The instructions for the Lenspen lens cleaning tool as well as those for similar knock-offs all say:

Wipe the lens surface with smooth circular motions.

"Circular" can be interpreted in several ways — it can mean the whole thing should be moved in wide circles but the orientation kept the same, or it could mean that the pen itself should be spun. Which is actually meant?

And, why is this important? What's wrong with a straight line (assuming I've carefully brushed all dust from the lens first, as per the first step of the instructions)?

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I recommend hooking it up to a random orbital sander. \$\endgroup\$
    – coneslayer
    Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 19:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Wax on ... wax off Daniel San. ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 1:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Leave the tool on the lens for a whole day. Meanwhile the earth will have made a smooth circular motion for you. You didn't even have to be there! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can see three possibles: 1) run the pen around the lens, like grooves on a record, keeping the pen at a single orientation. In this, the pen will effectively twist 360 degrees as you complete circle. 2) run the pen like a record, but twist the pen as you go, so that it stays in the same position relative to the groove. This is like the needle/cartridge in a record player. 2) as #2, but rotate the pen the opposite direction, so it does a 720 degree rotation as you go around the lens. The problem I see with #2 is that if you have grit on the pen, it will stay in the same place each lap. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


Well in that first link, the instruction PDF does state to "wipe the lens with smooth circular motions of the cleaning tip". From this I would say that the tip should be moving in a circular motion, the movement of the body is not important. Personally, I spin it the same as I would spin a coffee stir stick. Spinning the entire body on it's axis is quite difficult for my wrist, so this is the only logical way I've found to do it.

I think that a straight line would be just as effective, but since most lenses are convex, the circular motion just makes more sense.

I will point you to a thread about the application of car wax at Meguiars Online. In essence they point out that when applying wax:

If you’re applying non-abrasive products, i.e. products that do not scratch or scour the finish, and your applying them with a soft, clean applicator and using good technique, then you should not be instilling any scratches or swirls no matter what direction you’re moving your hand.

I believe that the same applies to the lens pen. You could try to use straight lines, but the circular motion is more natural for most people.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I just compared using a lens pen to waxing your car. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll say. That was random and abstract. \$\endgroup\$
    – J. Walker
    Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 0:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ "You should wash your lens like you are washing a dirty dinner plate" LOL \$\endgroup\$
    – J. Walker
    Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 0:54

i personally would not suggest the circular movement when cleaning my lens.

While cleaning in a circular movement, you may unintentionally keep any dust rubbing repeatedly on the optic while cleaning.

What I do instead is -

1) blow air on it using my blower pump to remove excess dust

2) brush off the heavy dust with a soft bristled brush

3) use a micro-fiber cloth (or cheaper leather cloth which I use is very effective)

4) use the cloth in a pattern cleaning gently from center of the optic to the sides covering the entire surface

5) use a lenspen if you have one - good product :)

I repeat this process after every outdoor shoot, or else it would be like a nightmare and won't let me sleep peacefully

  • \$\begingroup\$ I am using a lenspen. The instructions, after all of the above including the brush, say I use a circular motion. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 11:59

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