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

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Girl looking through 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. 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. 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.

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How to Clean Your Spotting Scope

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.

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 a squeeze blower and a soft brush to remove all the dust particles before you start washing your lenses.

Pro Tip

It’s probably a good idea to get a cleaning kit for this step.

There are several great telescope cleaning kits available online (like this one from Altura) that contain a camel hair brush, a blower, and a lens-safe cleaning solution..

telescope lens cleaning kit

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.

microfiber cloth

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.

Make sure you cap that lens, and if you have a carrying case, make sure you keep it stowed safely inside in a dry, clean place.

Dos & Don'ts of Cleaning Your Spotting Scope

Read the owner's manualUse your fingers to wipe the lenses
Use a blower or fine brush to clear loose debrisUse a cloth not suited for the task
Use a cotton swab and lens cleanerUse your breath to moisten the lenses
Rub in a circular motionClean too often
Cap the lenses when dryTake the scope apart to clean it

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When to Seek Professional Help

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.

spotting scope image in day light

Our other cleaning guides:

Header Image Credit: ESOlex, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.