Whether your kid is an astronomy enthusiast stargazing into deep space with your refractor telescope or using a reflector telescope that mirrors the brighter stars, planets, and moon eclipse in the night sky, the telescope lens, mirrors, and eyepieces need cleaning. 

Teach your child how to clean a telescope lens so that your amateur astronomer won’t accidentally damage the lens or be afraid to clean the lenses and eyepieces. We’ve set out the cleaning process in easy-to-follow steps so your kid can clean their reflector telescope lens themselves or help you with your refractor telescope lens. 

Any kid interested in astronomy will soon see the difference between stargazing through a clean and dirty telescope lens. Of course, they’ll be keen to learn how to keep their telescope lens clean and ready for astronomy action at any time – you won’t have to remind them. 

Save Time and Money By Protecting Your Telescope Lens – Dust Prevention Is Better Than Cleaning

Scratching the lens is always a concern; even gentle cleaning can cause it. Don’t get the telescope lenses dirty in the first place, and you can worry less about scratches. However, it’s impossible to keep specks of dust particles and oils off the telescope lenses; just like you need to clean reading glasses, the eyepieces and lenses of a telescope and binoculars get dirty.

You won’t have to clean your telescope lens often if you keep the lens caps on when you aren’t using the telescope (or binoculars or camera). Storing the telescope tubes sideways instead of upright also reduces dust settling on the primary mirror. Finally, cap eyepieces on both ends and never directly touch the surface area of the telescope mirror or lens with your fingers; you’ll leave fingerprints, and the acids in skin oil will damage the optical coatings over time. 

Large dust particles on telescope lenses, eyepieces, and mirrors scatter light, reducing the collection and magnification effectiveness. Then when your young, amateur astronomer looks at the night sky, searching for the moon, Mars, other planets, and galaxies, the experience is not what they expected because the contrast between dark skies and crisp, clear vision of objects isn’t sufficient. 

Although it’s important to have clean lenses and primary and secondary mirrors, you will always find specks of dust on the lenses, especially when shining a light on them. Avoid the temptation of removing all the dust all the time, abrasive cleaning and cleaning too often also cause scratches that could be more significant damage eventually than a few specks of dust particles.

The key is to prevent dust from accumulating on your lenses. Then you only have to clean when necessary because there is always the chance of scratching the telescope lenses and mirrors. 

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Best Way To Clean Your Telescopes’ Lens and Eyepieces

Well, you can send it to the professionals for cleaning or make it a fun DIY project for you and your kids. Most professional binocular, camera, and telescope sellers have telescope cleaning kits.

Only Do As Much Cleaning As Is Necessary For Your Telescope

Whether you’re a professional or amateur astronomer, you don’t have to go through all the cleaning steps every time you clean your telescope lens; it depends on how dirty the telescope lens is, how often your kid does stargazing into the night sky at planets, or whether it has been gathering dust in storage. 

Take your time but stop when the lenses are clean. If that is after the first step, great, you don’t have to do anything else.

Step One – Use Compressed Air To Remove Dust From a Telescope Lens

Use compressed air to avoid damaging the telescope lenses (or lenses on binoculars). 

  • Avoid shaking the compressed air can before use.
  • Next, make sure you vent the jet of gas away from the lenses. You don’t want specks of dust in the line blown onto your lenses, increasing the risk of scratching the lenses.
  • Then, to clean the telescope lens, hold the compressed air can upright while slowly moving it across the telescope lens. Beginners can hold the can still and move the lens across the spray for even distribution.

A safer and easier option for children and beginners is using the air blower in the cleaning kit instead of the compressed air gas can. 

  •  First, remove the brush attachment from the bulb air blower.
  • The bulb mechanism sucks clean air into the air blower.
  • Next, squeeze the bulb to blow the air through the nozzle across the telescope lens, removing specks of dust and particles without directly touching the lens surface area.

The third method is a fun DIY exercise for kids. Although you don’t want water drops from your budding astronomer’s spittle on the binocular gear or telescope lens, they can use their breath to get rid of the dust and particles. Instead of blowing air out, they suck it in. 

You can buy compressed air or optical cleaning kits from most professional binoculars, camera, and telescope sellers. Telescope cleaning kits include all the tools you need to clean the telescope, binocular lenses, and eyepiece lenses.

Step Two – Use a (VERY SOFT) Brush on your Telescope Lens

To clean the remaining grime and dirt, use a very soft brush like the one in the telescope cleaning kit. Make sure the brush is very soft, so it doesn’t scratch. You should always keep the anti-static brush in a dust protection bag.

