Mastering the Art of Optic Cleaning: A Comprehensive Guide -

Mastering the Art of Optic Cleaning: A Comprehensive Guide

We know that your firearms are your pride and joy, and you take great care to ensure they're in top-notch condition. But what about your optics? Whether you're using a riflescope,  hunting binoculars, spotting scopes, or any other optic, they all require a unique approach to cleaning and maintenance. In this guide, we'll focus on rifle scope cleaning - because, let's face it, these babies often have to endure some rough conditions out in the field. However, the principles we'll discuss can be applied to all your optics. Let's get started.

How to Clean a Rifle Scope

Before you begin...

When it comes to cleaning your  hunting rifle scope, there are some important things to keep in mind. Sure, your optics are designed to withstand a bit of rough and tumble in the field - their sturdy bodies and waterproof features can handle that. But the lenses? These delicate components are coated with special protective layers designed to improve light transmission. The catch is these coatings can be easily damaged if cleaned improperly.

So, what does this mean for you?

Well, it means you should only clean your scope lenses when absolutely necessary, such as when dirt or smudges affects visibility. And when you do clean them, you need to do so with the utmost care.

Steps For Cleaning Scope Lenses & Body

Your scope cleaning kit should include:

  • compressed air
  • lens brush
  • cleaning solutions
  • lint-free microfiber lens cloth or cleanroom swab

Step 1: Remove Large Particles

First off, you'll want to remove any large particles of dust or debris from your optic. It can be done using compressed air or a soft lens brush. Remember, we're dealing with delicate equipment here, so gentle is the way to go.

Step 2: Clean the Scope's Body

Next up, give the body of your scope a good wipe-down with a soft towel or cloth and some water. No need for any powerful cleaning agents here - water will do just fine.

In most cases, these two steps are enough. But if you still see debris, continue with the following steps.

Step 3: Take Care of Moving Parts

Now, if you've been out in the field in some less-than-ideal conditions (we're talking mud, rain, snow), you might have some stubborn debris lodged in the moving parts of your scope - remove them using a simple soft-bristled toothbrush. If your scope has been through the wringer, you might need to unscrew the turrets and carefully remove any debris using a Q-tip or microfiber cloth.

Step 4: Use Eyeglass Cleaner or Alcohol

Still seeing trouble spots? You may need to wet the lenses with a rifle scope cleaner recommended by the manufacturer, a generic eyeglass cleaner, or 90+% isopropyl alcohol. Unlike water, these evaporate quickly and leave fewer spots behind.

Once that's done, take a soft microfiber lens cloth or cleanroom swab and gently wipe the lenses in a spiral pattern, starting from the center and working your way out to the edge. It helps ensure you don't just push debris from one part of the lens to another.

Step 5: Repeat When It's Dry

Finally, leave your scope to dry before repeating any steps if necessary. And voila! Your scope should now be as clear as the day you bought it.

Preventive Maintainance

Now that we've got your scope all nice and clean, let's talk about how to keep it that way.

First up, keep the lenses covered when you're not using your optics. Exposed lenses can attract dust and debris like a magnet, so keep them protected with a scope cover or a scope lens cap.

Now when you're not using your guns and binoculars, keep them cased. It helps protect them from bumps and bruises as well as dust and other particles that could dirty your lenses.

Also, consider using an anti-fog solution on your lenses. Fogging can be a real problem in certain weather conditions, and an anti-fog solution causes moisture to bead, roll down, and don't build up.

What You Should Never Do

Alright, we've covered what you should do, now let's talk about what you absolutely should NOT do when cleaning your rifle scope.

Don't Use Lubes

It might seem like a good idea to keep everything running smoothly, but lubricants can attract dust and other particles that can harm your optics. Plus, they can cause all sorts of issues with the internal mechanisms of your scope.

Don't Use Abrasive Cleaning Materials

These include things like abrasive cleaners, rough sponges, coarse cloth, or anything else that could scratch your lenses or damage the finish on your scope.

No DIY Disassembling

Never unscrew any part of the scope that isn't intended to be removed by the end user. If you're having problems with your scope that can't be solved with a simple cleaning, it's time to consult a professional.


How often should I clean my scope lens?

Clean your scope only when dirt or smudges affect visibility. Don't overdo it, as frequent cleaning can damage to the lens coating.

Can I use a lubricant on my scope?

No, using lubricants on your scope is not recommended. Lubricants attract dust and other particles that can harm your optics.

How to clean the inside of a rifle scope?

Cleaning the inside of a rifle scope is not advised as it involves disassembling the scope, which can lead to damage if not done correctly. If you feel the inside needs cleaning, consult with a professional.

Can I use alcohol to clean the scope lens?

Yes, you can use 90+% isopropyl alcohol to clean your scope lens.

Aug 10th 2023 GRITR Outdoors

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