Smudged and Streaked Glasses - Fixed!!

Getting the best value for your money when it comes to eyeglasses, sunglasses, eye exams, and contact lenses.

Postby george » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:04 am

The topic of smudges, streaks, and a residue or film on eyeglasses has come up in a few different places on the forum and I had never had the problem until recently. You can see a lot of frustration in the Crizal thread around November 2014, reported with both Crizal and Costco eyeglasses there. It has come up several times in the thread on anti-reflective lenses too (see March 2012 and April 2013). Surprisingly, it doesn't seem to have come up in the thread on the best ways to clean your glasses.

Anyway, the bottom line is that many people have reported problems with their glasses not being able to get clean. I couldn't understand how so many people were getting streaks on their glasses. I figured they must have been touching the lenses with oily fingers or something. And then I got my new Costco progressive lenses which have a high quality anti-reflective coating. About a month after I got them, while at work I notice this horrible film on my glasses and I can't get rid of it. I do my usual routine of rinsing my glasses under cool water and then wiping them dry with the microfiber cloth. The film was still there so I resorted to my rare approach of using a very small amount of dish soap and rubbing it between my fingers and the lens. I figured there most be some residual oils on the lens and the soap should break that up. I rinse again and wipe it dry with my microfiber cloth and the film is still there!! I'm getting kind of pissed figuring that Costco has either cheapened their anti-reflective coating or I got a defective set of glasses. I'm puzzled and just for the heck of it, I wipe the glasses with a different microfiber cloth. I've attached a picture below of how they looked after wiping just the lens on the left side.




This first two pictures were taken without the flash and the last picture is with the flash. You can see in the picture with the flash that the lens on the left is almost invisible and the lens on the right has a ton of fine pieces of dust. So in my case, it turns out the microfiber cloth that came with my Costco lenses was actually causing a horrible film / smudge. I had never had this before. The new Costco microfiber clothes are these light bluish / grayish thicker cloth than what most other companies provide. When I went with another company's thin microfiber cloth, the lenses became spotless. I don't know if my Costco cloth just got dirty over time or what the deal is. I haven't tried washing the cloth yet, as I've just been using one of the others I have. I am shocked that the cloth made that much of a difference.

I hope the suggestion is helpful for others.
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Postby JLS1945 » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:51 pm

Interesting... I'm waiting on my first pair of Crizal lenses and stumbled across this site while looking for information. I've had my first pair of poly-carbonate lenses for about 6 months and share the smudging issues (love the photos for reference). I'm having reasonable success washing under the faucet with warn water & a bit of Dawn. I've been drying with a clean T shirt (without any fabric softener on it).

Postby Bill » Fri May 22, 2015 9:12 pm

I have Costco lens with anti-glare and they are totally smudged by midday. I clean them every morning first with a Kemwipe (used for fiberoptic connectors) and Costco cleaning solution then polish using the microfiber cloth. The kemwipe gets most of the oil and dirt off but leaves them streaked with a film. The microfiber cloth makes them clear. Washing the microfiber cloth in the laundry helped it to clean a lot better. Still not happy with my glasses which is why I came to your site to see if Crizal would be the hero but I see it isn't so.

I tried some Smitty's glass wax which seemed to make a noticeable difference in ease of cleaning but I never had this much problem with smugged glasses in the past.I am sure the smudging comes from my eyebrows. I made several trips to the Costco eyeglass counter for adjustments and they have them pushed almost against my face. I think they are just tired of seeing me show up. Kind of frustrated and have sort of given up on being able to see clearly.

Postby Eyedoc » Sat Jul 11, 2015 6:37 am

I am an optometrist and will tell you that smudges will appear more prominent on any lens with an AR coating. This is because AR coatings transmit much more light and make the lens look much more transparent, making any smudge more visible. The best AR coatings transmit virtually all light (not really as the coatings work by constructive and destructive interference, but functionally...). This makes oliophobic (coating that resists oil, present on most touchscreen devices) and anti-static coatings a good idea. ALL COATINGS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. It should also be noted that AR coatings will also perform differently on different lens materials. For instantance, the same coating on a high-index or polycarbonate lens will not perform as well as the exact coating on a CR-39 or Trivex lens do to differing Abbe values. Crizal products do have a hefty price tag and great marketing that most people don't fully understand, but I can tell you there are differences.

