How to Clean a Projector Lens and Keep It in Tiptop Shape

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Last updatedLast updated: January 31, 2021
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Getting a projector for the cinematic experience or for giving presentations is relatively easy. You just pick one that you can afford while paying particular attention to the features. Notably, you can get a projector that fits your budget, whether it is $100 or $1000. However, after doing so, you’ll need to carry out regular maintenance of the machine. It doesn’t take much to keep your projector in tiptop shape. That said, you will need to clean the projector’s lens from time to time.

If you’d like to know how to clean projector lenses, we’ve outlined the right procedure below. Missing any of the steps included or making mistakes during said cleaning process could have disastrous results. As such, we advise that you exercise extreme caution. After all, you don’t want to lose your relatively new projector to a few careless mistakes.

How do you understand that your projector lens needs cleaning?

How to Clean a Projector Lens and Keep It in Tiptop ShapeYou should clean your projector’s lens as soon as it gets dirty. However, the time it takes for enough gunk and dirt to collect on the lens varies greatly and is affected by several factors.

One of these factors is where you install the projector. If the device is near a fan or a vent, you will need to clean your lens more often. This is because the mentioned installations will constantly blow dust into the projector.

Also, continually forgetting to replace the lens cap after use could be why you need to keep cleaning the lens.

A clear indication of when to clean your projector is when you start to notice degradation in the image quality. You may notice reduced brightness and sharpness as well as grainy images.

Another factor is the type of projector you have. Notably, the two most popular home options are the LCD and the DLP projectors. The DLP projectors are often more expensive, have higher quality images but are more sensitive to dust. As such, it doesn’t take as much dust to affect the images as it does in LCD projectors.

Of course, this will necessitate that you clean your DLP projector more often than you would if you owned an LCD option. Nonetheless, there is a danger of cleaning your projector lens too much. It can damage the coating on the lens as well as cause micro-abrasions.

Notably, you can extend the time between cleaning sessions by improving the way you store your projector. You might need a bag that keeps dirt away, or you can opt to use the product’s initial packaging if you still have it. Either of these ways keeps the projector and the lens protected from dust for longer.

Also, as you’re cleaning the lens, do not forget to clean the projector’s air filters after every three or four months. Failing to do so could lead to overheating whenever you use the projector.

What to do when cleaning a projector lens

Additionally, there are a few rules to adhere to when cleaning your projector lens. These could mean the difference between positive and tragic results from the cleaning process. Here are the dos:

Get the right cleaning supplies for the job

How to Clean a Projector Lens and Keep It in Tiptop ShapeMany projector owners who have grappled with the issue of cleaning the lens seem to be partial to pre-moisturized lens wipes or spraying cleaner from Zeiss. According to their reviews, these two projector lens cleaners are specially formulated to remove dirt and smudges from all types of optical lenses without damaging their surfaces.

If you’re using something like the spraying cleaner from Zeiss or some other similar product, it is also a good idea to invest in a microfiber cloth. The material will absorb liquids, trap dust and dirt, leave no lint and overall be effective in cleaning your projector lens. It also does this without leaving micro-abrasions on the surface of the lens.

Clean in circular motions

Start at the middle of the lens, then work your way outwards. By doing this, you’re trying to avoid wiping the same area more than once. After all, you don’t want to end up spreading the dirt onto other areas of the lens.

Inspect the labels of your cleaning supplies

You can go to your local photography store to buy the cleaning supplies since they regularly deal with optical equipment and lenses. However, that doesn’t mean that you can allow yourself to be careless.

Carefully inspect the labels to get a better idea of the chemicals used to make the product. Although unlikely, some of these chemicals may be detrimental to your projector lens. As such, always check to confirm it is safe before you use the cleaning product.

Keep a safe distance when using compressed air cans

How to Clean a Projector Lens and Keep It in Tiptop ShapeIt might be necessary to use compressed air to get rid of some of the dirt on the lens’s surface. However, these cans have been known to damage some lenses if not used with caution. Hold the can about seven inches away from the lens and only use short bursts of air.

Additionally, ensure you’re using the right compressed air can. Some of the options in the market contain aerosol residue, which may make your cleaning work even harder.

Store your cleaning kit in a clean container

Do all you can to keep dirt and debris away from your cleaning kit. This may involve storing it in an airtight container until the next time you need to use it. Of course, if you don’t, the cleaning kit will accumulate dust and dirt, just like the projector lens. This will, in turn, lower the kit’s effectiveness when you need to use it.

