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04-12-2016, 01:29 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Method I Used

I found that using a mixture of half 91% isopropyl alcohol and half distilled water, along with cotton fabric that I bought was effective in cleaning my Hoya NDX400 9 stop ND filter and Hoya UV (C) filter. I used a small piece of the cotton cloth, just barely got it damp with the solution, and wiped the filter lightly in circles in all areas including the edges. Then I took another piece of cotton cloth and after a few seconds of the solution drying, I wiped the filter again very lightly in the same manner to dry it. The filter was very clean, with no spots. It is my intention to not clean filters or lenses often or when it is not necessary, but if I have to, I have found that this method has really been successful for me. Of course, it is completely someone elses' decision to make if they want to use it or not, but I have personally found it to be a successful method with no evident negative effect on the filter(s). I purchased the isopropopyl alcohol and distilled water at Wal Mart for approximately under $4.

The solution dries quickly without causing spotting, and the cotton fabric which I purchased in the "fabrics" area of Wal Mart at a requested length (also inexpensive) is recommended due to its non-abrasive quality (softness).

So, as I said, it is a personal decision for anyone to make, and I avoid cleaning my lenses or filters frequently and will not do it unless it is completely necessary, but this method really worked for me.

04-12-2016, 01:41 PM   #2
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Did you find this mixture to perform better than standard optical glass cleaner? I get the little bottles from my eyeglass place. Not sure what is in it though.

I have found that I prefer 'micro-fiber' cloths to cotton. Cheap and washable. I always carry a couple stuffed in my camera bag.
04-12-2016, 01:55 PM   #3
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That's good to hear that you found a solution that works for you. Did your method leave any streaks or smears? If you shine a light across the surface you will be able to see. Sometimes glass will look perfectly clear and clean in ambient light or if shining the light directly at/through the glass.

I went through the same thing trying to get my lenses perfectly clean with no streaks, smears or residue. I was using Rosco cleaning solution and lens tissue. This method left smears and residue and it was very frustrating trying to get rid of them. They just wouldn't go away. Then I purchased Formula MC, apparently used by NASA and claimed to leave no smears or residue. It was much better but still left streaks using lens tissue unless I wiped the lens immediately after applying the solution, and even then it wouldn't be completely smear free. I finally found what works best for me and leaves no streaks - a microfiber cloth.

Using Formula MC and a microfiber cloth leaves the surface spotless. This is the method I plan to continue using. Plus Formula MC is cheap and safe for lens coatings and does not have that chemical smell or look to it.
04-12-2016, 03:42 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Did you find this mixture to perform better than standard optical glass cleaner? I get the little bottles from my eyeglass place. Not sure what is in it though.

I have found that I prefer 'micro-fiber' cloths to cotton. Cheap and washable. I always carry a couple stuffed in my camera bag.

I haven't used/bought the "standard optical glass cleaner", like the bottled type that I used with my K-1000/lenses for a real long time. I found a little bottle of it not too long ago in a cleaning kit which included one of those blower brushes also that I bought long ago. I hesitated to use it on my newer filters though, not knowing what the results would be. I had used microfiber cloths before also, but switched to the cotton fabric per some research I did on the internet, it supposedly being the less abrasive. I got a certain length of it at the fabrics area of the Wal Mart off of a big roll. It is really soft. I know that if you do not clean too often, as long as the cloth is for the most part not abrasive, it may be alright, but cotton was referred to as being the least, so I used that.

I have read ingredients labels on some "optical glass cleaners", and some mention isopropyl alcohol. The mixture I used was mentioned somewhere on the internet, that is where I found out about it.

04-12-2016, 03:49 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
I haven't used/bought the "standard optical glass cleaner", like the bottled type
Thanks. I'll have to check the bottle and see what mine is. I did have some little bottles that came with cleaning kits and brushes but I've never trusted those as they were not real clear on what the ingredients were. Mine came from my optician.
04-12-2016, 03:58 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by a5m Quote
That's good to hear that you found a solution that works for you. Did your method leave any streaks or smears? If you shine a light across the surface you will be able to see. Sometimes glass will look perfectly clear and clean in ambient light or if shining the light directly at/through the glass.

