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Cleaning your filters: Warm Water with Amphoteric Surfactants

Optisoap by Sereine

Reader Jeff C wrote with this note, so I thought I would republish the post below.

I want to thank you for your recommendation from years ago. I have been using Optisoap for years now on my camera lenses and eye glasses, and I am very happy with the product.

This November, I called the Denver office using the Optikem International phone number on your website and ordered a quart bottle of Optisoap. What amazed me was this:

  • The price has not changed from years back --- It's still $18.50
  • They shipped it without me pre-paying for the product. I just gave them my name and address.
  • The USPS shipping price on the box was $13.75, but they don't charge for shipping!!
  • The $18.50 invoice in the box came with a self-addressed envelope.

I don't know how they can afford to do this in this world of scams where we always have to have our guard up. I find it refreshing to know there is a company out there that still believes in a handshake-type agreement and it is because of this, I am a one of their loyal customers. Thanks you for recommending them.

DIGLLOYD: indeed, it is refreshing to see that companies with policies like this still exist. See Dan M’s comment further below.

Cleaning filters — keep 'em spotless or gain flare and lose contrast

I use filters for protecting the lens so when I need them, they get dirty—situations involving sand/dust, salt spray, rain and or other hazards, like children with fingers. Or with my polarizers, I tend to fingerprint them eventually all on my own.

When I do use filters, I like them to be pristine, because they can affect image quality even when spotless; see Filters: Loss of Image Contrast With a Polarizer (Zeiss 35/1.4 Distagon) in Making Sharp Images.

When home, I use a special soap to clean filters under warm water: Optisoap from OptiKem. It’s designed for contact lens wearers and leaves zero residue. Using a tiny dab on a filter with warm water and gentle fingers removes all particulate matter as well as grease and oil, with zero risk of scratching. However, NOT recommended for polarizers, since they are not necessarily sealed (use only with regular glass filters).

You’ve got to love those amphoteric surfactants. Optisoap is hard to find online, but local optometrists often have it.

You can order Optisoap directly from Optikem International in Denver, CO at (800) 525-1752 / (303) 936-1137. It’s $18.50 for a 1 quart bottle, which lasts a long time and is vastly less expensive than the tiny bottles you might buy elsewhere. See also SereineSolutions.com.

Get filters at B&H Photo. At present my preferred filter brand is Zeiss, and I also like Heliopan. I’ve had terrible luck with B+W polarizers—very stiff rotation and binding.

Zeiss UV and polarizer filter lineup

Dan M writes:

My wife and I use it to clean our eyeglasses.

1. Wash hands thoroughly with non abrasive soap and rinse them well. Thoroughly flush glasses, both sides, with cool water. Finish by getting a good amount of water standing on the inside of the lenses.

2. Mix in Optisoap by putting a few drops on a fingertip, then putting in in the water resting on the inside of one lens. Just keep dipping your finger back into that water/Optisoap on that one lens surface to get what you need for the other three surfaces.

3. Wipe softly around all surfaces, both sides. And edges. 4. Rinse thoroughly with cool to slightly warm water.

5. Firmly grasping ear bars, shake off excess water

6. Blow off remaining drops with compressed air, being careful, of course, to clear the propellant first. Blow horizontally, not down, from 4-6 inches away.

End result is a much better cleaning job than you can ever get with any kind of spray, tissue or wipe combination. The key is that (1) all possible fine material is removed before you touch the glasses and (2) Optisoap introduces nothing that will scratch the glasses or effect their coatings. At least it never has harmed mine. Seems tedious, but the results are perfect and you can get to where it only takes a minute or two.

After 3-4 years we have used 2/3 of the bottle.

After cataract surgery my near vision only glasses are very delicate and ride close to my eyes. They get sweat, grit on them. And yes, fingerprints. This method guarantees you aren’t accidentally wiping fine particles into the lenses. I’ve been using Optisoap almost daily for eyeglasses for 3-4 years. My wife was very skeptical. Now she insists on finding the Optisoap when her glasses are dirty. Be careful not to tighten the cap of the bottle too tightly or it will break. (experience)

I’ve never found anything close to what the Optisoap method does. Thing is, even the best Zeiss wipe or spray and non abrasive cloth will catch grit and sweat grease, all that other crud, and spread it around the surface. The edge of the wipe catches something from the lens frame, spreads it into the area you’re trying to clean. Half the time I ended up causing a problem I didn’t have to start with.

DIGLLOYD: good tip and what I also do with my Revo sunglasses when I’m home and have running water. The lack of odor or smell is another huge plus.

Too bad I can’t clean the front of my lenses with it... well, wait a minute: Zeiss Milvus lenses are supposed to be weather sealed—I’ll ask Zeiss.

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