Why Is The Rubber On My Binoculars Sticky?

Owning and using a pair of binoculars over a long period will make them more susceptible to usual wear and tear but sometimes they can become sticky which makes them uncomfortable or practical to use.

Don’t worry, this isn’t the end for your binoculars and they can be restored to their usual glory either through home remedies or by sending them to a professional to sort them out.

If you’ve got a pair of binoculars where the rubber has gone sticky then we’ll be guiding you through some of the possible reasons that have caused this and what you can do to fix this problem if and when it occurs.

Why Is The Rubber On My Binoculars Sticky?

What causes the rubber to go sticky on binoculars?

Stickiness on the rubber of your binoculars can be caused by heavy use in certain conditions or weather. Rain can cause the armoring on the binoculars to wear down over time and become sticky, often leaving some residue on your hands after using them.

If you’re out camping or hiking in the woods with your binoculars, then touching bushes or tree sap on the trees can transfer onto the rubber of your binoculars and cause them to become sticky and leave a residue on your hands each time you touch them.

Bug spray like mosquito or bug repellent and sunscreen could be one of the causes of this issue, so make sure to keep your hands as clean as possible before using your binoculars or you could be transferring products onto them.

If you’re outdoors in the heat using your binoculars or you’re moving about a lot, then the sweat from your hands can transfer onto the rubber of the binoculars and cause it to start going sticky. The rubber coating on binoculars can revert to its original state when in the correct conditions.

Rubber is naturally a sticky substance and it goes through a process called vulcanization which involves heating the rubber with other chemicals to transform the rubber from being sticky to then becoming stretchy making it the ideal material to cover binoculars with. 

If your binoculars are exposed to high heat or strong UV exposure then this could cause the rubber to break down and become sticky, returning to its natural state. 

In some cases, brands that make binoculars don’t like to spend money on the curing spray used to set the rubber after making them. This leaves the rubber more vulnerable from wearing down from environmental reasons and also just general wear and tear. 

How do you clean sticky binoculars?

There are various methods you can do to restore the rubber armoring back to its smooth non-sticky texture regardless of what has caused them to deteriorate. 

One of the easiest things to do to fix stickiness is by wiping them down with normal wipes to remove the sticky consistency on the surface, if this doesn’t seem to get everything off then you can try using some stronger alcohol-based wipes to restore the surface to normal. 

You may want to use a q-tip or a toothbrush to get to the sticky bits in hard-to-reach crevices of the binoculars. 

However, most people find the most effective solution is to dampen a paper towel with rubbing alcohol and rub the rubber surface on the binoculars until all the stickiness has been removed.

We’d recommend using some latex gloves to protect your hands from the smell of the alcohol and also because the process can get quite messy.

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, then you can also try using mild dish soap, water, and a cloth to try and remove the sticky surface from the rubber. However, try not to use products that are too harsh otherwise it could cause further degradation.

Try to be cautious with how much water you use as you don’t want to damage the components on your binoculars. 

If the rubber on your binoculars has gone beyond being sticky and has started peeling off, then you’ll need to take more serious action to get them looking new again. This could be a DIY job or you could take them to a professional shop to save yourself the stress of possibly ruining them. 

If you’re going to try and attempt it yourself, before doing so, try to check over the binoculars to see if they’ll allow you to remove the rubber armoring properly without damaging them. 

This bit can get a little tricky, so if you don’t trust yourself we would recommend taking them to a camera or an optics store. They’ll have the right materials and equipment to get your binoculars back into shape as best as they can, or they’ll also be able to advise you to just buy a new pair if they’re beyond repair.

However, if your binoculars are still in great working condition then we’d recommend overlooking this minor problem as you’ll still be able to get great use out of them.

How to prevent my binoculars from getting sticky?

Giving your binoculars a quick clean after every time you use them will ensure no residue from body products, moisture, or plant sap is left on the rubber. You can use alcohol wipes to clean down the rubber area, wait for them to dry, and put them back into their storage case.

You should also ensure your binoculars are stored in a ventilated area that doesn’t have high humidity levels as this can also cause the rubber armory on binoculars to break down and start sticking.

Sometimes there is no way to prevent the stickiness forming on the rubber of binoculars, it’s part of the process of owning them, however, if you follow the right care and maintenance you’ll be able to minimize the stickiness and keep your binoculars looking great for as long as possible.