I went through the same thing trying to get my lenses perfectly clean with no streaks, smears or residue. I was using Rosco cleaning solution and lens tissue. This method left smears and residue and it was very frustrating trying to get rid of them. They just wouldn't go away. Then I purchased Formula MC, apparently used by NASA and claimed to leave no smears or residue. It was much better but still left streaks using lens tissue unless I wiped the lens immediately after applying the solution, and even then it wouldn't be completely smear free. I finally found what works best for me and leaves no streaks - a microfiber cloth.

Using Formula MC and a microfiber cloth leaves the surface spotless. This is the method I plan to continue using. Plus Formula MC is cheap and safe for lens coatings and does not have that chemical smell or look to it.
I do exactly what you mentioned, look under a light letting it reflect, and found no streaks or marks. The 91% isopropyl alcohol causes the solution to dry without spotting or streaks. The distilled water is different than regular water, being more pure. It cleans along with the alcohol, but dries quickly with the presence of the alcohol in the mixture. Today I opened a new Hoya UV (C) filter I bought, and found a small streak on one side. I used the mixture with the cotton cloth and it came right off. I had previously used my Hoya NDX400 to do some long exposure shooting by a wavy lake shore, and later I found that the water (fresh water) had splashed some small spots on it. I used the solution on it and it wiped clear/clean.

The solution I use is carefully homemade, and surprisingly it works in an excellent way, costing only about 5 dollars. I know some of the optical cleaners are presently available, and some like what you use really work. It is a personal decision on what to use, and I found the solution (91% isopropyl alcohol and distilled water) does it effectively with no damage on the filters I mentioned. Having a reliable cleaner is nice as opposed to wasting money on over the counter cleaners that are possibly ineffective and are only about 3-5 ounces.

I am glad that you have found the MC cleaner to be effective for you. Also, I am glad I have found and used the solution/cloth I mentioned effectively for cleaning.

Last edited by C_Jones; 04-12-2016 at 04:35 PM.
04-12-2016, 04:04 PM   #7
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I use to buy the bottle cleaner until I found out that it is isopropyl alcohol and distilled water. I now make my own solution like C-Jones described, except I use micro fiber cloth instead of a cotton cloth. In my bag though I keep a bunch of those wrapped lens cleaners, their easier to carry.
04-12-2016, 04:33 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wingincamera Quote
I use to buy the bottle cleaner until I found out that it is isopropyl alcohol and distilled water. I now make my own solution like C-Jones described, except I use micro fiber cloth instead of a cotton cloth. In my bag though I keep a bunch of those wrapped lens cleaners, their easier to carry.
Nice to see you have used the isopropyl alcohol/distilled water solution also. I am so happy with the results I have gotten, and the savings are certainly substantial. I read about it on the internet.

I used to use a microfiber cloth also, but I was able to get some 100% cotton muslin material from Wal Mart off of a fabric roll inexpensively and it seems to be softer and absorb better.

Anyway, it is good to see that someone else is getting safe/effective results using the solution.

---------- Post added 04-12-16 at 07:57 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Thanks. I'll have to check the bottle and see what mine is. I did have some little bottles that came with cleaning kits and brushes but I've never trusted those as they were not real clear on what the ingredients were. Mine came from my optician.
One reason I use this solution is because it is definitely "ammonia free", and I have seen commendations on "ammonia free" being safer. The isopropanol ingredient is present in modern cleaners for optical elements. I will not mention product names, but isopropanol is another name for the isopropyl alcohol element.