First, if you see a darker, more prominent reflection on the lens, this lens is transmitting less light and reflecting more light and looks less clear. In general lighting conditions there might not be a noticeable difference, but under special and low-light conditions there will be a marked difference. There are a number of reflections on lenses the reflection on the front surface is only the most prominent.

Second, many coatings will not last as long as name-brand products. Many of these coatings chip and scratch easily when compared to name brand products and other genrics through high quality labs (ie not the inferior coatings from online retailers, Costco and Walmart). Although there have been improvents in getting the coatings to adhere to the lens to prevent chipping, scratches are still a problem with lenses.

In summary, the best way to keep your glasses clean, and scratch free is to:

1)purchase name brand coatings or make sure they come from a high quality lab (much easier to just ask for Crizal)
2)keep your glasses oil free. When you go in to get your glasses adjusted they should put your glasses in a ultrasonic bath with a strong cleaning solution, but in between I recommend cleaning your glasses (frame and lenses, especially nose pads) with dish soap to remove all oils.
3)use a quality lens cloth. These should be provided with Crizal lenses, but I bought some large ones that work really well, which you can find online at retailers like Amazon.

Postby george » Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:03 pm


Thank you very much for posting here. I appreciate your comments. Crizal does make a great product and the COLTS testing verifies it is a great anti-reflective coating. My issue is that having gotten anti-reflective coatings that range from $5 on Zenni glasses to $140 for Crizal and overall, I'd be really hard pressed to notice the difference if someone asked me. If I have a hard time noticing the difference, I'm guessing most people can't tell. All of my lenses have lasted the year that I wear them without scratches, but I'm very careful with my glasses.

If I ever get the time, I'm going to put together a video testing all of the different lenses. I really don't think there will be much of a noticeable difference, but it still might be fun to do.
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Postby jeffn » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:25 pm

So EyeDoc answered the question by marketing product. The question was how to clean glasses that have a oily smudge - even after using dish soap.
So - does anyone know?

Postby malabar » Wed Apr 13, 2016 12:50 pm

I am so glad to finally find out after 2 years, that I am not going crazy. I have bought COSTCO glasses for years and have always been happy, but I was always able to choose the coatings that I wanted. About 2 years ago, I was told all the coatings are now in the lenses and you have no choice. Since then I have struggled with glasses that are always filmy and that I am always cleaning. I use the COSTCO cloths as they directed and washed them regularly. I make sure I never put my fingers on my lenses, and yet I always feel as though my vision is deteriorating because things are hazy. With the cloths failing, I have tried their lens cleaner and Dawn. Nothing helps. I am at the point where I am going to have to pay out of pocket for new glasses from somewhere else since I have already gotten glasses within the last 12 months. I have spoken to COSTCO about this and they tell me there is nothing wrong with my glasses, that they look just fine and there is nothing that can or should be done for me. I wear progressives, so I've been leery of online sources. Any suggestions for sources online or not?

Postby george » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:19 pm


Have you tried using a different microfiber cloth? I found that made all the difference. Are you asking where to buy good microfiber clothes online, or asking about where to buy cheap glasses online?
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Postby malabar » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:13 am

I guess both. I have a few different types of cloths, but if there is one that makes a big difference I'd love to know what it is and where to find it. I am also looking for a good source (online or store) for glasses that won't break the bank and do not have the same lens as COSTCO.

Postby george » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:19 pm

I find the ones that came with my Crizal lenses to be good and you can order extras online. It looks like they are currently $9.99 plus $3.95 handling for 3 clothes.

Looking on Amazon, there is a very highly rated cloth and the best seller called Magicfiber by Goja. I haven't used them, but based on the reviews, I would expect them to fix any smudging issues you have. They are currently selling for $6 for 2 or $9 for 6 clothes. If you don't have Amazon prime, you can select the "new" offers from $8.99 (for 6) and one of the options is to order it from Digital Goja with free shipping, no minimum.

If you happen to try them or find a brand that is particularly good, feel free to share the information here.
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Postby garbanzo99 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 4:31 am

I've been in the same boat with the other posters: Costco lenses, progressives, smudges. I've found the solution is to use any transparent soap; dishwasher, hand or shampoo. But it must be clear, not opaque. Wash off the lenses under running water. Then a little bit of the liquid soap on thumb and forefinger. Rub both sides of each lens and then rinse under running water using the same 2 fingers to make sure all the soap comes off. Now here's the secret, DON'T RUB THE LENSES WITH ANYTHING. Shake off the glasses to remove almost all the water then use a corner of a microfiber or pure cotton cloth to wash away any remaining water. If you rub the lens it will smudge. There's enough oil transferred to a cloth that's been used even a couple times to cause smudges. If you don't rub the lens you won't get any smudges. It works perfectly for me.

