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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: August 11, 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.

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?

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

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

Dirt particles tend to accumulate on the lenses, ending up scratching your lens surface. So, you need to keep your lens clean to guarantee their correct operation.

Here’s some pro tips on how to clean a scope lens.

1. Removing dust

Removing dust from a scope

Some hunters think that they should clean a rifle scope every time they use it. However, this approach may do you more harm than good.

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.

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.
  • You can also use compressed air for cleaning scope lenses.
  • Use a soft-bristled lens 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.
  • Wipe the lenses with soft lens cloth once all the dust perticles are loose

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 spots may require extra effort to be removed.

You can find several polishing tools on the market that can help you keep your optics clean.

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 lens tissue 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 that are hard to get rid of.

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 lens coating.

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 humid environments, turrets tend to accumulate too much condensation, generating rust in the process.

For that reason, it’s recommended to remove both turrets 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. The same goes for the lens covers.

Finally, apply a thin layer of wax over each turret to repel water and prevent rusting. And with that, you now know how to clean a rifle scope lens the propewr way.

Dos & Don’ts of Cleaning Scope Lenses


  • 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 hunting scope.


  • 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 the lenses. 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 may 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.

And with that, we’ve reached the end of our today’s discussion. This guide provided a simple over view of the lens cleaning process and answered the question “How to Clean a Scope Lens the right way.”

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


How Often Should You Clean Optics?

It’s recommended to clean your optics once a month. This will ensure that the lens is free from dirt and debris and in good condition for optimal performance.

How to Clean The Inside of a Rifle Scope?

Don’t do this. You should never attempt to clean the inside of a rifle scope as this can potentially damage the delicate optics. The best way to clean the inside of a scope is by using compressed air and a soft-bristled brush or dedicated lens paper.

What Causes a Scope to Fog Up?

Fogging occurs when moisture vapor condenses on the lens surface of the scope. It can be caused by sudden temperature changes, humidity, condensation, or even breathing near the scope. To prevent fogging, you should use an anti-fog solution and keep your scope in a well-ventilated space.

Which Type of Scope is Most Accurate?

The most accurate scope is one that has been built with quality materials and has been properly calibrated. The best scopes are those that have a good optical coating, adjustable reticles, and long eye relief for comfort. Quality optics will also be resistant to weather exposure, shocks and vibrations.

How Does Tube Size Affect a Scope?

Tube size affects the amount of magnification that is possible on a scope. The larger the tube, the more powerful the magnification will be. However, it is important to note that large tubes can cause extra distortion in images and increase weight. Smaller tubes are usually lighter and give better image quality.

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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