🤬😆😃 This article was co-authored by David Felsted, DO and by wikiHow staff writer, Dan Hickey. Dr. David Felsted is a Comprehensive Ophthalmologist based in Flagstaff, Arizona. He specializes in cataract and refractive surgery, micro-invasive glaucoma surgery, ophthalmic lasers, dry eye disease, diabetic retinopathy, and ocular trauma. Dr. Felsted holds a BS in Accounting from Brigham Young University and a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Midwestern University. He completed his Ophthalmic residency at The Medical College of Georgia.
There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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🤬😆😃 If your nails are long or you don’t like touching your eye with your fingertips, you’re probably wondering how to remove your contact lenses. Thankfully, it’s easy to use an ordinary cotton swab to take out your lenses safely and quickly. We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to removing your contact lenses with a cotton swab, plus how to clean and store your lenses for maximum protection. Read on to take out your lenses with confidence!
1 1 of 11:Wash your hands.
- Thoroughly scrub your hands with soap and hot water to kill germs. Bacteria from your hands can hop to your contact lens case and then to your contacts, leading to infection or irritation in your eyes. Dry your hands well with a clean, lint-free cloth.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
2 2 of 11:Prep your contact lens case.
- Rinse and rub the interior of your case with contact solution to clean it. If there’s old contact solution sitting in the case, dump it out (reusing or "topping off" old solution can result in infection). Dry the case with a clean tissue.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
- Use the contact lens solution recommended by your optometrist or eye care provider.
- Don’t use water to clean your case—it may contain particles or bacteria that can accumulate on your contact lenses.
- Anytime you get a new bottle of contact solution, throw away your old case and get a new one to decrease your chance of getting an infection (most bottles of solution come with a case).
3 3 of 11:Apply eye drops.
- Add a few drops of saline solution to both eyes before lens removal. Tilt your head back and use your non-dominant hand to hold your eyelids open. With your dominant hand, gently squeeze 1 or 2 drops of saline solution into your eye. Release your lids and blot any excess solution with a clean tissue.XResearch source
- Saline solution hydrates the contacts and your eyeballs, which makes it easier to slide the contacts out and reduces your risk of corneal abrasion.
4 4 of 11:Grab a clean cotton swab.
- Once your eye drops have settled, bend a fresh cotton swab in half. Use a double-ended swab with a cotton bud on each end. After bending, the 2 cotton buds should be lined up and the swab should look like a pair of tweezers or chopsticks.XResearch source
- Always use a clean cotton swab each time you remove your contacts (reusing the same one makes it more likely you’ll spread bacteria to your eyes).
- Alternatively, bend the swab into 3 sections (2 grabbing sections and a middle section between them) to help your grip if necessary.XResearch source
5 5 of 11:Dip the ends of the swab in contact solution.
- Moisten both cotton buds so they are more compact and less fibrous. This makes it less likely that a cotton fiber will stick to your contacts or get in your eye when you take them out. It will also help you get a good grip on the lens.XResearch source
- This step is optional, but helpful!
6 6 of 11:Begin with the same eye each time.
- Pick an eye to start with to keep track of your left and right lenses. Your contacts aren’t interchangeable and might have different prescriptions, so you’ll want to keep them straight. It doesn’t matter which eye you choose—the right or the left will work fine.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Optometric AssociationProfessional medical organization dedicated to supporting optometrists and improving public eye and vision healthGo to source
7 7 of 11:Look straight ahead.
- Face forward without angling your head up or down. If you’re new to contact lenses, standing or sitting in front of a well-lit mirror is a good idea. If it’s helpful, look slightly upward with just your eyes before you grab the lenses—it’s usually easier to grip the bottom third or half of the lens than the exact center.XResearch source
8 8 of 11:Raise the cotton buds up to the contact lens.
- Grip the swab in your dominant hand and place the buds on opposite edges of the lens. Some people can hold their eye open with only their facial muscles. If you’re struggling to stop blinking, use your non-dominant pointer finger and thumb to hold your eyelids apart while you operate the swab.XResearch source
- It takes a while to get used to the sensation of touching your eye. Be patient and stay optimistic while you navigate this process for the first time!
9 9 of 11:Pinch the buds together.
- Gently press the buds together on the lens to get a secure grip. This motion mimics the way you would use your fingertips to remove the lens. After the lens folds in on itself between the buds, carefully pull the lens away from your eye and voilà! You’ve successfully removed your contact lens.XResearch source
- If the lens is folded but you lost your grip on it, blink a few times to help push it out of your eye.
- If you’re struggling to get a good grip on it, use one end of the swab to gently drag the contact off the cornea and down onto your sclera (the white part of your eye).
10 10 of 11:Rub the contact lens clean.
- Rub the lens with contact solution between your pointer finger and thumb. This is the best way to get rid of any deposits or bacteria that built up on the lens before you store it. This will also remove any swab fibers that might have stuck to the lens during removal.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
- Rub your lenses clean after every removal to make them last longer and protect your eye health.
- Only use a contact lens disinfecting solution to clean them. Water or saliva aren’t sterile and will actually put more germs onto your lens.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
11 11 of 11:Put the lens in your contact case.
- Drop the contact into your case and fill the well with fresh contact solution. Contact cases are usually marked "left" and "right" (or "L" and "R") to help you keep track of which lens is which, so make sure to put it in the correct well. Securely twist or snap the lid of the well shut.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Optometric AssociationProfessional medical organization dedicated to supporting optometrists and improving public eye and vision healthGo to source
- Read the instructions on the contact solution bottle or packaging to find out how long you should keep your lenses stored.
- Once your first contact lens is secured in the case, you can repeat this process with your other eye.