The last time I was editing my photographs I realised I had a few funny small blotches on parts of my photos. After wiping my computer screen I realised with horror that the marks must have been from my camera. I have since gone about finding the best way to clean my lenses at home, without having to send them in. Here are few tips I've picked up as well as a few basic things to keep your camera in tip top condition.
Use an air blower, like the one pictured above to remove loose dust particles. Simply press the bulb end and air will be forced out of the spout. This is the easiest and safest thing to try first with your lens.
When dust and/or smudges are on your lens glass, use a microfiber cloth designed for optical lenses to wipe it off. Make sure to use a clean microfiber cloth, as those cloths can hold dust, dirt and oil from your fingertips which can then be transferred to your lens. Be careful when cleaning the glass. If you do get something like sand on your lens and you rub it with a cloth, you may scratch your lens. Use a soft brush to brush off dirt or sand. Do not rub those away as they may cause scratches.
Change your lenses indoors (or in your car if you are out and about) if you can manage it. If you are outdoors, try and block the wind with your body as it can blow dust, dirt and other nasties into your camera and lenses.
Once you change lenses, quickly place the end cap on the removed lens, to prevent dirt and dust from setting into it. Also, quickly attach the new lens to the camera, to prevent dust and dirt getting into your camera sensor. And, while changing lenses, point them downward so dust and dirt don’t settle in.
Keep the lens cap on the front glass when you're not using your lens. Even better, place the lens in the protective cover that comes with it, or put it away in your camera bag.
Use a filter or lens hood to protect the lens glass from getting scratched or broken.
Do you have any other tips for cleaning your lenses and keeping them in tip top condition?