Our optics are built for a lifetime of performance, guaranteed. But with all this extended use in rugged conditions, we know they are bound to get dirty. Unlike your rifle, your optic doesn't need regular maintenance. In fact, your riflescope should be cleaned as little as possible, or only when you see a problem. In this article, we break down when and how to clean your riflescope properly to help make sure it performs at the highest level.

How Often Should I Clean My Riflescope?

If it’s not dirty, don’t clean it! You should clean your riflescope only when you see a problem or it affects your visibility. The body of your optic can be wiped down periodically, but the lenses require special handling.

Minor dust or debris on the exterior of the lenses is extremely unlikely to obstruct your view, so cleaning them should only be done when necessary. Dust on the eyepiece lens of your riflescope will be more noticeable than dust on the objective lens, therefore the eyepiece lens will likely require more frequent cleaning. But a few specs of dust on the objective lens will be harder to see and can usually be left alone. We recommend always using lens covers to help keep dust and other debris off the glass. 

What Cleaning Products Should I Use?

Compressed Air

Most dust and debris can be removed by blowing the optic with compressed dry air. A portable blower like the Giottos Rocket Air Blaster makes a great addition to your field kit.

Lens Brush

Use a soft lens brush like our Leupold Optics Lens Pen to gently sweep away any particles on your riflescope.

Cleaning Solutions

Water is the safest liquid to use (when needed) for both the body and the lenses. A generic eyeglass cleaner or 90+% isopropyl alcohol can also be used to clean the lenses, as they dry faster than water. If there are some hard-to-clean spots on the body of the scope, a simple degreaser like 409 works well (do not use that on the lenses).

Microfiber Lens Cloth or Cleanroom Swab

A lint-free microfiber lens cloth or cleanroom swab should be used sparingly. Even a soft cloth can scratch lenses if debris are not cleared away first. Always use one continuous motion when wiping with a cloth or swab.

Steps For Proper Cleaning

1. Clear Away Large Particles

Always start your cleaning by clearing away large particles of dust or debris from your optic using compressed air or a soft lens brush.

2. Wipe Down The Body

With a soft towel or cloth, use some water to wipe down the body of the scope. There may be times where dirt builds up on moving parts; especially if the scope features external dials. A soft-bristled toothbrush is a great tool to remove stubborn debris without damaging the finish of the scope.

More often than not, you should be good to go after the air blower and brush cleaning, especially in the field. Remember, you shouldn't clean more than you have to. But if there are still some trouble spots, here are some additional steps you can take.

3. Wet The Lenses

If needed, wet the lenses with a generic eyeglass cleaner or 90+% isopropyl alcohol. Water may also be used, but eyeglass cleaner and alcohol will evaporate more quickly, leaving fewer water spots.

4. Wipe The Lenses

Using a soft microfiber lens cloth or cleanroom swab, wipe the lenses in a spiral pattern from the center out to the edge.

5. Allow To Dry

Give your optic time to air dry before repeating any of the steps above.

What Not To Do

  • Never use any kind of lubricant
  • Never use abrasive cleaning materials
  • Never use coarse cloth or t-shirts to wipe your lenses
  • Never unscrew any part of the scope that isn’t intended to be removed by the end-user

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure your riflescope will always perform at the highest level. Every Leupold riflescope is backed by our Lifetime Guarantee, so if extra cleaning needs to be done or other issues arise, our Product Service Department is available to assist you.  Please visit our warranty page for more info on processing a warranty request.

Recommended For You

Every hunt is a challenge, so equipping yourself with the right tools for the job will boost your chances of tagging out and packing home some meat. Your riflescope definitely should not be overlooked when customizing your kit. But since Leupold offers so many premium hand-crafted riflescopes, how do you know which one is right for you?

Mounting a rifle scope properly is integral to getting and staying on target, shot after shot. Learn how to install the three most common mount styles for your rifle.