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6 Ways to Remove Scratches from Sunglasses & Why They're All Bad Ideas

By Kirsti Smouse

May 19, 2015

6 Ways to Remove Scratches from Sunglasses & Why They're All Bad Ideas

By Kirsti Smouse

May 19, 2015

Except For One

Unless you live in a world made strictly of marshmallows, pillows, and eiderdown, you’ve probably encountered a scratched lens or two in your lifetime. Going out on a limb here, but it’s probably why you’re reading this article.

You’ve got scratches, and you don’t want them. We don’t blame you.

So, you’ve hit the internet in search of a fool-proof tutorial on how to remove scratches from sunglasses, and you’ve come across all manners of cure-alls in the form of ordinary household items.

You know that adage, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is?”

This is pretty much always true — and it’s definitely true about scratch removal.

What all those tutorials fail to mention is that you’re essentially ruining your lenses in the process of removing those scratches, if you can even get the scratch out at all.

Instead of a list on how to remove scratches, we’re going to tell you why you shouldn’t waste your time, energy, and money on a fool’s errand. But it’s not all bad news — we don’t think you should live in a world with marred vision either.

Which is why we’re going to tell you how to get rid of those scratches and still keep your favorite pair of sunglasses.

But first, all the things you shouldn’t do:

1. Toothpaste & Baking Powder

These methods take a long, long time, and they still might not prove effective. In theory, the micro-abrasives within the substances, when combined with force, can gently buff out the scratch. This theory isn’t wrong — eventually, the constant pressure and grit could wear the lens down to the point where the surface is even with the scratch’s depth.

But it’s not going to happen in one application, or two, or probably even 25. You’re dealing with micro-abrasives that are safe and gentle enough to put in your mouth. If you think they’ll wear down that scratch in one go, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Unless you’re a fan of pruney fingers, have hours upon hours to devote to the task, and aren’t the type to be disappointed by lackluster results, you may just want to leave the toothpaste for your teeth and the baking soda for your kitchen cabinet.

Baking soda in a bowl, spoon, and cup of water

2. Sunscreen

This method is applicable for lenses with mirror coating, and it does work. At least, it works if the scratch only affects the mirrored layer of the lens. If it cuts into the plastic or glass, you’ve still got problems.

You can’t use a spot treatment with this method. If you’re going to use sunscreen to remove a scratch, you’ve got to remove the entire layer of mirror coating — dramatically altering the appearance of your lenses, the view tint, and the light transmission of the lens.

If you have lenses that are not inherently UV protective (such as glass), then you’re also potentially stripping the UV coating from your lens, and subjecting your eyes to greater risk than if you were to simply go without sunglasses.

Here's the science behind that: If you’re out in bright sunlight without anything shielding your eyes, your pupils shrink to limit the amount of light getting in. But if you stick a dark lens over your eye, the pupils dilate to capture as much light as possible. The problem is, if your lenses don’t have a UV filter, your expanded pupils are now taking in more dangerous UV rays, increasing the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Nothing about that situation sounds fun.

3. Glass Etching

Ironically, this shouldn’t actually be used on your glass lenses. You’d think from the name, but no.

This method is only recommended for plastic lenses with a coating, because that’s what you’ll be stripping off to remove the scratch. The active ingredient in glass etching products is hydrofluoric acid, which is highly corrosive. It eats the top coating off of the plastic lens. This brings us back to the same quandary as the sunscreen. You can’t selectively decide which coatings will stay and which will go. If you strip one, you strip them all.

Person wearing green gloves applying furniture wax

4. Furniture & Car Wax

Despite its place on nearly every list regarding scratch removal, wax, of any kind, should not be used on lenses. Cars or furniture, sure. The use of wax to hide a scratch in the leg of your armchair doesn’t hinder or mar the effectiveness of the chair. But one of the inherent properties of an effective lens is the ability to look through it.

If you stick wax in your view, you’re simply exacerbating the problem.

5. Sandpaper

Yes, you read that correctly. One of the less-often touted methods is to use sandpaper to grind the lens down to the depth of the scratch, and then use a buffing wheel and wax to polish the lens back to a shine. It looks really good. Emphasis on the word look. It may also take up a substantial chunk of your evening.

If the only thing you care about is getting rid of the scratch, and you don't particularly care about the effectiveness of your lens, then you’re good to go with this method.

But if you think that altering the clarity, refraction, and possibly the prescription of your lens, while also stripping all those beneficial coatings such as hydrophobic, anti-glare, and UV protection is not the best plan, then it may be best to steer clear of this one. If you really need an excuse to use a power tool, go hang some shelves in your garage. The world could always use more shelves.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for — the best solution to getting rid of scratches and back to using your sunglasses . . .

Sunglasses and replacement lenses on a rock

6. New Replacement Lenses

Did you even know this was an option?

Most people don't. They assume a scratched lens means the end to their entire pair of sunglasses.

$100+ down the drain.

Another pair of sunglasses thrown into the junk drawer.

Not any more.

Enter replacement lenses.

This option is typically far less expensive than purchasing brand new sunglasses. You can keep using the sunglasses you already own and you won't need to mess around with DIY methods that probably won't end up working anyway.

Replacement lenses are a guaranteed fix for getting rid of scratches.

Here's why you should check them out:

  • Revant replacement lenses start at $24
  • The installation process is quick and easy — there are videos for how to remove and install lenses for every frame
  • There are SO many ways you can customize your look — including polarized, mirrored, photochromic, and clear lenses
  • FREE shipping (both ways) in the US
  • No-hassle 60-day satisfaction guarantee and a 1-year warranty

Shop Revant replacement lenses here. If you order before noon on a weekday, they'll ship the same day.

If you don't see your sunglasses on the list, we can cut lenses specifically for your frames right here in the US. Learn more about custom cut lenses.

Save yourself the time, money, and disappointment of "how to remove scratches from sunglasses" tutorials. You’ll be better off for it.

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  • TRILLE$$$T EVER

    This is basically ad ad for.oakley

  • tacticomp

    Great humorous approach to a problem that will eventually steer you to the most effective solution:
    "buy a new one you cheapskate"! LOL!

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