Postby Steph » Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:46 am

I am 46 and have been wearing glasses since grade 3 or 4. I have never had smudge issues with glasses all these years. My glasses are not from Costco but I do have the Crizol coating. I believe this must be the issue. For the past who knows how many years I have had coatings with transition lenses. Have never had a problem keeping glasses clean and scratch free. I have had these current glasses for less than a year and have never been able to keep them clean and somehow have a horizontal scratch across one of lenses. They have never been dropped, put down lens to counter etc. This is the first time I have had Crizol. My theory is that it is the coating. I have used their lint free cloths to no avail. I have used cloths already had and they seem to work a little better but still never get rid of the film. I had to quickly go to dish soap for some clarity since the purchase. I still continue to have problems and have probably never had one day of clear seeing except the day I walked out of the store with them.

Postby Steph » Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:07 pm

Think about it. Who googles "i can't keep my glasses clean?".
I have tri-focal, transition progressive lenses. Not from Costco as 99% of everyone here seems to have goten from.
The inability to keep these glasses clean just - to see is crazy. As all seem to talk about the Crizol... paints a pretty picture

Postby babyboomer » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:58 am

Interesting to read these responses. I've had a heck of a time keeping my Costco lenses clean as well; I kept thinking surely I am doing something wrong. I've noticed over the past several years in purchasing RX glasses from various retailers, including Costco, that the lenses get dirty and scratched quite easily. I am admittedly not the best caretaker of glasses, so blamed myself. I've also noticed the hard sell to buy lenses with the anti-glare coating. I'm beginning to suspect this hard sell is intentional and that these "coatings" get you back in to the optical shop to replace lenses more frequently. Do I sound like a paranoid loon or are is the public being sold a bill of goods?

Postby Karen » Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:06 am

I wore Crizal lenses for about ten years and last month I switched to a 'generic' brand and I'll never do that again. I wear my glasses all the time and have been wearing for 40+ years. With the Crizal lenses I cleaned my glasses about 3 times per week, with this pair every day sometimes 3 times per day I'm cleaning them. They are too labor intensive, too much of my time is being invested in trying to keep them clean in order to have clear vision. If I wash them in the morning by noon they have dust and particles all over them. If I use a cloth there seems to be somewhat of a film. I'm disgusted with them already. I'm already saving for my next pair of Crizal.

Postby [email protected] » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:26 pm

It's not just Costco glasses that has the problem. I purchased my glasses from a Optometrist office and got the top of the line lenses and coatings. Can't see a THING. Smudges everywhere, i actually had to take my glasses OFF to pass the eye exam at the Motor Vehicle Licensing. AND I passed! Initially i thought it was heat related...we live in Arizona..and i really saw the problem develop after a very hot summer. Seemed to get worse. My sister has the exact same pair of glasses from the same optometrist-- and she is having the same problem. She has worn glasses since she was 8 years old and i have for the past 30 years. Never had this problem before. I'm going back to glass lenses. My sister has a pair of glass lenses in her sunglasses and can see perfectly with them. No Smudges.. What upsets me is the PRICE we pay for the low quality!!
[email protected]

Postby jaculin412 » Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:26 am

I have just purchased my first paid of glasses from Costco. I love the frames but the lenses are horrible, I feel like I am constantly cleaning them. I've worn glasses forever and have never had this problem. Glasses get dirty, I get it, but I shouldn't have to be cleaning them over and over and over throughout my day

Postby george » Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:50 pm

I found the Costco cleaning cloth terrible, leaving a film when I used it. With a good cleaning cloth, the lenses get very clean. Dust shows very clearly on antireflective lenses, but I found that after a week or two, the dust either wasn't as bad or wasn't as noticeable. I'm not sure why that happens unless I just got used to it. This isn't unique to the Costco lenses, as I had the same issue with my Crizal lenses when I first got them. When the lens is so clean and clear, little bits of dust are just way more noticeable.
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Postby Barry22 » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:02 am

I definitely think it's the crizol and I'm glad I found the site because I thought I was going crazy just trying to get the damn things clean. The truth of the matter is I think most of us will pay high dollar for the right pair of glasses that are maintenance free which is what they claim crizol is. If they would just get it right we would pay the money to avoid this frustration!!

