As an optician it falls on us to teach care and cleaning to our patients. Cleaning is an issue many patients have, not just the first time wearers but many long time wearers have been incorrectly cleaning their glasses for years. I continuously hear people ask me, “Why can’t I ever get my glasses this clean?” the answer is in a few key areas.
The cleaner you are using
The cloth you are using
The technique you use to clean them
Using the proper cleaner is very important. The short answer is that anything that says “safe for anti reflective coating” is what you want to use. I slap my head every time a patient tells me they use dish soap, a squirt on each eye and their fingertips rub it around and rinse under the tap, then just let it dry. There is so much wrong with this I can hardly figure out where to begin. Dish soap commonly has hand lotions in it, also they often have ammonia or other harsh cleaning agents. lotions are just counter productive to cleaning glasses, it makes no sense to put hand lotion on your glasses even if it is a part of soap. We should be staying away from anything with ammonia in it. Windex and other glass cleaners also have ammonia and they are very hard on your coatings and will cause a lot of damage over time.
Many people feel that because we call them glasses that they are made of glass and can be treated the same as any glass in their house. Windex works great on my windows. I used coke-a-cola to clean my windshield. Paint thinner works good to get a little paint off.
I’ve heard so many different things used that I just can’t believe people think it’s a good idea. Some of these products can actually melt some lenses. Always use the least aggressive cleaner you can to get the job done. That is so important I will say it twice. Always use the least aggressive cleaner you can to get the job done. Don’t automatically use the strongest thing you have just because you know it will work. If you are cleaning off paint first use alcohol. If that didn’t quite get it move up to acetone. Don’t just use varsol cause it’s what you have and it worked on your windshield.
While purchasing a ‘safe for AR’ cleaner is what we generally promote in the store using some DIY cleaners can be okay. I make my own cleaner all the time and I often instruct patients how to do the same. I would rather people use the correct cleaners than have a redo due to crazing down the road. You can assume that some people, even if you offer free refills, will just use things they have around the home. Here is the mixture I like to use.
In a 4oz bottle use Blue Dawn to cover the bottom of the bottle. 1 oz of Isopropyl alcohol and the rest water. That’s all it takes to make an effective cleaner that is safe on you glasses. I always suggest blue Dawn because it is just soap, no additives and very gentle. There may be other products out there that are the same but I’ve not worked with them so I don’t suggest them. Stay away from any cleaners that are too aggressive or have lotions or scents to them. I typically use 99% alcohol but if all you can get is 87% that’s fine too. I use tap water but depending on your local water supply you may want to use bottled or distilled water to mix.
Just stress to not use household cleaners and why. These are too strong for your coatings and have other additives and lotions that are counterproductive to cleaning.
Use the right cloth is important. Usually a cloth comes with your glasses, most designer frames come with a cloth. You can get good clothes in a package with cleaner. There are numerous proper cleaning clothes out there readily available and inexpensive or free to the patient.
Why is it that so many patients use the wrong clothes? Lazy is a bit of the answer, nothing on hand when the glasses are dirty. The bulk of the answer is they are uninformed what is good and what is bad and why they are bad.
100% cotton is a great material for a cleaning cloth. If we took a t shirt and cut the back out of it and cleaned it. Save it to just clean our glasses, that would be a great cleaning cloth. Once we are wearing it however, it absorbs dirt that can be abrasive and body oils that are counter productive to cleaning.
Many shirts also have other materials like polyester that are actually harder materials than most lenses so they can scratch. Also if they don’t absorb water well they will leave streaks. It is important to use the correct material or you will scratch your lenses. Fingers are not a good material to wash your glasses either. In the example before, under running water with dish soap.
Your fingers are far too abrasive and will rub off a coating over time. Even a person with perfectly moisturized hands and very soft skin, your finger tip has too many ridges and is too hard, and also has natural oils that rub off onto the lens. Now think of that farmer who told you he does it and try to envision the condition of his skin and how rough and dirty those fingertips are.
It’s also important to tell your patients to clean these cloths regularly. Think about all the dirt and grease you wipe off your lenses in a week, or a month. Some people in a year before cleaning your cloth. A cloth is not a one way street where dirt goes into the cloth but never out. It comes out again next time you wash your glasses. Given enough build up there will be more dirt on your cloth than your lenses and at this point you will not be able to clean your glasses at all.
Throw that cloth into the washing machine. Give it an extra rinse to make sure all the detergent is out of the cloth. I suggest not using fabric softener. Then it’s ready to use again.
Technique is probably the biggest issue most people have with cleaning their glasses. I hear constantly from my patients, “I can never get them as clean as you can.” Even though they buy the cleaner I am using and have the same cloth I gave them they still don’t effectively clean their glasses.
There are a few common mistakes that people make over and over and it’s our responsibility as opticians to teach some amount of care and use to patients in our care. You should definitely have a presentation ready to teach people how to clean effectively. Here is a video of my presentation
. It takes only a couple of minuets and your patients will be amazed. “I have never been told that before and I’ve been wearing glasses fro 40 years.” Get used to hearing that because so many opticians don’t properly teach this skill to their patents
By allowing people to continue to clean improperly with the wrong products you are promoting poor habits. These habits result in premature wear on coatings, multiple rodeos, frustrated patients and unhappy customers with no confidence in the quality of your products. A short presentation on cleaning and some information on what cleaning products to use will not only solve these issues but raise your level of competence in your patients eyes.
A few minuets of your time will give you years of loyal patients. It is worth your time to perfect this skill.