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How to Remove Scratches from Camera Lens

Bret Leon Avatar
Bret Leon
31 May, 2022 • Updated 13 hours ago
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Camera Lens

No matter how diligent and clean you are with your gear, dust, fingerprints, or scratches will inevitably appear on your lenses. While removing dust and fingerprints from the lens is as simple as ABC, removing scratches requires a different cleaning approach. This is because the glass that makes up the front part of the lens is highly delicate and can damage easily.

A scratch or two won’t have any noticeable effect, and veteran shooters will agree that a scuff here or there isn’t that big of an issue. They only tend to make a tiny part of the image slightly blurrier. This is because the direction of the light shifts, making the contrast less stark. However, the difference will grow more pronounced and noticeable as the scratches worsen.

Now, many people may resort to sending the lens back to the manufacturer to get it fixed, but this is typically a very pricey option. Fortunately, scratches are fixable with some simple techniques depending on the extent of your lens’s scratches.

Therefore, if you notice scratches on your camera lens, don’t panic. Here are seven ways to remove scratches from your camera lens that will not cost you an arm or a leg.

1. Use Rubbing Alcohol

Alcohol is a versatile household product. It can be used as an antiseptic, disinfectant, and in this case, to help you remove scratches from your camera lens. Using alcohol is an easy and effective DIY method that many photographers use as opposed to buying a new lens. However, this doesn’t mean that any type of alcohol will do the trick. You’ll need to take extra care to do it properly to avoid causing irreversible damage.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to take you through the process of properly cleaning your camera lens with rubbing alcohol.

You’ll need:

  • A microfiber lens cleaning cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol (70%-99% Isopropyl alcohol)
  • Water
  • A cotton swab

Procedure:

  • Use the lens cleaning brush to remove any dust particles from your lens.
  • Use the microfiber lens cleaning cloth to wipe the lens in a circular motion.
  • Mix water with a rubbing alcohol solution at a concentration of 3.5%: the ratio of water to alcohol is 20 parts water to 1 part alcohol. (Do not apply rubbing alcohol directly on the surface of the lens)
  • With a clean microfiber cloth, soak up the alcohol solution.
  • Use the damp cloth to gently rub the scratch until it disappears.
  • Finally, use the dry portion of a microfiber cloth (or a new one) to dry the lens.

It’s important to remember that your camera lens is very sensitive. Using the rubbing alcohol method comes with its own set of risks. Therefore, you need to take caution not to damage the lens coating while trying to remove the scratches

2. Use Toothpaste

Toothpaste does more than just clean the teeth. The small micro-abrasive components found in toothpaste help in removing scratches from headlights, CDs, eyeglasses, and lenses. Combined with a controlled amount of force, it smoothes the area around the scratches leveling out the surface.

Here’s how to use toothpaste to remove scratches from your camera lens.

You’ll need:

  • A microfiber lens cleaning cloth
  • Toothpaste
  • Cotton swab

Procedure:

  • Clean the camera lens using the microfiber lens cleaning cloth.
  • Apply a small amount of toothpaste to the damp cotton swab.
  • After that, carefully scrub the scratches with toothpaste in a circular motion. Don’t apply too much pressure or force to avoid damaging the lens coating.
  • Wipe the lens using a microfiber cloth.

It’s worth mentioning that while the toothpaste works, it may remove the lens coating if you choose one that is coarse. Therefore, you need to be careful when you use it.

3. Use Vaseline

Using Vaseline is an old-school homemade DIY method of eliminating minor scratches on plastic surfaces. Unfortunately, Vaseline can only minimize major scratches but not remove them completely. Nevertheless, it’s a solution that won’t compromise your camera’s optics.

Here’s how to use Vaseline to remove scratches:

You’ll need:

  • A microfiber lens cleaning cloth
  • Vaseline

Procedure:

  • Wipe the lens with a microfiber cloth to remove any dust or dirt.
  • Apply a small amount of Vaseline to the lens’s surface.
  • Use a clean portion of the microfiber cloth to carefully rub the Vaseline until it’s completely clear. Make sure not to use excessive force.

This technique effectively removes the scratches from the camera lens, but you must repeat it semi-regularly since the Vaseline wears off over time.

4. Use a Glass Windscreen Polish

Glass windscreen polishers are a common sight in many people’s garages. With many drivers often getting scratches and chips from stones hitting their windscreen, the market is flooded with windscreen polishes of all types. As such, if you do not have one, you will not have any problem purchasing one from a nearby store.

There are a few stories floating around on photography forums of people using windscreen polish to remove scratches from their lenses and finding it works for them. If you want to use the same method, here’s how to go about it:

You’ll need:

  • Windscreen polish (with an advanced formula nano-coating protection)
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Cotton swab

Procedure:

  • Clean the lens with a microfiber cloth.
  • Dab a small amount of the polisher onto a flat surface.
  • Pick up a tiny portion of it using the tip of the microfiber cloth.
  • Gently rub the product along with the scratch on your camera lens until the scratch disappears.
  • Wipe the lens clean with a dry microfiber cloth.

For effective results, ensure you purchase a windscreen polish with nano-coating protection. The nano-coating has a unique ceramic molecular compound formula that adds a protective layer to your lens.

5. Use a Pencil Eraser

Although this technique has been around for a long time, it is still very effective. Not only does it work, but it poses no risk of damaging or removing the coating on the lens. All you need to do is pick a new pencil eraser that is not coarse or abrasive. Here’s how you can use the pencil eraser method to remove scratches from your lens:

You’ll need:

  • A microfiber cloth
  • A soft eraser

Procedure:

  • Use the microfiber cloth to clean the camera lens.
  • Using the soft eraser, carefully move it in the long direction of the scratch on the lens.
  • Repeat the procedure until the scratch is removed.
  • Clean the lens with a microfiber cloth.

6. Use Baking Soda and a Banana

What? Baking soda and banana? Yes. Using baking soda and bananas is also another DIY method of removing scratches on glass surfaces. Here is how to do it.

You’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Banana

Procedure:

  • Clean the camera lens using a microfiber cloth.
  • Remove the peel from the banana, then cut it into three equal pieces.
  • Take the center part of the chopped-up banana and dip it into baking soda.
  • Rub the banana over the scratch on the lens
  • Make sure to do it in a wiping motion for at least two minutes. Change the direction of the banana once the baking soda wears off any part.
  • Wipe the lens clean with a dry microfiber cloth

7. Use a Camera Lens Repair Kit

If taking your camera to a repair shop or using any DIY method isn’t an option, investing in a repair kit is highly recommended. The repair kits have tools that allow you to fix parts of your damaged lens. However, this entirely depends on the type of scratch your camera has sustained.

Furthermore, if you have no prior experience repairing a camera lens, it is best to leave it to the pros. Doing so will save you the pain of having to watch yourself doing more damage to your camera lens.

In Conclusion

Whether you left your camera in your camera bag without a lens cap or dropped it a few times, scratches are unavoidable. However, there are various methods and instruments to keep your lens scratch-free. Before attempting any of these hacks, it is essential that you properly analyze your lens.

If you try any of the methods mentioned above and the scratch is still present on the lens, you need to take it to a professional to get it repaired. Lastly, use a decent camera backpack and keep your lenses covered with their caps to prevent your lenses from getting scratched.

Bret Leon Avatar
Written by
Bret Leon
Bret Leon is a photography enthusiast who indulges in all matters cameras, lenses, gears, themes, editing, trends, and the latest product releases. If he's not trying to freeze time by capturing moments during his grand ventures, you can bet he's looking for the next big content idea.
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