We’ve all been there. You go to take a quick snap with your phone, and the image looks blurry, so you grab your shirt, blow on the lens and give the camera a rub to get a clearer shot. While the occasional buff with a soft item of clothing shouldn’t do any harm, there are better ways to clean your camera lens, here’s how.
Four Ways to clean the camera lens on your mobile phone
1. Use a cleaning pen to remove dust
If you’ve got a dusty phone camera lens, then a quick brush with a cleaning pen or a similar soft brush is usually all it takes. Cleaning pens come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some have a more delicate brush end while others have wider, fluffier brush ends. Use the appropriate size and say goodbye to dust.
If you do not want to buy a cleaning pen, then a clean, soft makeup brush will do the same job.
2. Use a microfiber cloth to buff away smudges
If your camera lens is blurry because it’s covered in fingerprints, then it’s going to need a gentle buff with a microfiber cloth. Unlike tissues that can leave dust particles on your lens, a microfibre cloth will wipe away smudges without leaving lint behind.
If you do not have a microfiber cloth, then any soft cloth will do a similar job so long as it hasn’t been washed in fabric softener (fabric softener can leave streaks on your camera lens).
3. Use a lens wipe for more stubborn grime
If you’ve been handling your camera lens after eating chicken wings, or it’s simply too gross for a quick rub with a cloth, then you’re going to want to try a lens wipe. Lens wipes are moistened with lens cleaner making them more effective against stubborn grease and grime.
Do not use regular wet wipes on your camera lens, as these often contain softeners that will make your lens even greasier.
4. Use a lens cleaner or a homemade version
Lastly, if you do not have a lens wipe, then you can use a dedicated lens cleaner, or a homemade version, on the corner of a microfibre cloth or soft tissue. Lens cleaners tend to be diluted solutions of alcohol.
If you do not want to buy a lens cleaner, then you can make one yourself by mixing a 50:50 ratio of 70% isopropyl alcohol and distilled water. If you want a smear-free finish, then do not use tap water.
How to remove condensation from your phone’s camera lens
Not all smartphones have an IP rating, especially if they are not a flagship. If your camera lens is foggy on the inside, then this means that moisture has managed to penetrate the camera housing and collect on the inside of your camera lens.
To get rid of this fog, you’re going to need to dry your phone out, which will help the moisture escape. The easiest way to do this is by placing your phone in an airtight container with silica gel packets or uncooked rice. These products will draw moisture out of your phone in approximately 24 hours.
While your phone is having a nice dry rice bath, it’s best to turn it off just in case the moisture has gotten deeper than you think and may cause problems with the internal electronics of your device.
While it can be tempting to put your phone on the radiator or blow it with a hairdryer, extreme temperatures can cause more harm than good. If your phone camera lens is still foggy after an overnight stay in rice or silica gel, then you’re best off taking it to a repair store. Unless you know what you are doing, we would advise against disassembling your phone to wipe the condensation from the inner side of the camera lens (and depending on your phone, this could even require disassembly of the camera module itself, in which case putting it back together becomes significantly more difficult).
How to protect your phones camera lens
If you want to keep your phone’s camera lens in mint condition for as long as possible, then it’s worth looking into lens protectors and also the correct screen protector for your phone to protect the front camera. Lens protectors stick to the glass of your camera lens and will protect it from scratches. While they too will eventually become dirty, their main draw is that you can easily replace them.
If you do not want to use a lens protector but want to keep your phone’s camera lens scratch-free, then a raised case will help keep the glass of your camera lens away from rough surfaces.
How not to clean your phone’s camera lens
We’ve covered how to clean your camera lens and how to get rid of condensation from underneath the glass; now it’s time to talk about how not to clean your phone’s camera.
1. Do not use domestic glass cleaner
Domestic glass cleaners such as Windex are often too harsh for the delicate coating of your phone’s camera lens. Steer clear of them and only use products specifically designed for lenses.
2. Do not use rough cloths
Microfiber cloths are soft for a reason. The rougher the cloth you use, the more chance there is of you scratching your camera lens. This goes for using dirty clothes too. Dirty clothes may already contain trapped grit, which can then be rubbed into your camera lens.
3. Do not use tap water
Lastly, while it’s a pain to have to buy distilled water, if you’re looking for a streak-free finish then you need to invest in the good stuff. Tap water contains minerals and other impurities which are left on your screen, leaving marks or residue that can make your camera lens still look dirty.
If in doubt, let the professionals do it
You may have noticed that we’ve not mentioned cleaning the inside of your phone’s camera lens, and for a good reason. If your camera lens needs cleaning from the inside, then we highly recommend you take it to a professional. Opening your phone’s camera housing will stop it from being watertight and can open up a whole can of worms. If in doubt, let someone with experience do it for you. Unfortunately, condensation can even build up on phones that are IP rated, and depending on what exactly the problem is, the solution may either be to leave it alone or to send it in for repairs. It gets trickier to advise without knowing the exact facts of the case, so we recommend letting an expert take a look.
If you need some more help, we also have guides on how to clean your phone screen and how to clean your phone’s speaker grille.