How To Clean Ski Goggles?

by Simon Knott | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

In the world of ski kits, ski goggles often don’t rate that highly. However, they provide important protection and can make skiing a lot easier when the weather closes in. But what’s the best way to clean ski goggles? Not with the sleeve of your ski jacket, I guess?

The lens coatings used in the manufacture of ski goggles use complicated technology. These coatings are very thin and fragile, so you must take care when cleaning the lens so as not to damage them. The best cleaning technique is to use a microfibre cloth, a little warm water, and dabbing. When not in use ski goggles should be stored in a soft cloth bag.

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Ski goggles are manufactured from several component layers which provide physical protection from the elements, defense from the sun’s rays and offer a much clearer image of what’s ahead. Prices range from a few pounds to hundreds and can include technology such as head-up display and photochromic lenses.

What Do Ski Goggles Do?


Ski goggles have several important roles to protect the skier, which include:

Physical protection

Without any protection, a strong cold wind will soon have your eyes streaming. Ski goggles can also offer protection from twigs and branches, which can cause painful eye injuries.

Reduced glare

The sunlight higher up a mountain is considerably stronger than at ground level. Up-high sunlight passes through a thinner layer of the atmosphere, so less of the rays are absorbed. This means a higher concentration of UVA, UVB, and UVC light reaches the eyes, which can cause injury.

Now, virtually all ski goggles offer 100% protection against all UV light. The sunlight also reflects off the snow, creating a further hazard, which can permanently damage the retina in the back of the eye.

Contrast and definition

Most ski goggles now come with interchangeable lenses. As the light alters throughout the day, you can substitute lenses to make the best of the conditions. For sunny days, a dark lens is ideal, which will give great contrast and definition. However, if it’s cloudy a yellow lens will really help to show the definition of the snow surface.

What Are The Different Parts of Ski Goggles?

The Frame

The frame is the main body of the goggles, which is made of numerous layers to help with rigidity and wearability. Foam sections help to make the goggles more comfortable on the face.

Ski goggles are designed so that air can circulate on the inside. This helps to quickly remove any fogging caused by sweating or moisture inside the goggles.

The Strap

The strap attaches on either side of the frame, allowing the skier to adjust and wear the goggles.

The Lens

The lens is the most important part of the goggles. The lens is composed of two separate layers, which are kept apart by a thin foam surround. This layer of air is enough to insulate the cold outside and the warm face of the skier and so reduce fogging, like a double-glazed window.

Lenses are manufactured flat, which are then curved around the frame of the goggles, or the lens can be manufactured to be spherical. With the latter, the whole lens is curved, which makes better peripheral vision, and less distortion but at a greater cost.

What Are The Different Types of Lenses in Ski Goggles?

Advances in material science mean there is now a selection of lenses and coatings, which offer many different benefits to the skier. The base lens is usually made from polycarbonate, which, while it is hard plastic, is much less likely to shatter in a collision. The eyes are close to the lens of the goggles, so a shatterproof material is very important.

Polarized Lenses

Goggle lenses have been polarised to help reduce glare from reflected light off the snow. When the light is reflected it becomes horizontally polarised, which can cause unwanted glare.

The polarization removes the horizontally polarised rays to give better contrast. The slight downside of polarised lenses is that they make ice on a run difficult to pick out.

Reflective Coating

Some goggles are manufactured with a reflective coating, which gives a mirror finish where the skier can see out, but no one can see in. These mirror finishes are applied as a coating to the outside of the lens in a variety of colors.

Often the coating is made of a metal oxide such as aluminum, or for more expensive goggles silver and even gold oxides are used.

Photochromic Lenses

A more recent innovation is the use of photochromic lenses, where instead of changing lenses physically to adapt to different light conditions the lens in the goggles reacts automatically.

Millions of photochromic molecules in the coating change crystal structure when exposed to light in a reversible reaction.

As the light level drops the photochromatic lens becomes lighter and allows in more light. Conversely, when the sun reappears the lens reacts to the light and becomes darker.

Scratch Resistant Coating

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The polycarbonate that ski goggle lenses are made from is hard for plastic but not hard enough to stop inadvertent scratches. Scientists have discovered that by applying an extremely thin layer of carbon, the surface of the lens has much more protection.

Antifogging Coating

A very thin layer of a chemical coating applied to the inside of lenses makes them more resistant to fogging up. This occurs when individual water droplets form on the inside of the lens making vision poor.

The antifogging coating reduces the surface tension on the inside of the lens, which makes it difficult for droplets of water to collect to make larger drops. So, the lens remains clear.

What Is The Best Way To Clean The Lenses In Ski Goggles?

Q. Can’t I just clean my goggles like other glasses?

A. No. For two reasons, firstly goggle lenses are more flexible than glasses and so need careful treatment. Secondly, the lens surfaces on both sides are much more delicate, as they are coated with different treatments depending on the specification of the goggles. Rubbing with a cloth will quickly destroy these surface treatments.

Q. So what’s the best technique to clean goggles?

A. Your goggles should be supplied with a cleaning cloth, which is the best product to use, if not, use a good microfibre cloth. Don’t be tempted to use your sleeve when you’re out skiing, instead take off the goggles and shake off the worst of any water or snow. Wait until you’re back home when you can use the correct cloth.

Q. Is it best to wipe the lens at the end of the day?

A. Shake off any water or ice and allow the goggles to dry but not on a radiator. Once dry use the supplied cloth to clean the surface very gently, without rubbing. Use a blotting action instead of wiping, as this is much less likely to cause damage. Allow the goggles to dry naturally after cleaning.

Q. Is it okay to use a cleaning agent or soap on the lens?

A. No. Just use slightly warm water if necessary. The chemicals in solvents and soaps are strong enough to damage the lens coatings.

Q. Do I need to clean the inside lens surface as well?

A. Try to avoid touching the inside lens surface at all. It has an antifogging treatment, which is very prone to damage by rubbing. Most of the time, the inside lens should stay dry and clean and so shouldn’t need cleaning.

Q. I’ve managed to scratch my goggle lens. What can I do?

A. Unfortunately there is no repair. If you really like the goggles you may be able to buy a replacement lens but this is likely to be costly.