Imagine it’s early in the morning, and the sun has only risen a bit. The world is still quiet and dark. But somewhere in front of you, some ways off, you see a flash of brown. It’s moving gracefully through the woods, walking lightly with barely a sound.
You want to see for sure what it is. Is it a deer? Possibly. You look through your binoculars only to find you haven’t used them since last season. You realize you’ve probably never cleaned them.
The image is blurry, and looking at the binoculars you see dust, dirt, and external fog. Then, you do what most of us do. You breathe on it and wipe the lenses with your shirt, never realizing you are destroying your binoculars.
Let’s say you are hunting on an unusually dry day. Maybe you’re in the middle of a fall field, trying to catch glimpses of turkeys on the other side. You look through your spotting scope only to see that it’s full of dust. In a rush, you use your thumb to clear it away. You will see the turkeys today, but over the years that awesome sight picture will erode.
Why is it Important to Clean Lenses Correctly?
In both situations, the fragile lenses of the optics are slowly being destroyed. You never know what the grime is. That dust could be from teeny tiny rocks made of silica. When you rub the dust off, you are grinding the silica into the lenses.
Since the particles are so small, you won’t see the scratches on the lenses. But, unfortunately, that precious lens coating is still being damaged. As the lenses degrade, your picture will lose brightness and begin to look cloudy.
The big problem with people that own spotting scopes and binoculars is really two-fold. Most of the time the products don’t get proper maintenance. The second problem is that when binos and scopes get maintenance, is it done incorrectly. This also damages the optics.
Today, we are going to give you some advice on the proper way to clean your binoculars and spotting scopes!
How to Clean the Lenses
Since lenses are the most precious part of your optics, we’ll start there. The lenses are quite sensitive and to clean them effectively you are going to need something more than a shirt, your breath, and a thumb. In fact, don’t use any of those at all.
Step 1: Give them Some Air
Let’s start cleaning with some air. Not canned air! That stuff you use to clean a keyboard is not what you are going to use to clean your binoculars or spotting scope. Compressed air is a significant no-go for cleaning lenses. Instead, you want a small blower that you squeeze to puff air.
This tool is rubber, and all you have to do is squeeze it to blow air! It is reusable and very light. It doesn’t assault your lenses with air. These small reusable tools are commonly used to clean camera lenses, which are well known for being superbly sensitive.
Hold your optic with the lenses downwards, and then apply the soft air to it. This allows the dust and debris to simply fall off with the gentle application of air. Now you may be thinking, why can’t I just breathe on it? Is breath a gentle application of air? Technically yes, but your breath contains moisture. This causes spots and makes dust into micro mud.
Step 2: Lens Cleaning Pen
The next step is to get a lens cleaning pen. Nikon makes a great one. A lens cleaning pen is superior to microfiber and cotton for clearing layers of dust. Use this brush to scrub the lenses of both your binoculars and spotting scopes. These pens are extremely soft. In fact, they were created to avoid damaging a lens coating of any kind.
Scrub and rub gently with the lens pen. Keep holding the binoculars upside down as your brush the lenses out. We recommend starting at the peripherals and working your way to the center. This avoids lots of issues with dirt getting stuck on the peripherals of the lenses.
Step 3: Cleaning Solution
Next, you want to apply some lens cleaning solution. Buy sensitive lens cleaning solution. Not Windex or eyeglass cleaning solution. You want sensitive lens cleaning solution. Zeiss cleaner is an excellent go-to for cleaning your lenses. Zeiss is another optics maker, and they make extremely high-quality gear. Their lens cleaning solution is extremely trustworthy.
We like to apply this lens cleaner to a Q-tip, and then rub it over the lenses. This slowly picks the dust up to ensure everything is good to go.
Step 4: The Finishing Wipe Down
Finally, dry the optics off with a quick wipe down from a clean microfiber cloth. Not a napkin, not a tissue, and not the T-shirt you are wearing. A microfiber cloth causes zero scratches and prevents the unit from becoming blurry.
Step 5: Repeat
That’s it for lenses! Do this once a week, or after a day of heavy use, and you’ll have your optic rocking and rolling for years.
How to Clean the Rest of the Binos and Spotting Scopes
To finish off the outside, simply wipe it down with a rag. Or, scrub dust off with a soft toothbrush. You don’t have to be super gentle with the exterior, just make sure you don’t go crazy and hit the lenses. Treat the optics like eggs and the outside like a brick. Maybe not really a brick, but you don’t have to be near as gentle with the outside!
One Last Word About Cleaning Your Binos and Scopes
Cleaning your spotting scope and binoculars is easy to do. Just do it with caution and it should only take a few minutes. When done properly, you will preserve your optics for a long period of time. In addition, you’ll keep that awesome overall image quality. Keep your optics clean, and you’ll always be ready to go!