Getting something in your eyes can be incredibly painful and even dangerous. Dirt, dust, and pollutants from the air can cause serious irritation and scratches on the surface. So it’s important that you act fast, with caution, and know what to do if something gets caught in your eyes. Here are some tips for cleaning your eyes properly in various scenarios.

Household Chemicals

If you accidentally splash chemicals into your eyes when doing the laundry, getting ready to fertilize the lawn, or cleaning the pool, you should immediately rinse them with cool water in the sink, with a medicine cup, or eye dropper. If you happen to wear contact lenses, take them out while rinsing your eyes. Even if it stings, you should continue to flush your eyes with water for approximately 15 minutes and then proceed to call poison control on the back of the container. 

The operator will be able to tell you the next steps and whether or not you will need to head to the emergency room for proper care. If you do need to visit the ER, make sure you have someone else drive you. Don’t forget to take note of which chemical splashed into your eyes.


Pus and mucus from a blocked teardrop, cold, pink eye, or allergies can dry into a very uncomfortable film. To remove it properly, start by breaking it up and then applying a warm, moist washcloth to your closed eye. Wait a few minutes until the remaining film loosens and washes off. Then, use a dry cloth or cotton ball to gently dab (never rub) underneath the eye until clean. Use two separate swabs if you have pink eye so you don’t transfer the infection to the other eye.

Dirt, Dust, Pollutants, and Debris

It’s not uncommon to get particles in your eye when outside. This can cause some serious eye irritation and sometimes even pain. The proper way to clean your eyes in this situation is first to let your tears remove any objects. Then, rinse your eyes with cool or warm water for a few minutes to remove the irritant. If this doesn’t work, you can use eye drops if you have these on hand. 

If something substantial is stuck or you have trouble with opening your eyes, you should proceed to the emergency room. Otherwise, use a washcloth or cotton ball to remove it from the corner of your eye gently.

Proper Practices for Everyday Cleaning

Maintaining your eye hygiene on a daily basis is essential for preventing irritation and infection. Here are some practices to incorporate into your routine:

  • Wash your hands: Always begin by thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water before touching your eye area. This step is crucial to avoid transferring dirt, bacteria, or viruses.
  • Use a clean, soft cloth: Opt for a clean, soft cloth or tissue when cleaning your eyes. Avoid using rough or dirty materials that could scratch or irritate the sensitive surface of your eyes.
  • Start from the inside: Wipe from the inner corner of your eye towards the outer corner, using a clean section of the cloth or tissue for each eye. This prevents the potential spread of dirt or bacteria from one eye to the other.
  • Be gentle: Treat your eyes with care. Avoid excessive rubbing or pressure, as this can cause irritation and damage. Instead, use gentle, sweeping motions.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals: Never use harsh chemicals or household cleaners on or around your eyes. Stick to approved, sterile saline solutions for moisture and cleaning.
  • Remove makeup carefully: If you wear eye makeup, remove it gently. The best practice is always to remove it before you go to sleep. Use a makeup remover specifically designed for the eyes, and avoid using excessive rubbing.
  • Regularly replace eye makeup: Mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow have a shelf life. Replace them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • Maintain contact lens hygiene: If you wear contact lenses, always follow the prescribed cleaning and storage instructions provided by your eye care professional. Never reuse old solutions or water. Avoid swimming or showering while wearing them.
  • Visit your optometrist if something isn’t right: If you’re unsure how to clean your eyes properly or are experiencing irritation, schedule an appointment with your optometrist. If the pain and irritation are severe, go to your nearest hospital.

Why Following Correct Procedures Matters

Proper eye cleaning isn’t just a matter of personal hygiene; it’s a critical aspect of maintaining eye health. Failing to practice safe procedures can have harmful effects. Therefore, following the correct methods is essential to prevent infections, irritation, and vision loss. Rubbing your eyes with dirty hands, using unclean materials, or applying inappropriate solutions can introduce harmful microorganisms or irritants that may lead to discomfort, redness, and even more severe infection.

Misguided cleaning practices, like using an abrasive cloth or expired eye drops to clean your eyes, can also cause more harm than good. Your eyes are sensitive organs, so taking safe measures to keep them clean is a necessity.

Maintaining Your Eye Health with Laurier Optical

The best protection is always prevention. Be mindful of protecting your eyes, especially when using any chemicals or heading out on a windy day. At Laurier Optical, we have a wide range of frames and sunglasses that you can wear both inside and out to give your eyes the best protection. Feel free to Come by today and get an eye test in Ottawa.