There are probably days you come back from a ride, totally worn out, covered in dirt, grit, sweat, and bugs. And like me, you probably just toss your gear on the floor. But you shouldn’t toss your sunglasses around. (Be careful with your helmet, too.)

Your sunglasses could have easily cost over $200, so you gotta keep em clean! Here’s how:

What to AVOID Doing

First, let’s talk about how not to clean your sunglasses. Because improper cleaning can be just as damaging as not cleaning them at all!

1. Don’t do that thing where you breath on your lenses and then wipe them on your t-shirt. Just don’t.

The moisture from your breath doesn’t clean the lenses, and your t-shirt could scratch the lenses.

2. Definitely do not use a paper towel or napkin; those materials are even more likely to scratch your lenses.

3. Don’t use a regular cotton towel. At best, it will leave fuzz everywhere; at worst, it will damage your lenses.

4. Don’t use hand soap to clean your glasses. Hand soaps usually contain lotions which smear your lenses, or worse – exfoliants that will scratch your lenses.

5. Don’t use harsh cleaners like window glass cleaner or even distilled white vinegar.

How to Clean your Sunglasses

Here’s the quick and easy way to clean your sunglasses:

1. When you get back from a ride, take off your sunglasses and rinse them under warm water. This should get most of the sweat and dirt off.

2. If they’re really dirty, use a drop of mild dish soap to clean the lenses. Dish soap will remove grease and oil easily! No more smudges.

The dish soap is especially effective on the nose pieces and other areas where dirt and oil can hide.

3. Rinse again.

4. To dry, wipe them with the provided lens cloth. If you don’t have that, be sure to use a very soft cloth designed for sunglasses.

5. Put them in their protective case or at least in a safe place. Don’t put the lenses face down.

Your sunglasses will be clean and fresh for your next ride.

Special precautions for Oakley sunglasses

With Oakley sunglasses, you get a warning – “do not clean lenses with anything other than the soft carry cloth.” That means there’s a chance to scratch the fancy coating on the lenses even if you use a cleaning cloth that isn’t from Oakley.

They use fancy technology like Plutonite and Iridium lenses, and Unobtanium rubber, and if you want those to last as long as possible, heed these instructions.

So here are my slightly altered instructions for Oakley lenses:

1. Rinse under cold water to remove sweat and dirt.

2. Bust out the Oakley lens cleaning kit. It’s only $15 and includes free refills of the cleaning solution. (A small price to pay for keeping your expensive Oakleys free of scratches and smudges.)

[Click here to buy it on]

With this, you can use the cleaning solution and cleaning cloth to wipe the lenses clean. It provides a more thorough cleaning than the soft case does, so I think it’s well worth it, especially since I’m a mountain biker and can abuse my sunglasses!

3. When dry, place inside their Oakley carrying case.

Just follow those simple instructions and your sunglasses should stay in great condition for years to come!

This article was originally published on June 8, 2011. It was revised and updated on February 18, 2019.

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  1. how exactly would I go about getting a free refill on the Oakley lens cleaner?

    • @Ted

      Great question! You have to go to an Oakley store, a Sunglass Hut, or Lens Crafters. Take your Oakley cleaning kit bottle and they’ll fill it up for you. (via Oakley Forum)

  2. How do I clean polarized sunglasses?

    • @Michelle

      These instructions apply to most sunglasses lenses, including polarized, mirrored, and ones with anti-reflective coatings.

      However, it’s always best to check your owner’s manual or any instructions that came from the manufacturer. Sometimes there are certain precautions you must take.

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