You finally made the leap from a wall-mounted television to a fancy new projector, but now dust particles are slowly gunking up your lens, and you can no longer see every pore on The Gladiator’s face quite like you once could. Well, you can’t use just any household cleaner to restore your projector lens to its glory days, so here’s a quick and simple guide to getting back every detail of Russel Crowe possible.
So how do you clean your projector lens?
Keeping your projector lens clean can greatly improve image quality, but you don’t want to use the wrong products and cleaning methods that can damage the glass or the electronics inside.
• Always wipe the lens in circular motions outward from the middle. If you wipe the same area more than once you are simply going to spread the debris around the glass.
• Always use products that are specifically labeled to clean lenses.
• Always keep your cleaning products like your microfiber wipes and lens brushes in safe places where they will remain clean. A dirty lens brush is basically useless.
• Always spray the air canister in short bursts to avoid damaging the glass.
• Never use a t-shirt to clean your lens, it WILL scratch the glass, no matter how soft it is.
• Never use your breath to wipe the lens, the acidity of your breath can damage the coating on the glass, you’re basically spitting all over it, and lens wipes are so much cheaper than new projectors.
• Never touch the glass with your fingers. Fingerprints are by far the hardest to remove and affect your picture quality the most.
• Never use glass cleaner or other household products not specifically labeled for cleaning your projector lens. The wrong wipes or chemicals could cause irreversible damage to the lens.
• Never touch the bristles of your lens brush as it will leave oils from your skin on the bristles, and then smudge that oil all over your lens the next time you clean it.
The tricky thing about cleaning your projector lens is: you can do it too much. For the most part, your projector should remain pretty clean unless you’re projecting screenings of Jaws at the beach, or Lawrence of Arabia in the desert. A slight amount of dust isn’t really going to impede you from seeing every detail.
Here's a great lens cleaning kit (on Amazon) that you can use to clean your projector's lens.
How often should you clean it then? It seems obvious, but the answer is: whenever it’s dirty. If you haven’t noticed a drop in video quality, then there’s no reason to clean the lens.
Think of it this way: every time you go to clean the glass, you’re risking damaging it. The more you’re cleaning that glass, the more opportunity you have to accidentally scuff it up. So the most important thing is to prevent it from getting dirty in the first place.
Note: It is, however, recommended to clean the projector’s air filters of dust every 3-4 months to prevent overheating.
There’s really only one surefire way of stopping dust from getting on your projector lens, and that’s using the lens cap every time you’re not using the projector.
Leave your house for a week-long vacation and look at how much dust your electronics have collected. The longer your projector glass is exposed, the more dust and debris it’s going to collect. It really is that simple.
You must also consider the placement of your projector in the room, ensuring it isn’t near an outgoing vent or fan that is blowing dust and debris onto the lens.
If you’re projecting things on-the-go rather than running your home theater, then you need to seriously consider how you are storing and transporting the projector. Using the original packaging is an option, but really you just don’t want it sitting out and literally collecting dust.
It actually depends on whether you have an LCD or DLP projector system. LCDs are the more common, cost-effective household projectors. LCDs are less affected by dust when it comes to image quality.
Dust simply collects on the lens and smudges the image. For LCDs, the greater danger is dust collecting in the vents and causing overheating damage to the bulb and electronics inside
DLP projectors are the more high-end and costly projectors. Most movie theaters operate off of DLP projectors but they are more susceptible to image problems caused by dust.
Dust can actually collect on the internal chips of a DLP projector and cause your image quality to become grainy, and cause specks of incorrect color on the image - especially in the blacks of your image. Fixing this problem requires actually opening up the projector, removing the chips, and cleaning them, but that’s a topic for another time.
Cleaning your projector lens is a simple and cost-effective procedure that - if done right - will have your projector back to that fresh-out-the-box picture quality. Remember the best thing you can do is prevent it from getting dirty in the first place, so slap that lens cap on whenever you’re not using it, and enjoy your screenings of Gladiator in full high-definition glory.