Nikon support: do not breathe on your lens to clean it, your breath contains harmful acids that could damage the lens coating

An interesting advice from Nikon support - do not breathe on your lens to clean it because you could damage the lens coating:

How do I clean the camera lens?

The best way to clean a lens is to use a piece of lint free lens cleaning tissue and a small amount of Lens Cleaning solution. Do not use anything containing abrasives or  solvents, only use Lens Cleaning Solution.

First we recommend taking a small blower brush to blow off or brush away loose dust or debris.

Next, place a drop or two of cleaner on the tissue (never directly onto the lens) and then wipe the lens in a circular motion, beginning in the center and working your way outward, removing any marks or smear.

If the above supplies are not available a clean, dry, soft, lint free cloth can be used to clean the lens. Do not breathe on the lens to fog it for cleaning. There are harmful acids in breath that can damage lens coatings. Just use the blower bulb, then brush, and wipe the lens in a circular spiral from the center outward.

The same method can be used to clean the viewfinder eyepiece of Nikon cameras.

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  • Gary Irwin

    Sorry Nikon, not breathing on a lens to clean it isn’t going to make my life list of “don’t do’s”.

  • Pat Mann

    So who at Nikon started this urban legend?

    I’m going to continue to assume that what condenses on my lens when I breathe on it is pretty pure distilled water. I’m not spitting on it, so what’s dissolved in my saliva is not the same as what condenses on the lens. Pretty much the same process as used in making distilled water. If I see a credible scientific study indicating that something corrosive or harmful to a lens coating condenses out of my breath at the same time the water does, I’ll change my process.

    I first use a microfiber cloth, so anything that was already on my lens is mostly gone when I breathe on it. If something persistent stays on the lens after the microfiber cloth treatment, I breathe on it, since most of what remains probably was left behind from when water evaporated leaving something dissolved or suspended in it behind. I’d rather get it off by dissolving it again than leave it there.

  • ScienceTheBear

    “do not use your lens, for using it may cause photos to be taken.”

  • robert

    After my latest dealings with Nikon service and two failed warranty repairs, I’m selling the lot and moving to another brand. The best products are useless when they are supported by incompetent service departments.

  • Old news, Figured this out a decades ago after doing it for years prior and finding my front element going to carp and back.

  • Camaman


    No please this special Nikon branded fluid for our delicate glass…

  • anonymouse

    I can just hear the response form Nikon USA service center people now… “Sorry sir, your lens is almost new and still in the warranty period, but we can’t repair it as you are still breathing.”

  • RAM

    I would like to know which acids the breath contains and what is its effect on glass!! Will the NPS clarify on this.

  • Aldo

    Thank God they didn’t say anything about spit… I’m good then.

  • RoyL

    I think I will take this as I believe it was intended. INFORMATION. I don’t believe breath fog will cause instantaneous melt down of coatings. But this announcement is probably true. I have used both breath and lens cleaning solution over the years, but very little of either. Most often a rocket blower and a lens cloth does the job, and I spare the lens cloth as well. I don’t believe rubbing the front element can ever be a good thing, no matter the solution used. I think from here forward I will stick with the cleaning solution.

  • Sahaja

    Breath? What about the chemicals in smog and acid rain? Is Nikon’s “nano coating” that fragile?

  • Wow, the commenting on here is getting worse than youtube…

  • gearbox

    Hmmm. My “official” Nikon LensPen instructions state: “if some smudges presist, breathe gently on the surface and repeat the process”. Should i ignore that instruction?

  • aciddragonbreath

    they were probably thinking about the japanese chronic bad breath from eating too much raw fish… anyone who met a few japanese would probably agree with this advice.

  • GianniBarberi

    Good advice, I happened to blow on a sensor and throw a tiny piece of food which was indeed acid and damaged it.

  • Sahaja

    If breathing on a lens can harm the coating on Nikon lenses, what does the air pollution in many cities do to to them?

  • jkk

    HELP, so it is safe to shoot portraits beyond the minimum focus distance or with a macro then? I don’t want to ruin my lens by someone breathing on it.

  • Miko

    i like to breathe on the lens then take a picture so i can get a fog effect

  • Damaged lens coating? How weird is that?

  • BigEater

    It always blows my kind that people are willing to spend $1,000, $2,000 (or $9,799 in the case of the 600mm f/4G ED VR AF) on a lens and then get all thrifty and penny pinching when it comes to taking care of it.
    Some poor Nikon employee probably got fired for admitting that Nikkor coatings were less than perfect. Sure, keep cleaning your lens with the tail of your shirt, but spend the $4 for a bottle of lens cleaner. What is the worst that could happen?

  • BT

    I decided to wait before I post my comment and have given it a lot of thought. Nikon does have a very valid and legitimate point. Consider this: Some people do have Baaad breaths that should be classified as hazardous material which can make Superman wilt!

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