What not to do when cleaning a projector lens

There are also the don’ts of cleaning your projector lens that include the following;

Don’t use a T-shirt to clean the lens

You’ve probably come across someone who uses their T-shirts and other soft cotton garments to clean their eyeglasses. As such, it seems that it would be okay to use the same thing to wipe your projector lens. However, this is ill-advised even in the case of spectacles.

When it comes to a projector lens, the T-shirt may end up scratching the surface. You will also experience the same thing if you use tissues and paper towels.

Don’t use your breath

This is another common practice for glass-wearers. However, we strongly advise against this when it comes to cleaning your projector lens as well. The acidity in your breath could be detrimental to the coating on your lens.

Don’t touch the lens

This piece of advice applies even as you are cleaning. Notably, fingerprints on your lens can drastically reduce image quality. Also, they are harder to clean than other forms of dirt.

Avoid touching the bristles of your cleaning brush

Your fingers and hands tend to have oils that can be deposited on the brush bristles once they come into contact with them. After that, using the brush to clean will be a tall order as the bristles will keep leaving smudges of oil on the lens’ surface.

Don’t use other household cleaners for the job

It might be tempting to use that glass cleaner that you have in the kitchen. After all, it leaves your glasses looking spick and span every time you use it. However, the chemical composition may be detrimental to the coating in the lens, so it’s best to avoid them.

Don’t spray that new cleaning solution directly on the lens

Spraying the cleaning solution onto the lens may lead to the liquid seeping into the projector’s circuitry. Since you want to avoid this, you should instead spray the solution onto your microfiber cleaning cloth. Also, make sure you don’t use too much of the spray in a single cleaning session. The fabric should retain some of the moisture but not be wet.

Before cleaning the lens

How to Clean a Projector Lens and Keep It in Tiptop ShapeAlso, you have to take a few precautionary steps to make sure you don’t damage your projector while cleaning it.

The first step is, of course, to unplug the device. When your projector is on, the lens tends to heat up. Trying to clean it in that state may result in cracks in the glass. Nevertheless, if you unplug it and leave it to rest, the lens should cool down enough for the cleaning process to be safe.

In addition to unplugging the device, remember to disconnect it from your TV, laptop, or any other device you might have connected it to. Some of these projectors derive power from the other machines they are connected to.

Give the projector a resting period of between 30 to 60 minutes.

How to clean the lens itself

The exterior lens doesn’t take much work to clean. You’ll need cleaning supplies that should include a compressed air can, a cleaning solution, and something to wipe the lens. This may be a cleaning brush, pre-moisturized lens wipes, or a combination of microfiber cloth and spraying cleaner.

Start by blowing the debris and dirt away from the lens using the air can. As we mentioned before, keep a safe distance and only spray the air can in short bursts. The compressed air can should always be upright when you do this.

For the brush and the pre-moisturized wipes, use them to brush and wipe away debris from the lens. Start wiping in the middle and maintain a circular motion as you move towards the edge. You also use the same procedure with a microfiber cloth. However, you’ll need to spray some of the spraying cleaner on the fabric before you get to work.

How to clean a projector inside lens?

How to Clean a Projector Lens and Keep It in Tiptop ShapeIn some cases, you may need to clean the inside lens as well. It might be a little more complicated than cleaning the exterior, but it is doable. Of course, you start by unplugging the device from the power and video connections, then letting the device rest.

After the machine has cooled down, you then need to open it. How you open the machine will vary from model to model. Some models have latches that make them easier to open. However, for the specific way to open yours, you may need to refer to your manual.

Use your compressed air can to blow the dust inside the machine. You will still need to ensure your air can isn’t too close to the device. A distance of 3-4 inches should be enough.

Wipe away any dirt left inside the machine with a microfiber cloth. The fan vent and the area around it need special care as they will have the most dust and dirt.

Follow that up by cleaning the inside of the lens. Just like cleaning the outside of the lens, pre-moisturized wipes, or using both a microfiber cloth and spraying cleaner will get the job done. Remember to adhere to circular motions starting from the middle as you move to the edge. Finish up by closing the machine.

Final thoughts

The process of how to clean projector lenses should be the same as outlined above. As you can see, you can take care of your projector at home with limited supplies. However, a little carelessness on your part can have you looking at other projector options sooner rather than later. That said, if you clean the lens regularly, you won’t have to deal with grainy and blurry images.

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