  • Before use, remove all dust particles with the air blower from the brush.
  • Very gently flick off the remaining dust from the telescope lens with the soft brush without directly touching the lens surface with your hands.
  • You can use the bulb air blower with the soft brush for more satisfactory results.

If your telescope lens equipment is clean, skip the rest of the steps.

Step Three – Use A Dry Microfibre Cloth (or Tissues) to Clean The Telescope Lens

If fingerprints or eyelash oils are on the lenses from touching the lens surface area or holding the eyepiece lenses too close to your eyes, this step will remove it.

  • Rub the lens surface with the dry microfibre cloth from the telescope lens cleaning kit or use non-perfumed facial tissues.
  • Do not use water; the moisture from your breath is sufficient.
  • Fog the lens surface, and with a gentle rubbing motion, remove the oil and water spots. Take a clean piece of the microfibre cloth or facial tissue each time. 

By now, most telescope lenses should be clean and ready for astronomy leisure, and you can pack away the cleaning kit. However, if there is still stubborn dirt remaining, then proceed to the next step. 

Step Four – Use A Wet Microfiber Cloth & Telescope Lens Cleaning Solution

To remove stubborn oils and grease, wet the microfiber cloth with telescope lens cleaning solution or isopropyl alcohol; just a few drops of isopropyl alcohol are enough. Do not drop the isopropyl alcohol directly onto the lens surface. Under no circumstances should you do this because the telescope lens cleaning fluid will pull all the grease into the telescope lens or eyepieces. 

Take the wet microfiber cloth and clean the telescope lens with a gentle circular motion. Another way to clean the lenses is to wipe with a gentle motion from the middle of the lenses or mirrors to the cleaner outer edge. The ideal tools to clean stubborn grease particles are a drop of telescope lens cleaning solution (or isopropyl alcohol) and Q-tip earbuds.

Step Five – Have Fun, Be Patient While Cleaning Your Telescope Optics

It’s important to keep your astrophotography camera and telescope equipment clean but not tricky – your child can do it. Be patient and gentle and have fun; it’s part of being an amateur astronomer, looking after and keeping your stargazing equipment clean.

Avoid abrasive cleaning methods, and don’t be in a hurry when cleaning the telescope lenses and mirrors. Don’t rub hard; always be gentle when cleaning binocular or telescope lenses and mirrors.

What About Cleaning The Eyepiece Lens Of My Telescope

You can follow the same steps you used cleaning your telescope lenses and mirrors to clean the telescope eyepieces. 

While you could ignore a few specks of dust particles on telescope lenses, the eyepiece is a different scenario. Keeping dust-protective lens caps on telescope eyepieces and lenses will reduce dust accumulation, and you don’t have to clean the lenses often because they are protected from dust.

However, it’s not always easy to keep your telescope lenses clean; simple things like the oils of eyelashes can dirty eyepieces. Beginners learning to use a telescope will bring the eyepieces too close to their eyes, pushing against eyelashes that smudge the lenses. They may also touch the eyepiece surface area with their fingers leaving an oil residue. 

These steps are basic cleaning processes to remove dust particles, eyelash, and fingerprint smudges from your telescope lenses, eyepieces, mirrors, corrector plates, and the lens on a refractor telescope. Begin at step one with the bulb air blower and clean as needed. Do not take your telescope apart unless you have no other choice; you may interfere with the alignment. Telescope lenses and eyepieces with fungus, films, grease, and oil need special cleaning techniques; taking your telescope to professional cleaning services is recommended. 

What Materials Should I NEVER USE while cleaning my Telescope?

There are some materials you should never use to clean telescope optics. 

  • Acetone – While acetone is a good cleaner for grease spots and is safe to use in terms of residue, it can cause a flash fire, making it a hazard, especially if kids use it.
  • Nail polish remover – Most nail polish removers contain acetone solvents, and acetone fluid can dissolve the plastic around the edges of the telescope lens. Nail polish remover can also leave a film on the telescope lens or eyepieces. 
  • Cleaning liquids with perfume – Avoid using facial tissues or cleaning fluids with fragrance because lotions and perfumes will leave a film on the telescope lens.
  • Paper towels – A microfibre cloth or soft facial tissues are preferred to perfumed cloths and materials like paper towels that contain fibers that can scratch the lenses. 
  • Vacuums – Although it seems like a vacuum cleaner and other equipment with strong suction properties can get rid of dust particles; the suction is too powerful for cleaning telescope lenses, eyepieces, and mirrors. Instead, use a bulb air blower or compressed gas can that is less abrasive on the lenses. 
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