Polarized glasses can help reduce glare and improve your sharpness of vision, especially in bright conditions; however, they have been specially treated to achieve this effect, and require special care to maintain their effectiveness and appearance. Not all polarized lenses are the same, and you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions first. Some general guidelines can help you keep your glasses clean and useful.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. There is no universal type of polarized eyewear, and no universal way to keep them all clean. Different manufacturers rely on different techniques and materials to achieve polarization, so the specific care instructions for your eyewear should always be followed.
Check your brand’s website or go to a retailer if you need specific advice for your eyewear.
Regardless of your brand, however, it is safe to assume that the next several steps will be applicable.
Invest in a microfiber cloth. Who hasn’t rubbed a smudge off their glasses with a shirt tail, sleeve, or tissue? Such materials can be too rough and/or be embedded with dust particles or debris that may scratch the coating on polarized lenses.
Many polarized glasses will come with a small microfiber cleaning cloth. If not, they are easy to find in eyewear stores or in the eye care departments of larger retailers.
A soft, clean cotton cloth can also be used, but is not as highly recommended by manufacturers.
Whatever cloth you use, make sure it is clean. Microfiber cloths can be laundered, but avoid using fabric softeners on them. They can embed undesirable chemicals and oils.
Use water first. Clean, warm water is the easiest, cheapest, safest, and often most effective way to remove smudges, dirt, oil, etc. from polarized glasses.
Before doing any other cleaning, remove surface dust and debris by blowing on your glasses, then (if necessary) running them under warm water.
If there is salt residue (from seawater) or any other type of abrasive material on your glasses, be sure to rinse them thoroughly with water before doing any type of rubbing.
Rub the lenses with your microfiber cloth while they are still wet from the rinsing, or while still under the running water. Use only as much pressure as needed to remove dirt and smudges.
The old-time method of breathing warm, damp air on your lenses and gently wiping them clean is acceptable for quick, minor cleanings. Make sure the lens is moistened all over, however.
Use lens cleaner only as recommended and needed. Polarized glasses are often expensive, so you may be tempted to skip paying for the lens cleaner. After all, can’t you just use dish soap or window cleaner? Especially when dealing with polarized lenses, the answer is no.
Commercial soaps, household cleaners, and especially window cleaners can contain chemicals that will slowly but surely dissolve the coating on your glasses. This will leave them cloudy and less effective at reducing glare.
Manufacturers of several popular brands of polarized glasses have specific recommendations for the use of lens cleaners. These include:
Buying their own branded cleaner or choosing one with a pH level between 5.5 and 8.
Buying a (different company’s) branded cleaner or using another with less than five percent alcohol content.
Avoiding the use of cleaners entirely in favor of plain old warm water.