Keeping your scope lens clean is an essential part of accurate shooting, but sometimes, we’re all guilty of overlooking our regular scope maintenance. Which is worse though, spending a few extra minutes cleaning your lens, or missing a shot because you slacked and let your lens get grimy? In this article, we’ll share 10 rifle scope cleaning tips that everyone should master so you’ll have no more excuses for your dirty lens.

The tips are quick and easy and will go a long way toward helping you hit your target, which is the whole reason you bought your scope in the first place, right?

Simple Scope Cleaning Tips

#1: Dust Off Your Lens

If you’ve invested your money in a great rifle scope, the last thing you want to do is scratch up the lens. It’s essential that you dust off your lens before you even think about using a cloth to rub the glass. Every tiny speck of dust and dirt will create little scratches in your lens and degrade the clarity over time.

If you skip this step often enough, you’ll quickly find yourself in the market for a new 1-8x scope.

#2: Use a Microfiber Cloth

It’s tempting to use your shirt when you’re in a rush, but don’t do it. Kleenex, paper towels, and toilet tissue aren’t suitable for wiping your lens either because they’re a bit too rough and could scratch the coating on your lens. Specially designed microfiber cloths clean smudges and oils off of lenses without leaving behind scratches or cotton fibers.

#3: Don’t Spray Cleaner Directly On Your Lens

Water and a microfiber cloth will go a long way toward cleaning your lens, but sometimes you need a little more power. Windex is too strong and could harm the coating on your lens, so opt for eyeglasses or lens cleaner.

Make sure you spray the lens cleaner onto the microfiber cloth, not directly on the lens. Too much moisture can damage your scope’s seals, so use it sparingly.

#4: Keep The Cap On

When you clean your rifle, keep the cap on your scope. The solvents and powders you use to clean your gun can damage the lens coating and waterproof seals on the scope.

Bonus tip: Keep your cap on when you’re trekking in and out of your hunting spot. You kick up a lot of dust along the way, plus you could encounter rain or even pollen that will dirty your lens.

#5: Use a Q-Tip

Your scope has a lot of small nooks and crannies that are tough to clean. Use a Q-tip to clean ridges and tight spots. If you really want to protect your lens, you could wrap your microfiber cloth around the Q-tip to help you get your lens clean without leaving wisps of cotton behind.

#6: Use a Lenspen

A LensPen is a dual-ended tool specifically designed for cleaning lenses. It’s popular among photographers and hunters because it cleans thoroughly without using any liquids. One end has bristles for dusting off the lens, and the other has a pad with a carbon cleaning compound that you can use to rub out smudges.

Bonus tip: Make sure the dusting bristles are free of oil and dust before using them on your lens or you’ll scratch it. LensPens are very affordable, so replace yours as necessary.

#7: Unscrew Your Turrets

The lens isn’t the only part of your scope that needs attention. If you were hunting in especially windy or wet conditions, you should remove your turrets and thoroughly clean them so that they don’t rust. A Q-tip works well, and so does a microfiber cloth. If you decide to use the cloth, be sure to clean your turrets AFTER you clean your lens. You don’t want to risk scratching your lens with dust from the turrets!

If you like the LensPen, you can use one on the turrets as well. Your safest bet would be to have a separate one for your turrets, so you don’t spread any moisture or oils to the lens.

#8: Bring a Cleaning Kit When You Hunt

Mother Nature is unpredictable, and since you never know what conditions you’ll encounter, you should prepare for anything. If you keep a LensPen or microfiber cloth in your hunting pack, you can clean off your scope throughout your day. It would be a real shame to miss your shot because you didn’t have a kit to clean off rain droplets or mud splatter.

#9: Clean Your Battery Compartment

If your scope is battery-powered, you should take out the batteries periodically to clean the compartment. When you expose your scope to environmental conditions, moisture can get inside any nook or cranny. If your batteries get old or wet, they can begin corroding inside the compartment. You can sometimes clean the battery acid out if you catch it soon enough, but if you wait too long, you might have to kiss your scope goodbye.

Bonus tip: Keep spare batteries in your hunting pack so that you never run out of power.

#10: Don't Over Do It

You definitely want to clean your lens thoroughly when it’s dirty but be gentle and only wipe the lens as much as you absolutely have to. Even if you try to be thorough when you dust the glass, the world is full of tiny dust particles so no matter how careful you are, you’ll still get itty bitty scratches on it each time you clean it.

You may not actually need to clean your lens each time you hunt. If you can still see through it clearly, leave it be.


Maintenance for your rifle scope is pretty simple, so don’t skip it. With a few tools and some smart strategies (always start with dusting!), you can keep your scope clean and clear and functioning correctly for years. Just remember to take it easy and be gentle, it’s a glass lens, not a steel barrel.
Do you have any favorite tips for keeping your scope clean that we missed?