04-12-2016, 05:04 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
I do exactly what you mentioned, look under a light letting it reflect, and found no streaks or marks. The 91% isopropyl alcohol causes the solution to dry without spotting or streaks. The distilled water is different than regular water, being more pure. It cleans along with the alcohol, but dries quickly with the presence of the alcohol in the mixture. Today I opened a new Hoya UV (C) filter I bought, and found a small streak on one side. I used the mixture with the cotton cloth and it came right off. I had previously used my Hoya NDX400 to do some long exposure shooting by a wavy lake shore, and later I found that the water (fresh water) had splashed some small spots on it. I used the solution on it and it wiped clear/clean.

The solution I use is carefully homemade, and surprisingly it works in an excellent way, costing only about 5 dollars. I know some of the optical cleaners are presently available, and some like what you use really work. It is a personal decision on what to use, and I found the solution (91% isopropyl alcohol and distilled water) does it effectively with no damage on the filters I mentioned. Having a reliable cleaner is nice as opposed to wasting money on over the counter cleaners that are possibly ineffective and are only about 3-5 ounces.

I am glad that you have found the MC cleaner to be effective for you. Also, I am glad I have found and used the solution/cloth I mentioned effectively for cleaning.
I'm also glad you found this solution and shared your experience. I may try out your method since it is effective and affordable. Plus there's a joy in using something you made yourself.

I'm guessing you would not get the same results if you had just used tap water. I think distilled water is the key here.

I think the bottom line is that the material you use to wipe the solution on the lens is what's important. I tried the lens tissues but those didn't work. I bought three types, the Rosco ones, Kimwipes, and the ones made by the same company that makes Formula MC. They all didn't do a good job with removing all streaks and smears and required way more effort than necessary to get a mostly perfectly clean surface. I think a cotton cloth like you used or a microfiber cloth is best.
04-12-2016, 05:14 PM   #10
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Well, I checked the bottle of optician recommended stuff I've been using and all it says is: "environmentally safe, alcohol and ammonia free". Hmm, so does that mean it's just distilled water?

I might be making a batch of @C_Jones homebrew.
04-12-2016, 05:41 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by a5m Quote
I'm also glad you found this solution and shared your experience. I may try out your method since it is effective and affordable. Plus there's a joy in using something you made yourself.

I'm guessing you would not get the same results if you had just used tap water. I think distilled water is the key here.

I think the bottom line is that the material you use to wipe the solution on the lens is what's important. I tried the lens tissues but those didn't work. I bought three types, the Rosco ones, Kimwipes, and the ones made by the same company that makes Formula MC. They all didn't do a good job with removing all streaks and smears and required way more effort than necessary to get a mostly perfectly clean surface. I think a cotton cloth like you used or a microfiber cloth is best.
This is something that I have to point out. The 100% cotton has the ability to absorb very well, and it is a factor in using a cleaner to effectively clean the optical glass without leaving streaks/spots of fluid behind. As I said I use one small piece to get a dab of the solution and do the cleaning, then I use another small dry piece to wipe/dry the surface. If you use the solution I am describing, you will notice after first using the dab of solution (wiping with solution) that the solution will start to dry almost right away by itself, so after a few seconds just complete the process by doing the dry wipe with the second cloth lightly. The type cotton cloth I got at Wal Mart in the sewing/fabrics dept. where they have the rolls of cloth is 100% cotton, sort of like off white muslin. It came on about a yard long roll, and I got something near a foot of it for under two dollars. Basically I got a 1 foot by 1 yard piece (2 yards if it was double folded on the roll). I just cut off small pieces as I need it and keep the big piece in a plastic bag to avoid dust. I also have this small, clear, plastic container that is only about 1 inch x 1 inch that has a white snap on lid that I keep a small amount of the solution in to use when I want to. I got a pack of about 6 of them at a "Dollar Tree" store (for a dollar). If you get the isopropyl alcohol, the type I got at Wal Mart was 91% (32 ounce), not the weaker more common type.

