Mar 25, 2024 - Business

We tried it: A $5 airport glasses-cleaning machine

A tall, silver machine for cleaning glasses in a hallway of Terminal A of Houston's airport.

Glasses, fresh out of the cleaning machine. Photo: Alan Neuhauser for Axios

With a swipe of your credit card, a small machine in Terminal A of Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport will wash your glasses for $5.

Why it matters: As What's Next editor Alex Fitzpatrick puts it, "The best part of coming home from a long trip is giving my glasses a proper cleaning."

State of play: With a flight home delayed by almost two hours, and nothing much else to do, I gave the OpticWash a try.

  • The automated process resembled a gas station car wash, replete with power dryers.
  • The sudden "CLEAN YOUR GLASSES" message that popped on screen resembled RoboCop.

By the numbers: The wash and dry took about three minutes.

Between the lines: There's nothing quite like the spike of panic when you hear some kind of gate announcement and realize your glasses are locked inside a cleaning machine that for some reason you decided to pay $5 to use.

  • You'll also draw looks from passersby wondering who's the guy who decided to use that glasses-cleaning machine.

Yes, but: My specs are squeaky clean — just in time for the trip home.

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