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How to Properly Clean CRT Projector Lenses


Back to Advanced Procedures Index



Do not use Windex and paper towels to clean CRT lenses! They will scratch and damage the glass and may even remove some of the anti-reflective coating on the outside of the lens.  Never spray any type of fluid directly on the lens surface!

The correct procedure below is provided by Guy Kuo of Ovation Multimedia Inc.

The best solution is to simply use dry air blown across the lens. Use a little bulb sold in camera stores to clean camera lenses and bodies.  Be weary of compressed cans of air (often sold in computer supply stores to clean keyboards/etc as they often spit out quite a bit of fluid and the compressed air is very cold).

If blowing dry air isn't enough, William Phelps (CRT installation guru) uses the the following cleaning solution:

1 drop dishwashing detergent (not soap!) (or Kodak Photoflo if you have it)
1/3 cup 99% Isopropyl alcohol
1 2/3 cup distilled water

It works very well indeed and does not harm the lens coatings. It's dirt cheap to make to boot. Cheap enough to use on your car windows. You won't believe what using an optical cleaner on a car window will achieve. Windex is residue city by comparison and should NOT be used on your projection lenses for fear of the ammonia dissolving the anti-reflection coating.

Don't get overzealous about cleaning. Every time you clean the lens, you will create some minor scratches. In other words, clean when cleaning does more good than harm.

The above solution can be misted on and wiped off with a soft lint-free cleaning cloth. Use each portion of the cloth only one pass. Start at the center and work outward. You will need to lightly buff until dry or else there will be visible residue.

Another cleaning product I very much like is Formula MC-1. I was turned onto this by Steve Smith. It leaves absolutely the cleanest lens surface I have ever seen. Use as a last step. Just a few drops do the job. The lens will appear to fog over as this dries. Buff the "fog" off and the lens will be cleaner than it ever has.

In either case, never never grind dirt back into the lens. Remove as much dust as possible with dry, compressed air. Very very lightly dust with a CLEAN soft brush. It is so easy to scratch the lens with a slightly soiled brush. Don't wipe a dirty lens while it is dry. Use a cleaning solution to loosen and lift the debris onto a clean soft lens cloth.

Be enthusiastic in throwing out multiple cleaning cloths. You're trying to preserve the lens, not the cloths!

Guy Kuo
Director - Imaging Science Foundation Research Lab
Video Test Design - Ovation Multimedia / Home of OpticONE Colorimeter, AVIA and Avia PRO

Below is another possible solution using commercially available cloths from Luminex®.

To minimize the possibility of damaging the coating or scratching exposed lens surfaces, we have developed this cleaning procedure. FIRST, we recommend you try to remove any material from the lens by blowing it off with clean, dry, de-ionized air. DO NOT spray any type of fluid directly on the lens surface.

Luminex® Cloth Procedure:

USPL (makers of CRT projector lenses) has found that lenses can be cleaned using a dry Luminex® cloth and the following procedure. This procedure does not contaminate the lenses with any aggressive chemicals.

  1. Always wipe lenses with a CLEAN Luminex®.
  2. Always wipe lenses in a single direction for best results. Do not wipe back and forth across the lens surface.
  3. Do no use liquid cleaners on the cloth as doing so may contaminate the cloth.
  4. If smears occur when cleaning lenses, wash the cloth. If the cloth is still dirty after washing or the fabric is damaged, replace the cloth. Do not use fabric softener when washing the cloth or softener sheets when drying the cloth.
  5. Keep the cloth in its case when not using it. Leaving the cloth in either an open air or lab coat pocket can contaminate the cloth. If the cloth is dirty, wash it before use.
  6. Do not store the cloth in contact with the lens for a long time as doing so may contaminate the lens with dye from the cloth.

Luminex® cloths may be acquired in North America from many major camera supply stores such as B&H Photo.

Luminex® cloths may be acquired in Japan here:

Toray Industries, Inc.
Toraysee Sales Department
2-2-1 Nihonbashi-Muromachi
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103, Japan
Tel: 81-3-3245-5890
Fax: 81-3-3245-5279

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