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Many times, photographers and videographers find themselves in situations whereby the camera lens is dirty. And might not have all the required cleaning kits. What happens then? Does one run to the nearest stall to buy unbudgeted cleaning kits? Clean the lens with their palm or just any material found around or worst case do nothing about a dirty lens?  A simple solution is converting everyday items like a microfiber cloth, toothbrushes to mention but a few, into camera lens cleaners. These items have been proven to be as effective as cleaning kits. This piece discusses the step by step tips on how to clean a camera lens without a cleaning kit. Enjoy the read.

Household items improvised for cleaning lens

Cleaning the camera lens as often as possible protects it and preserves it in the photographer’s worker. Although, there are times that cleaning kits are not within the reach of the cameraman. Either packing the kits to a photoshoot location is an extra burden or cleaning kits are expensive to acquire.

There are several items in the house that can work as effectively as cleaning kits. These items are cheap and also easy to carry about. However, when choosing household items for cleaning lenses, go for items that will not scratch or damage the lens. 

Suggested below are household items photographers and filmmakers can use to clean a camera without a cleaning kit;

  • Kitchen baster

The primary task of cleaning a camera lens is to remove dust particles embedded on and around it. Typically, a puffer in a cleaning kit is used to rid the lens to a larger extent of dust and other solid debris. 

However, a kitchen (turkey) baster can be used to work the same magic as a puffer. This is done by pressing the rubber nozzle to air out dust from the surface and corners of the camera lens.

  • Toothbrushes

Old toothbrushes can be used in place of lens brushes to clean the camera lens. However, only toothbrushes with soft bristles should be used. The bristles will remove dust particles trapped within the builts of the camera lens. 

  • Alcohol-based cleaning wipes

Wipes for glasses usually are damp and alcohol-based. They can be used instead of camera lens wipes to remove stubborn oily smudges from the lens. The result will leave the camera lens shiny and spot-free.

  • Microfiber cloth

Not all fabrics can be used to clean camera lenses because some materials are abrasive and scratch the surface of the lens. Although microfiber cloth is suitable for cleaning a lens, it is also cheap. 

For photographers that use glasses, glasses always come with a microfiber cloth. In tight corners, one can easily convert the fabric into a lens cleaner. However, a dirty microfiber cloth will make the lens messier.

  • Exhaled Breath

The human breath is not necessarily a household item, but it fits into the list. By simply exhaling on the camera lens can replace the use of a cleaning solution. The exhaled breath will form a mist of moisture on the surface, which dissolves dirt and makes it easy to be wiped off using a cloth.

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The human breath is a very cheap method for cleaning camera lenses, since the lung is always with the cameraman whenever there’s a need to clean the lens.

Also read: How to Choose a Camera Lens

Cleaning a camera lens without a cleaning kit

No matter how careful one may be in handling a camera, there will always be a case of a dirty lens. This is because dust particles are everywhere, and they readily settle on the camera lenses; not only that, other factors such as fog, prints, and oil also make a camera lens dirty.

Sometimes grimes on camera lenses are unnoticeable, only to realize after taking a picture that there are imperfections in the work done. That can be heartbreaking as blotches result in poor-quality jobs. Hence, a photographer must adopt the habit of cleaning camera lenses before use. 

To clean a camera lens without a cleaning kit is an effortless task and can be easily carried out using household items. Here are some crucial tips on how to clean a camera lens with household items;

  • Tip 1: Use a blower or turkey baster to remove dust

This is the first and essential step on how to clean a camera lens without lens cleaner. It is already established that dust unavoidably settles on the lens’ surface. With a turkey baster, dust particles can be removed with ease. 

Squeeze the baster’s nozzle as many times as possible to introduce air to the lens. Continual pumping of air will remove dust and every other particle deposited on the surface of the lens. 

However, it is worthy of mention that air should not be introduced with the mouth because moisture in saliva can be introduced to the lens. The saliva will leave streak prints on the lens.

  • Tip 2: Use an eyeglass cleaning solution or breath

After successfully removing dirt, the next step on how to properly clean camera lenses is to eliminate oil or grease from the lens; an alcohol base liquid is needed to lift oil. An eyeglass cleaning solution is a perfect example of an alcohol-based liquid. 

Spray a microfiber cloth about two times with the solution and gently rub the surface of the camera lens.

However, in cases where an eyeglass solution is unavailable, the human breath is another viable option. First, gently breathe out on the camera lens once or twice to blur the lens. Then, use a soft cloth to wipe the surface.  

  • Tip 3: With a microfiber cloth, wipe the lens

Now with the aid of microfiber cloth (1), wipe the surface of the camera lens. Wiping should be done circularly from the center to the outer parts. The idea is to remove dirt neatly without leaving any streak behind. If cleaning is done from the outer part to the center, dirt may be dragged along the line creating more work to do.

Also, another technique used to clean a camera lens with household items is to ensure every dirt is totally wiped out by firmly rubbing the cloth against the lens. When the fabric is firmly held, there is a high possibility of taking all particles within reach. However, care must be taken that the grip on the camera is not too strong to prevent breakage. 

Follow these tips, and the camera lens will be spotless in no time.

Also read: What is a Camera Lens?

Different Types of Camera Lenses

Is there a need for a cleaning kit?

Various materials can properly clean camera lenses, and these materials are cheap to acquire and readily around. Not only that, materials such as microfiber cloth, cleaning wipes, and tissues have proven to be effective in removing dirt from camera lenses in no time.

However, this poses the question, do photographers need cleaning kits at all? The answer is yes, and here’s why;

Cleaning kits were produced for a reason, and that reason cannot be overemphasized. That said, actual cleaning kits like lens wipes and puffer do a much deeper cleaning of grime than improvised items. 

When in the mood for cleaning camera gear and lenses on a deeper level, a cleaning kit comes in handy and will do a thorough job. In the sense that the specific tools will reach every part of the lens and effectively take out specs and dirt that may want to tamper with the quality of the camera lens. (2)

F. A. Q

Camera lenses should be cleaned before every use. One should always wipe the surface of the camera lens because a dirty lens reduces the quality of the work done.

Yes, water can be used to clean camera lenses, but only a few drops of water is advisable. Too much water may cause damage to the camera lens.


With the simple tips discussed in this article, any camera owner can clean a camera lens without a cleaning kitWhenever in a tight corner, one can easily convert household items into cleaning tools without rushing to the nearest stall. 

These items are cheap to get and give effective results. Also, household cleaning items do not leave blotches and streaks on lenses because the latter reduces picture quality.  However, cleaning kits are still needed for an intensive cleaning of camera lenses.

Which of the household items would you use to clean your camera lens? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.


  1. Chris Woodford. (2020, August 21). Microfiber cleaning cloths. Retrieved from
  2. Harry Guinness. (2020, February 18). Stop dirty lenses from ruining your photos. Retrieved from