Keeping Your Eyeglasses Clean in the Spray Booth

Advice on protecting and cleaning your glasses in an overspray environment. April 24, 2014

Since I spray 5-20 gallons of conversion varnish a week, and I wear glasses, I get the overspray all over them sometimes. The only real solution I've found is to look for cheap eyeglasses that you can get the oleophobic coating on (anti-oil, anti-fingerprint). It's also an anti-glare coating.

At the end of the day, I wipe the glasses off with a clean rag and some mineral spirits (not lacquer thinner, although you can actually use lacquer thinner on polycarbonate with this coating, a few times, but not many).

Since I destroy my eyeglasses in any given year (usually I break them doing something stupid), I get cheapo glasses from somewhere online. I like Zenni optical, and typically I can get polycarbonate lens glasses with the oleophobic coating, in a flex-titanium frame for around $60-75 in my prescription, shipped to my door.

Unfortunately they come from China. I would much rather support my local eye places, but most of them around here are big chains anyhow, and the local eye doctors who sell glasses want $300-400 for a similar product.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
I use real tempered glass with metal frames. Clean them with whatever you want.

From contributor L:
You might want to get a product called Never Wet. I believe it is a Rustoleum product that is sold at Home Depot. It's just a guess, but I think it might work for this application. I would suggest you try it on your cheap glasses first.

From contributor X:
I spray all 2k poly, so I wear a fresh air mask. I use the clear film that goes over the shield. When it gets dirty, just peel it off and stick another one on. Off road riders use the same thing called tear offs, used for their goggles, so the lens never gets dirty. I would imagine someone out there makes them for glasses also. If so, you won't ever have to clean your glasses again.

From the original questioner:
I had thought of that, but glass is not a good choice in a shop with potential flying projectiles (I might be on a tablesaw or running the CNC at any given time of day). I prefer not to even have them in the shop lest I forget I'm wearing them and end up with glass nuggets in my eyes. That, and my prescription is so high that the lenses would be as thick as a 2X4. For what it's worth, the oleophobic coating only costs $15 if you order online.

From contributor R:
If you'll notice, I said tempered glass. I've used tempered glass spectacles for over 40 years and never broken one pair. Lost a fortune's worth, but never broken a lens. Oh, and my glasses have been hit or dropped many times without a casualty.

From the original questioner:
I'm sure that's the case, but I've spent enough time around tempered glass (which blows into nuggets when they fail). In my case, not worth the risk, nor the 5 pounds of glass that my prescription would require.

From contributor C:
I also wear glasses and I find that buffing on a really thin coat of paste wax allows the over spray to be wiped off with a clean micro fiber rag. I don't spray everyday nor all day, so I don't know if this is a good long term solution or not. I usually get a new pair of glasses every other year or so.

From contributor K:
Real glass. Chunks in eye? Really? Please show me one case on that in any trade accident. Don't take the advice of the people selling plastic lenses. They are cheap and easy to make. That is why glass has fallen out of favor.

From contributor O:
If you need a particular magnification, forget the over the counter specs. I worked side by side with a finisher who was damn near blind in one eye and could see rather normal in the other. The Union Health plan at the time covered his work glasses. Real nice pair with stainless steel frames and glass optics. At the end of the day he would clean them with lacquer thinner and finish up with an alcohol rub. Me, I just get Dr. Deans throwaway glasses and toss 'em if they get scratched enough or smeared enough that they become worthy of a landfill.

From contributor E:
The only practical advantage to plastic lenses over glass is the weight. Everything else sucks. The photo gray transitions work better and get darker with glass and you can clean them with anything without fear of hurting the lenses.

I find that even with plastic lenses, if I stay on top of cleaning them and don't wait too long, I can get just about anything off with denatured alcohol and a micro fiber cloth.

From contributor A:
Try cleaning them with acetone. That's what my optician used when I went in with finish on my glasses and he said it wouldn't damage plastic lenses.

From the original questioner:
Using acetone will not end well with most glasses. Even polycarbonate doesn't withstand acetone very well in terms of maintaining optical clarity. I do know from experience. I am still using these sorts of glasses (polycarbonate with the oleophobic coating) and it still works great. Just plain mineral spirits will clean dried conversion varnish off of them.