Postby Amie Friend » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:56 pm

I've been wearing glasses since I was 5. I purchased my last 2 pairs of glasses from Lenscrafters. I paid extra for the anti- glare coating the first time and were constantly dirty. When I got my new glasses, in order to have the lightest progressive lenses available I was told that I had to get the anti-glare coating - it was the only way they're made. I asked them if the coating made the glasses prone to smudges and they told me it was one of the problems that came with that kind of lens. I could get a different product that was uncoated, but they'd be thicker and I couldn't get some of the frames I chose if I didn't want the included anti-glare lens. I bought their cleaner and cleaning cloths which work fine, but carrying a spray bottle around wasn't exactly ideal, and those little individual wet cloths often dry out. My sister gave me a carbon-based eyeglass cleaner called Peeps for Christmas. It works wonders. I still prefer the spray cleaner or soap and water when I'm working at home, but this also works well for me. I can carry it in my purse or take it with me when I travel. I was concerned it might damage the coating, but it hasn't so far. It still doesn't solve the problem of the constant cleaning.
Amie Friend

Postby george » Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:50 pm

The Peeps eyeglass cleaner looks interesting. I hadn't heard of it before you mentioned it. Here's a link to the Peeps product on Amazon. It is around $15-17. It has a brush that you use first to remove any dust or participles on the lenses. You then use the little pads to wipe the lenses. The company claims that there is a carbon cleaning compound on the pads that you use to wipe the lenses. It is supposed to clean the lens and also it has an anti-static property that helps keep the lenses clean. If this worked, it would be a nice addition to other cleaning methods, as I haven't really found a good anti-static cleaner. The reviews are mixed, around 3.5 to 4 stars out of 5. Many say it works very well, some say it doesn't really help with oil and smudges, requiring you to clean the lenses the traditional way first, and there were a few rare comments saying they scratched the lenses.

My guess is that if they did scratch the lenses, it is because there was dirt or other particles on the lenses that weren't properly cleaned off. If the anti-static feature really works, I'd consider it. It is pricey at $15, as it does have a limited lifetime of about 500 cleanings. If you use it once a day, that isn't too bad I guess, but I find my cleaning clothes easily last a year for far less money.

In general, I'm able to get through a whole day without having to clean my glasses. Every morning, I rinse them in cool water and then wipe them dry with a good cleaning cloth. As I said earlier in this thread, the Costco cleaning cloth did not work well, but pretty much all of the others have worked fine. I'm currently using the Magicfiber cleaning clothes I got from Amazon as they were highly rated and reasonably priced (around $8 for 6 cleaning clothes). They work very well and I've had no issues with them. My glasses may get a little dirty during the day, but I rarely have to clean them a second time during the day. When I do, I have another microfiber cloth at my office. I rinse the glasses with cool water again, and wipe them dry. I haven't had any need to use soap, but if my lenses were particularly oily I would do that - just using a small amount of dish soap, rinse it off, then dry with the cloth. It has worked for me and I haven't gotten any scratches on my glasses doing this.
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Postby nanH » Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:46 am

I have three pairs to glasses, purchased within a year or so. The first pair I had to return because they kept getting smudged. I took them to a respected optician in the area (the first optician was no longer in my immediate area) who told me the lenses were "crazing". I sent them back and he replaced the lenses because I was still under warranty. They are doing the same thing as are the other two pair I have. If it were not for messages I have gotten from this site, I would wonder what I was doing wrong. I have three pairs of glasses now and have trouble with all three. Am going to start making the rounds and get some answers from the opticians. It must have something to do with the coatings, as I have worn glasses most of my life and have never had this trouble.

Postby george » Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:40 pm

I've heard hot water can lead to crazing with some coatings. I assume you don't use hot water when washing your glasses? Please update us with what you find out from optometrists.
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Postby Susan » Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:46 am

Wow! I googled "how to clean eyewear" and this thread came up. OMG, my glasses are from COSTCO. Got these 6 months ago and for the life of me can't get them clean. No matter what I try there's smears, smudges, and a film that never seems to go away. I've never had this happen with any of my eyewear, even those ordered online. I love my frames, but am going to get the lenses replaced somewhere else. I'll be paying out of pocket, as I already used my benefits. Guess the good price I thought I was getting from Costco isn't so good now after all.

