Projector lenses can get dirty and dusty over time. It may get smudges from your fingerprints when you are adjusting it or just simply accumulate dust. Whatever the reason, dirty lenses can be a nuisance as it can create a murky cloud on the projected image and reduce both sharpness and brightness.
You need to clean the lens of your projector periodically to ensure that you are consistently getting the best visual output. To help you with that, in this article, I have included the methods of cleaning a projector lens and any other relevant additional information you should know.
So without further ado, let’s learn how to clean a projector lens.
How To Clean A Projector Lens: What You Will Need
Cleaning a projector lens is not as difficult as you may think. Yes, you do need to be careful and gentle as to not scratch or damage the lens; but the maintenance task is a relatively easy and quick job. The tools that you are going to need are –
- Microfiber lens cloth
- Compressed air
- Lens cleaning papers
- Lens cleaning solution
- Lens cleaning brush (optional)
- Tissue papers
Always make sure the cleanser you have is specifically made for the lens; cleaning chemicals that are harsh and abrasive (benzene, isopropyl alcohol, thinners) are not meant for lenses and can damage the lens coating greatly if used.
Remember, the kind of glass on a projector lens is very sensitive and prone to micro-abrasions; they are not the same as cheap sunglasses. This is why they require gentler care.
You also must ensure that the cloth you are going to be using is a lens cloth. Coarse cotton fibers of commonly used everyday clothes or harsh paper towels would perhaps do the job, but they will also leave your lens with thousands of tiny scratches. We do not want that, do we?
Step 1: Prep before Cleaning
If you have used the projector recently, turn it off, get the power cord and projector cable connections off, and allow it to completely cool down. The timing for cooling can range between 30 minutes – a few hours. When in use, the lens of a projector gets very warm and is more prone to breakage.
So, you must ensure it is totally cooled down before you start cleaning.
Step 2: Opening the Projector
Note that this step is optional and is meant for when you want a thorough cleaning of the inside lens. You may skip to step 4 instead if you want to.
In order to get the inside lens out for cleaning, you have to open your projector. How you can open the projector varies based on the brand and type you own. Have a look at the projector’s user manual or check out the manufacturer’s website to learn how to open it.
Generally, there is a button or latch on the housing of the projector that is meant for opening it, so try looking for one.
Step 3: Cleaning the Inside of the Projector
This step is optional, too, and applies only if you followed the previous steps. If you haven’t, skip this step and go to step 4.
Use compressed air in short bursts to clean the dust inside the projector. Make sure that you are holding the can about 3-4 inches from the projector. Use the nozzle for hard-to-reach spots. Continue cleaning until all the dust is removed from inside.
Then, you would want to ensure all the dust you have just carefully removed does not end back up inside the projector. Wipe away the dirt or dust accumulated with a microfiber cloth before introducing any moisture in your cleaning process. Remove the last traces of dirt & dust on the projector case after you have cleaned the inside.
Keep in mind that dust easily sticks to any kind of moisture and will likely stick when you use any cleaning solution, so be cautious. Handle the fan vent and surrounding area with extra care. You can use tissue papers on the projector itself and any surfaces, but make sure to not use them on the lens.
Step 4: Cleaning the Lens
Now that the case and interior are clean, we have come to the most important step. Start by removing the lens cap and cleaning the dust off with compressed air. Then, take a drop or two of lens cleansing solution on a lens cleaning cloth or a lens brush.
Remember, when it comes to a cleansing solution, less is always more. Your lens is small, and therefore, will need a very small amount for cleaning – anything more will make it harder for you to get the lens clean and streak-free.
Gently wipe the lens in a circular motion starting from the middle towards the outer edge with the cloth until it looks clean. Alternatively, if you are using a lens brush to clean, simply brush the lens with it following a circular motion. Unless you plan to use the projector for home theatre or other work, remember to put the lens cap back on.
Dirty vs. Dusty Lens
Different problems need different solutions, right? There is a difference between a dirty and a dusty lens. You really do not need to break out the cleansing solution and cloth if your lens looks more dusty than dirty. If your lens has visible dust on top, simply use compressed air to blow the dust off.
Then, if the lens still looks dirty clean it as stated in step 4; otherwise, you do not need to wipe it. Do not go straight to wiping if there is dust on top of the lens because that’s how you get micro-abrasions.
