field when mud, dirt, or dust affects your view and you quickly use your sleeve or glove (which aren’t clean) to aggressively wipe the lens. It’s safe to say we’re all guilty of that at some point.

The offseason is a great time to check all your optics and see if any are due for a cleaning. It’s a lot easier to do it in the comfort of your own home than in the heat of the moment when you’re trying to find the clump of brush a buck bedded down under.

Here are five simple steps to cleaner glass:

1. Start with compressed air or a lens brush

You always want to remove dust and debris before wiping the lens. Compressed air is ideal for blowing away particles while a lens brush is great for stubborn dirt or dust. Be sure to store your lens brush carefully, keep it clean, and don’t use it for anything else. The same goes for any other material used to clean your optics. And when these are no longer clean, you’ll want to replace them.

2. Avoid leaving scratches

Always remove dust before wiping and never go in a circular motion, which tends to drag particles around the surface. It’s also a good idea to start in the center and move any debris towards the outer edge of the glass. If any small particles remain after cleaning, they’ll at least be on the outskirts of your field of view and less likely to impact your vision.

3. Avoid using lubricants or harsh cleaning agents

Remember, less is more when it comes to maintaining optics - they’re not made to be disassembled and you certainly don’t need lubricants or harsh chemicals. After removing dust and debris with compressed air or a lens brush, there are a few options for cleaning the glass itself. Water, isopropyl alcohol, optical cleaning fluid, and dish soap are generally safe to use on quality optics. Isopropyl alcohol and optical cleaning fluid are preferred because they’re less
likely to leave water spots. A clean microfiber lens cloth can be used to wipe the lens clean and dry.

4. Keep it simple for the exterior

Whether you dropped your spotting scope in the mud or your binos were exposed to brutal winter weather, cleaning the exterior is simpler than the glass itself since most quality optics have durable outer finishes. Dish soap and water, along with a microfiber cloth (not the microfiber lens cloth used on the glass) are tough to beat for cleaning the exterior. Pay close attention to any moving parts and remove debris from any knobs or dials. Another clean, dry microfiber cloth is perfect for wiping and drying the exterior.

5. Clean as needed

If it doesn’t obstruct your vision, leave it as is. A little bit of dust buildup generally doesn’t affect vision in the field like it will on your reading glasses at home. Instead, take preventative measures to keep dust and dirt from taking over.

Whether it’s a bino harness, scope cover, or a spotting scope case, Marsupial Gear has everything to keep them clean and protected.

After all, we spend way too much money on good glass to leave them vulnerable to some of the hazards in the field.

And as good as some of the customer service and warranties are nowadays, nobody wants to send their optics back in the middle of the season because they were careless or cleaned them the wrong way.

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