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How to Clean a Scope Lens in 4 Easy Steps? – Do’s & Don’ts

how to clean a scope lens
Written by Dan Goldsmith
Last Update: January 9, 2023

Rifle scopes let you clearly see your targets located at long distances as if they were in front of you.

Certainly, these devices have come to make life easier for many hunters, improving their accuracy and efficiency.

The average hunter is always exposed to external agents.

Wind and humidity can quickly deteriorate a hunter’s gear and for that reason, maintenance should be a mandatory routine in the life of an experienced shooter. But how to clean a scope lens the easiest way?

Certainly, the lenses of a rifle scope whether the long-range, the rimfire, or thermal scope, are particularly prone to damage that requires your attention.

Dirt particles tend to accumulate on the lenses and scratch the surface. So, you need to keep them clean to guarantee their correct operation.

Today, you’ll learn how to clean scope lenses in the easiest ways as well as the importance of cleaning your scopes.

How to Clean a Scope Lens: Pro Tips & Tricks

1. Removing dust

Removing dust from a scope

Some hunters think that they should clean their scope lenses every time they use their rifles. However, they’re wrong.

The dust on the lens surface won’t cause problems as long as the accumulation isn’t evident. In fact, excessive cleaning may be the real problem.

Frequent use of liquid cleaners, like alcohol and mild disinfectants, can generate corrosion on the metal tube of the scope.

So, if the dust on the surface doesn’t interfere with your vision range, there’s nothing to worry about.

However, if the accumulated dust demands urgent cleaning, follow these steps to guarantee the best results:

  • Blow the dust off the lenses while you hold the scope facing downwards.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush to remove dust buildup from the glass.
  • Don’t apply too much pressure on the lens to prevent scratches.
  • Make sure the bristles of the brush are free of oil and abrasive particles.

2. Polishing the surface

Polishing the surface of a scope

Sometimes removing dust isn’t enough to guarantee maximum visibility through the lenses.

Things like fingerprint marks, oil spots, and dried water drops may require extra effort to be removed.

You can find several polishing tools on the market that can help you solve this problem.

For example, lens pens use dry chemical components to remove stubborn stains.

That means there’s no risk of corrosion when used on metal surfaces. Lens pens also have a smooth texture to prevent scratches.

However, lens pens also have a big con. They can’t reach those difficult corners around the lenses.

In that case, it’s more convenient to use a microfiber chamois. You can also use those small microfiber cloths that come inside the box of your rifle scope.

These cloths are specially designed to attract dust and other small particles without causing damage.

You can also wrap a cotton swab with a microfiber cloth to better reach those narrow edges.

3. Chemical cleaners

Clean a scope with chemical cleaners

There are some kinds of stains that can be really difficult to remove when they dry up.

Seasoned hunters are always exposed to animal blood, tree sap, and other common substances in nature.

Many times, these substances may splash out and leave ugly stains on the lens surface.

Chemical cleaners are by far the best solution for these stubborn stains.

Products like anti-fog cleaning solutions and lens cleaners are powerful enough to clean the surface without removing the special coating of the lens.

Whenever you clean a scope lens, never use window cleaning liquid because it contains ammonia and can damage the lens.

4. How to clean turrets?

How to clean scope turrets

Turrets are those little millimeter screws that let you adjust the position of the reticles.

When hunting in too humid environments, turrets tend to accumulate too much condensation, generating rust.

For that reason, it’s recommended to remove each turret after each use to leave them air-dry.

Before installing them again, use a soft-bristle brush to remove accumulated dust.

On the other hand, use a cotton swab soaked with alcohol to remove all debris accumulated on the thread.

Finally, apply a thin layer of wax over each turret to repel water and prevent rusting.

Dos & don’ts of cleaning scope lenses

What you should do

  • Remove all the dust from the lenses before rubbing.
  • Don’t apply too much pressure while rubbing with a microfiber cloth. Small dust particles can fall from the cloth and scratch the surface.
  • Always opt for the cleaning products recommended by the manufacturer of your rifle scope.

What you shouldn’t do

  • Don’t breathe and rub the surface while it’s still covered with dust. Dust contains silica particles that can easily scratch the glass surface and its coating.
  • Don’t use a paper tissue to clean a scope lens. This tissue contains lanolin and wood residue that may scratch the surface.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals on the lenses to remove stubborn stains.

Preventive care tips

  • Avoid touching the lenses with your bare hands so as not to spread your natural oils and fingerprint marks all over the surface.
  • Avoid using your mouth to blow air on the lenses or you’ll have to remove your own saliva from the surface.
  • Avoid using liquid cleaners to remove stains from scope lenses. Over time, they tend to deteriorate the coating and generate rust.


Certainly, cleaning scope lenses is a piece of cake when you have the right tools and the required knowledge to do it.

Just make sure to remove all dirt residues from the surface before rubbing or applying any chemical product to prevent serious damage.

Never forget to take a cleaning kit with you on each outdoor trip you go to. You can apply our method to clean your bore sights too.

If you carefully follow these tips, your scope lenses will keep clean and shiny for longer.

About the author

Dan Goldsmith

Hi, this is Dan. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 30+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed.

My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

Whenever I am able to catch a moment of free time, you will find me enjoying my family or heading to the range on my motorcycle. I have enjoyed shooting sports ever since my dad introduced them to me as a child.

I like to think of myself as an outdoorsman who lives his life to the fullest. I hope you will benefit from my efforts to create valuable resources on this website. Happy reading!

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