Postby george » Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:16 pm

For me the issue is not the Costco lenses, but the cleaning cloth they gave. Once I used another cleaning cloth, the smudges went away. I was shocked that the cleaning cloth would make that much difference.
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Postby IndyNanny » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:25 am

I have been wearing glasses 66 years and am ready to quit if the Drs can correct my vision. I have Crizal non-smudge lenses and they are always smudged no matter how often I clean them. Did not purchase from Costco but from an opthamologist. I truly believe the lighter weight plastic lenses are the problem. Never had problems with the real glass lenses years ago.

Postby Queenie » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:04 am

Glad I found this page. Both my husband and I have daily smudge problems with our Costco glasses. Will not buy them anymore. Brought them for over 25yrs. We are currently looking for new glasses. Costco sure has changed. They just ignore EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE I KNOW with Costco glasses since about 2016 complain about the film and smudges. They refuse to improve or change. So I will go elsewhere to purchase.

Postby george » Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:59 am

If you are having problems with Costco lenses smudging and having a film, have you tried a different cleaning cloth? As I explained above, the problem for me was the cloth provided with the Costco glasses, not the glasses themselves. Once I tried a different cleaning cloth, the film and smudges vanished.
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Postby Bob in Foster City » Mon Jul 29, 2019 7:08 pm

The filmy smudges are most annoying to the point where I am searching for glass glasses again. If the problem is so widespread, which manufacturer has solved it? Any ideas. Don't want to have a better cleaning method, want film-free.
Bob in Foster City

Postby Annie » Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:31 am

I too had a problem with my new eyeglasses from Costco. Whenever I cleaned them they would have smudges. I switched from the Costco microfiber cloth to the Kirkland kit cloth that they sell separately and voila my glasses are super clean with absolutely no smudges. For me, it was definitely the cloth. The blue one that Costco provides with their logo on it is thicker, rougher, and lower quality. It honestly is more like a small rag than a microfiber cloth if you ask me. The one that was sold in the Kirkland kit however is thinner and silky smooth. It cleans my lens perfectly leaving behind no smudges. So I just use the costco cloth to clean the frame of my eyeglasses and the Kirkland cloth for my lenses.

Postby rick mckinney » Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:48 am

does anyone make no smear lens eye glasses
rick mckinney

Postby Brenda » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:20 pm

I too have lenses that have a film on them shortly after cleaning with dish detergent and drying with a clean coffee filter. They are spotless, for less than an hour. I have used COSTCO lenses all the way to expensive lenses and it still happens. I was told at my Dr. office that they just don't know how to make a len yet that doesn't look cloudy after wearing. That's crazy. We can put a man on the moon but we can't make a lense that stays clear. My eyes get exhausted. Has anyone ever tried cleaning them with Finish dishwasher cleaner? I'm desperate to see clearly.

Postby Alan Gray » Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:39 pm

Kimberly Clark Safety 34743 White Kimwipes Delicate Task Wipers, 3-ply

I got them on Amazon. Totally fixed the problem. Wash with warm water and a little dish soap or just wipe lenses with these. They use them at Costco when their microfiber cloths don’t work. And they don’t scratch the coating off.
Alan Gray

Postby george » Wed Oct 23, 2019 10:37 pm


Thank you for posting about the Kimberly Clark Kimwipes. I had never seen those before but the reviews are awesome, with multiple people mentioning initially seeing them at the Costco optical section.

I still generally just rinse my glasses in cool water each morning and then wipe/dry them with a good quality microfiber cloth. I may get a box of the wipes. They are currently $18 from Amazon and someone mentioned cutting them into strips and having that work well.
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Postby george » Thu Sep 29, 2022 9:17 pm

I just picked up new eyeglasses at Costco and noticed they are now using a different microfiber cloth. The cloth is now white and seems a little thinner than the bluish gray ones that left all the smudges. I'll have to see if these new clothes work better than the old ones. Having a good microfiber cloth has been the most important item for me to keep my eyeglasses smudge free.

I still use the same routine I've used for years. Every morning I run my glasses under cold water. I gently shake them dry. I then wipe them fully dry with a microfiber cloth. I keep one microfiber cloth in my car in case they get smudged while driving. Another microfiber cloth is in my desk at work. Usually I can just gently wipe it with the cloth when I'm not near a sink and I haven't scratched my lenses yet.
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