cleaning optics


May 26, 2006, 07:56 PM
I didnt think about this until I found a smudge on my scope today,I just used some windex and a rag.Can any one tell me if this is the proper way to clean a scope?

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cracked butt
May 26, 2006, 08:17 PM
The windex is too harsh for the coatings but at least you didn't consider using a Kleenex which is worse, buy a camera lens cleaning kit.

Zak Smith
May 27, 2006, 02:47 AM
How to Clean Optics, from US Optics

May 27, 2006, 03:44 AM
The best stuff for cleaning optics is U.S.P. Collodion (well not true, ion glow discharge cleaning in a vacuum bell jar is better but unless you are working on a lense for hubble its a bit overkill). Its about the only common substance that won't cause minute damage, and works wonders on optics from various things such as rifle scopes, telescopes, microscopes. It is put on in layers where it dries and you peel it off. You can get it from most drug stores. Just paint it on with camal hair brush or spray it on. While its still sticky add a layer of cheese cloth or surgical gauze. Wait till its dry and then it peels off in a sheet and results in the cleanest optics I have seen.

Other recommended uses are the Charles E. Daniel Observatory, in South Carolina for their main telescope, its that good.

May 27, 2006, 07:40 AM
Keep the lenses covered with dust proof and waterproof caps.
If possible have clear optical glass covers made and put screw-on or flip-up covers over them.This is why all my scopes have Butler Creek flip caps. I can't remember ever having to clean any of them. Open when you shoot and closed other least you didn't consider using a Kleenex which is worse,
you can either use Kleenex or sandpaper. It's about the same. The dry rag falls in about the same category. It picks up particles of dirt and grinds them across the coated surfaces. I carry a camera cleaning kit. If it's good enough for multi-thousand dollar camera lenses, it should be good for my scopes.

May 27, 2006, 08:02 AM
Is that correct? Acetone? I would have thought that was much too harsh. It says filtered. Is that the same acetone I have in the garage?

My rifles have been standing in a vertical case for years. Granted its my fault but there are mounds of dust on the uncovered lenses.

I don't know, the acetone scares me.
I'm gonna blow them off with some compressed air and use the q-tip with some eyeglass cleaner.


May 27, 2006, 08:39 AM
Either buy a camera lens cleaning kit or go to Lenscrafters (or similar eye glass store) buy some of their lens cleaning solution and lens cloths. The lenses for eye glasses often have similar coatings to other forms of optics.
If you want an education on all the different forms of optics for the human eye, spend a year working in a lab that produces eye glasses.

May 27, 2006, 10:56 AM
Compressed computer air is great for blasting off the chunks to avoid scratching the lens or coatings, I then use a q-tip with isopropyl alcohol clean the rest of the junk off.
You can lift most of the dirt up with the q-tip and dry with another q-tip or lens cloth.

May 27, 2006, 12:15 PM
I agree with the rubbing alcohol and Q-tip method. Ive done it a few times, and it works great.

May 27, 2006, 01:20 PM
Just watch out become rubbing alcohol will leave a thin film on the optics, and can cause minute damage to the coating layers on the glass on more expensive scopes.
May 27, 2006, 02:07 PM
Great thread, I was surprised to read that US Optics didn't recommend the lens pens given that many other manufacturers recommend their own lens pens! Either way the acetone method is much cheaper than lens pens.

May 29, 2006, 09:06 PM
If you use rubbing alcohol for cleaning glass (I'm not sure what it does to lens coatings) make sure you use the 98% pure. Most of the rubbing alcohol you find on the store shelf is 50% Alcohol and the rest is relitivly dirty water that leaves horible watermarks.

May 30, 2006, 11:01 PM
I went to the US Optics page and read their information. Several of the suggestions and pointers were very surprising to me.

1. Don't take a scope from a warm area to a cold area as the change in temperature can over come the dessicant in the scope and result in fogging. Isn't that backwards? (cold surfaces condense moisture, not warm ones)
And the scopes I have are "O" ring sealed and nitrogen purged to prevent internal fogging. Aren't nearly all quality scopes constructed that way now?

2. Don't put water on the lenses/ glass as water will attack the coating and the glass. I get that water is not the best cleaning agent for glass, but water attacking the coating and the glass? They make it sound like hunting in the rain is out of the question and that you need to religiously keep water away from the lenses as glass and the magnesium flouride coating is hygroscopic and unstable. That is not consistent with my experience with my Leupold, Nikon, B&L Elite and Sightron rifle scopes.

3. The recommendation for clear optical glass scope covers is OK, but should include the suggestion for coating the scope covers to preserve light transmission performance, which will then result in similar care recommendations? Though even coated glass scope covers would affect light transmission performance to some degree. And if damaged, the covers would be replacable at far less cost than a new rifle scope or new lens in the scope. Clear lens covers make a lot more sense to me than flip ups when actually carrying the rifle. I always wondered how I was supposed to know when to flip up those things anyway...

This subject was interesting to me so I did a little more googling on lens coatings. It seems magnesium flouride coating is HARD, over 400 RC. Stainless steel is about 160. So that coating is pretty robust and scratch resistant. I looked around for a while to try to learn more about the relative hardness of the multi coat materials, but wasn't able to find much that was meaningful to me. Bottom line? I don't think you need to baby rifle scopes, but do give them reasonable care. Remove dust and grit with a jet of air or a lens brush that you can get at any camera shop. After that, any good quality lens care solution and lens tissue or lens cloth will get it done.

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