---------- Post added 04-12-16 at 09:15 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Well, I checked the bottle of optician recommended stuff I've been using and all it says is: "environmentally safe, alcohol and ammonia free". Hmm, so does that mean it's just distilled water?

I might be making a batch of @C_Jones homebrew.
It may possibly be, you would only find out by seeing a list of its' actual ingredients though. Distilled water does dry more clearly than regular tap water.

I wanted to mention to you that the absorption capability of the 100% cotton is one of the other reasons I use it instead of the microfiber cloth. The 100% cotton muslin is what I use as I mentioned in an earlier post.

So, if you whip up a batch, it is only going to cost you approximately under 4 dollars (Wal Mart) for both the 91% Isopropyl Alcohol and gallon of Great Value (Wal Mart brand) distilled water. The cloth as I mentioned is most likely available there also (100% cotton white or off-white muslin) on rolls. It was only about $1.50 for an approximately 1 foot x 1 yard (2 yard if double folded on fabric roll) piece.

I really had success with the solution, and you usually only have to use a small dab of it on the cotton cloth.

Last edited by C_Jones; 04-12-2016 at 08:56 PM.
04-12-2016, 06:31 PM   #12
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I'm definitely going to start using your solution. But I've already got a dozen micro-fiber cloths so I think I'll stick with them. No doubt the cotton is better but I already have these and I'm used to carrying them.

Thanks again for the very useful post.
04-12-2016, 07:22 PM   #13
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You're welcome.

Here are just a couple stats I wanted to note for you.

The bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol I got for under 3 dollars at Wal Mart was 32 ounces, and the gallon of Great Value distilled water (Wal Mart) was about 88 cents. So mixing half/half (most likely not all at once), you will get approximately 64 ounces out of those containers with distilled water left over.
04-12-2016, 07:31 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
This is something that I have to point out. The 100% cotton has the ability to absorb very well, and it is a factor in using a cleaner to effectively clean the optical glass without leaving streaks/spots of fluid behind. As I said I use one small piece to get a dab of the solution and do the cleaning, then I use another small dry piece to wipe/dry the surface. If you use the solution I am describing, you will notice after first using the dab of solution (wiping with solution) that the solution will start to dry almost right away by itself, so after a few seconds just complete the process by doing the dry wipe with the second cloth lightly. The type cotton cloth I got at Wal Mart in the sewing/fabrics dept. where they have the rolls of cloth is 100% cotton, sort of like off white muslin. It came on like a yard long roll, and I got something like a foot of it for under two dollars. Basically I got a 1 foot by 1 yard piece. I just cut off small pieces as I need it and keep the big piece in a plastic bag to avoid dust. I also have this small, clear, plastic container that is only about 1 inch x 1 inch that has a white snap on lid that I keep a small amount of the solution in to use when I want to. I got a pack of about 6 of them at a "Dollar Tree" store (for a dollar). If you get the isopropyl alcohol, the type I got at Wal Mart was 91%., not the weaker more common type.
What you say makes sense in regards to the ability of the material to absorb. I couldn't put my finger on it but that must be the reason why cloth works so much better.

I've seen the fabric section at Walmart. I may have to follow suit and do the same and buy that cloth. I appreciate you telling us exactly where you purchased everything. I think I'd prefer to buy new cloth rather than washing it and reusing. I don't expect to clean my lenses every time I use them so I probably won't go through it so quickly. I'm not comfortable with the thought of chemicals and/or grit that may get lodged in the cloth after you wash it possibly causing surface scratches on the glass. That is something I want to avoid at all costs.
04-12-2016, 07:48 PM   #15
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The cleaning fluid supplied with new glasses from my optician is definitely to be avoided. Too many compounds I think.
OK for getting finger marks off glasses. Spit or distilled water works better on lenses. I use cleaning solution originally supplied with kits for cleaning vinyl LP records. It's quite good. I might add there used to be controversy that it was nothing more than distilled water!
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