Tips For Keeping Your Sunglasses Sparkling Clean All Summer Long

Trends come and go, but sunglasses will always be an unbeatable summer accessory. Serving to elevate your look and protect your eyes, a good pair of shades is worth protecting — but how can you keep your eyewear clean during an on-the-go summer? 


We (hopefully) don't need to tell you this: When your glasses aren't on your face, they should be in a case. Sunglasses are great to have on hand, but not if you're tossing them unprotected into your beach bag or glove compartment. 

Even if you've mastered the fundamentals of sunglasses care, however, your shades are bound to need a good cleaning every once in a while. Unfortunately, built-up layers of grime on your lenses do not count as additional ultraviolet (UV) ray protection. While summer trends are constantly evolving — from wraparound styles to the oversized sunglasses look — filth will never be fetch. There are a few dos and don'ts you'll need to master to keep the sun out of your eyes and the dirt out of your style. 


Avoid salty environments and products

Take some oceanside Instagram pictures in your full outfit ensemble but after that, don't wear your sunglasses in the water. Swimming in your shades presents obvious risks of losing or damaging your glasses. Even if you're just planning to wade, the salty spray of the waves can do damage. Salt particles that are too small for your eye to see are big enough for your eyeglasses to face damage. Both saltwater residue and the physical crystals are abrasive enough to scratch lenses or cause wear to frames. 


Unfortunately, pool water isn't a complete loophole around this. American Optical notes that, while the water itself is not typically harmful to sunglasses, prolonged exposure to pool ingredients like chlorine can wear down lens coatings. That means that if you splurge for an anti-reflective coating or another cool effect, your shades should probably be left on the pool deck. 

Of course, a one-time dip in the pool or ocean shouldn't ruin your glasses entirely. In order to prevent damage, it's important to know how to properly proceed with cleaning. That means — pay attention — put down that shirt hem. 

Resist the urge to use your shirt hem

Is there anything more quintessentially summer than stepping back, surveying the ocean, and casually polishing your sunglasses on your shirt hem? The move may seem practical and posh, but you're doing your sunglasses no favors by giving them the ol' shirt hem shine. While wiping away grime with an article of clothing may seem like your most convenient option, it will only be costly in the end. 


As Zenni Optical explains, the fabrics of your clothing might be filled with their own dust and debris. While your shirt might feel soft to the touch, rubbing it against your lenses can unearth these small, abrasive materials and cause damage to your shades. For a similar reason, beach towels and napkins should be avoided. 

Even if you could hypothetically locate a T-shirt that was 100% free of dust, you shouldn't go straight to scrubbing. One of the most harmful aspects of cleaning your glasses on your T-shirt is the fact that you're missing out on a crucial pre-cleaning step: the rinse. 

Rinse before you scrub

Because of the aforementioned dirt and salt particles that gather on your lenses, it's essential to rinse your glasses with water before you begin the cleaning process (and no, a dip in the dirty, salty ocean doesn't count).


Running a gentle stream of lukewarm water over your glasses will help to wash away any debris. If you skip this step, your efforts to clean your sunglasses could only damage them more. The last thing you want to do is smear abrasive materials across your lenses while you scrub. 

Warby Parker recommends rinsing before and after washing — first to remove the initial grime, and then to eliminate any soapy residue or streaks from your fingers. For both rinsing steps, avoid using hot water. Although warmer water is typically praised for its ability to kill germs, too high of temps can cause lens coatings to deteriorate and thinner frames to lose their shape. 

Use a little bit of gentle soap

Myriad cleaning products designed specifically for shining sunglasses exist. While these may be worth the investment if you have a hefty sunglasses collection, or consider yourself to be an aficionado, you can usually get by just fine by using household soaps you already have on hand. Dish soap is a popular choice. In the same way that they can remove grease and cooking oils, these products are effective at removing sweat and skin oils from lenses and nose pads. Before beginning, you'll just want to make sure that your dish soap of choice contains no lotions or sea salt additives. 


Only a very small amount of soap is required — the last thing you need is more build-up. Healthline recommends a single drop on each lens as a good starting point. You can use your finger to gently rub the soap around the lenses and the frame, just be sure to wash your hands first.

As with pool water, coated lenses can add some extra complications. Harsher soap can degrade these special coatings and reduce the lifespan of your lenses. Be sure to check the ingredients list or opt for a sunglasses-specific cleanser if you're worried. 

Clean before you see the grime

You shouldn't be struggling to see before you reach for the soap. While we'd hope that you wouldn't miss the dirt that's floating in your vision, cleaning should ideally begin proactively. As you rock your favorite shades in the car, on the beach, or during a hike, tiny dust and dirt particles are settling on the lens. By the time more substantial grime has arrived, these smaller pieces will have had time to settle, potentially causing scratches or more lasting damage. 


Giving your sunglasses a simple rinse and cleanse on a regular basis will ensure that they're always sparkling when you're ready to wear them. Creating new habits can be hard, so you can try starting a new routine that goes alongside your existing summer activities. Perhaps you'll decide to clean your sunglasses every time you wash your swimsuit or beach towels. Of course, if you're neglecting to wash your bikinis, too, we have a whole other problem. 

Your sunglasses should last around two years, even if you're wearing them for multiple hours a day. With good washing habits, you can make the most of your investment into a pair of shades that makes you feel confident (and clean).