Cleaning Lens: The Dos
Follow the instructions mentioned below for a clean projector lens:
Clean the Lens in a Circular Motion
Whether you are using a brush or a microfiber cloth or a single-use lens wipe, always wipe the lens in a circular motion; avoid wiping in a straight line motion.
Inspect the Labels
Check the labels of all the products you are using and make sure they are all specifically made for lenses. Discard them otherwise.
Store Unnecessary Lens Cleaning Equipment
When the lens cleaning supplies are not being used, store them in clean places where they will remain clean. A dirty brush or cloth is useless and will do more harm than good.
Use Compressed Air the Right Way
If you are using compressed air, hold it at least 7 inches away from the lens and use short bursts to ensure the lens does not get damaged. Always keep the can upright.
Keep the lens cap on as much as possible. If you are not using it, it should have a cap on it.
Cleaning Lens: The Don’ts
Make sure you don’t end up doing any of the things mentioned below. This is for the well-being of your lens.
Do Not Spray or Pour the Solution Directly on Top of Your Lens
Always do it on the lens cloth or lens brush you are going to clean the lens with.
Never Use a T-Shirt to Clean the Lens
Using a t-shirt to wipe the lens is a big no-no, no matter how soft and gentle it feels; it will scratch the top of the lens. Paper towels and tissues are off-limits as well because they are made of hard fibers.
Do Not Use Your Breath to Clean
There can be acidity on your breath, which can damage the lens coating. Remember, lens wipes are cheaper than a new projector, so you must not be uncareful with the lens.
Do Not Touch the Lens Directly
Fingerprints are your lens’ worst enemy, so avoid touching it directly. They are by far the toughest to remove and the most damaging to the picture quality.
Do Not Use Any Household Cleaner
As already stated before, refrain from using any household cleaner, alcohol, or glass cleaner on your lens unless the product is specified by the manufacturer as safe for a lens. The wrong chemicals can do irrecoverable damage to the coating of the lens.
Do Not Touch the Bristles of the Cleaning Brush
That’s because it will get oils of your skin on it. Using a brush like that means you will be smudging oil all over the lens surface.
How Often Should I Clean My Projector Lens?
As I have stated in the introduction, you should clean your lens often. But the question is, how often? Well, the answer is quite simple – as often as it gets dirty. There are no hard and fast rules of cleaning, and you really should not be cleaning the lens if it looks clean or is not dusty enough to make a difference in the video.
If there is no noticeable drop in video quality, you do not need to clean the lens. A very little amount of dust will not keep you from clearly seeing every sharp detail. Think of it like this – the more frequently you clean the lens, the more chances of accidental damage your lens is exposed to.
So what you really should be doing is trying your best to not get the projector lens dirty very frequently. The next section contains a few tips on how to do that. Before we move on to that, note that it is recommended to clean out your projector’s dust air filters every 3-4 months to keep it from overheating, so do not skip that.
How to Prevent Your Projector Lens from Getting Dusty
The only surefire way you can prevent dust from gathering on your projector lens is having the lens cap on it when not in use. Say, you are on vacation and will not be home for a week. Notice just how much dust your electronics and furniture have collected after you come back.
Simply put, the longer the glass of your projector is exposed to air, the more debris and dust it will collect. So, always put the lens cap on when you do not need it.
Additionally, you should also consider where you are placing your projector. Try to place it away or facing against any fan or outgoing vents nearby because the more airflow the lens is exposed to, the more dust will be flown to it. Clean your fan and vents regularly too to prevent dust build-up.
If you have a habit of using the projector outdoors rather then at home, be careful with storing and transporting the projector. Do not leave it sitting around without any form of cover.
Finally, if you really are serious about this, you can try getting an air purifier and placing it near the projector. This will act as an extra line of defense and keep the air around your projector clean.
Keeping your projector lenses clean is absolutely crucial as a projectionist, especially if you plan on putting out outdoor cinema parties frequently.
Before intended use, always check whether the video looks clean and sharp with very good details. Otherwise, be very gentle and follow the directions of this article to clean the lens.
Remember, if you are careful, your projector will keep giving you the same performance as it did when it was fresh-out-of-box. And it will be a long while before you need to buy replacements for your lens. Thanks for reading!