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How to Clean your Spotting Scope (in 5 Quick Steps)

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how to clean your spotting scope

Spotting scopes are built for the ruggedness of outdoor use, but that doesn’t mean you want to let them get wrecked by dirt.  Your spotting scope can have a long life if you know how to care for it properly.  Read on to learn the best way to keep your scope in top condition.

Related reads: The 8 things you should consider before buying a spotting scope

The Dos and Don’ts

Particulates are everywhere, and if you’re outdoors, they’re going to settle on your scope’s lenses and start scattering light, making your glassing a bit fuzzy.  You might be inclined to grab any old cloth and rub the lenses clean, but this is the fastest way to ruin your device.  Dust particles can be harder than glass, which means you’ll be rubbing them right in and scratching up the fine lens coating, as well.  There’s a right way to clean every device, but the first thing you should do is consult your owner’s manual to ensure you’re taking your model’s individual needs into account.  Overcleaning them isn’t ideal for lens lifespan, either, so try to go for moderation in cleaning frequency.  Then, when your device isn’t in use, make sure you cover the lens and place it in a clean, protective case.  This will keep your scope looking and performing its best.

spotting scope

Image credit: Tech. Sgt. Barry Loo, US Department of Defense

5 Steps for Proper Cleaning

What is the right way to clean your spotting scope?  Below are 5 steps to follow to ensure your scope is clean and free of damage when you’re done with it.

  1. Remove loose dirt. You’ll probably want to use a cleaning kit for this step.  Zeiss makes an excellent, affordable cleaning kit that contains a camel hair brush, a blower, and a lens-safe cleaning solution.  Don’t use your mouth to blow dirt from your lens, or you’ll trap dust in the fine moisture from your breath.  It’s also best to avoid compressed air, since it contains chemicals that could erode your lens coatings.  Instead, use the squeeze blower in your kit and the soft brush to remove all the dust particles before you start washing your lenses.
  2. Wash the lens. Don’t try using window or eyeglass cleaner for this step; they’re too harsh for the lens coating.  Instead, use a cotton swab and your lens-safe cleaning solution, making a smooth, circular motion until you’ve covered the entire lens surface.
  3. Dry the lens with a soft, microfiber cloth. It’s a good idea to keep a separate cloth just for lens cleaning, so it doesn’t pick up dirt from other parts of your spotting scope.  When you’re done cleaning, store it in a plastic bag to keep it dust-free for later.  Never use fibrous materials like facial tissue or paper towel, as you’ll leave a trail of fibers that will end up gouging the glass.
  4. Clean the body. Use your blower to free dust from the finer crevices in your device, then use a clean, wet cloth to wipe the surface down.  Take care not to smudge your clean lenses during this step.
  5. Store your scope carefully. Cap that lens, and if you have a carrying case, make sure you keep it stowed safely inside in a dry, clean place.
spotting scope on bird

Image credit: Hillebrand Steve, Pixnio

Protecting Your Investment

Never attempt to dismantle your spotting scope to clean inside it.  Chances are you’ll scratch the delicate glass inside, ruin any waterproofing components, and void your warranty in the process.  If you feel that the inside of your scope needs a deeper cleaning, contact the manufacturer and ask for cleaning recommendations.  Having a professional perform this step is crucial to protecting the life of your scope.  Remember, if you treat your spotting scope with care, it’ll serve you well for many long years.

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Header image credit: Hunting Mark, Flickr