How to Get Dust Out of Your Eye

Ask the Optician

By Anna MacGabhann
Reviewed by Beck Jinnette
Beck Jinnette

Reviewed by

Beck Jinnette
Beck has over 17 years of experience in eye care, holding her Certificate IV in Dispensing in Australia.
As well as it being irritating, particles like dust should be removed to prevent any potential damage to your eyes.

Our eyes are an essential part of our body and must be taken care of properly. One of the most common issues that people face is getting dust or sand in their eyes. Environmental factors, dust and debris can all cause eye irritations or infections.

In this article, we will discuss some of the essential steps to take to remove any foreign body from your eye. There are several options you can take for this to be done at home, but there is also a point where professional medical care may be required.

Inspect your eye

The first thing you need to do before trying to remove any particles from your eye is to identify where and what it is.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before touching your eye area. This will help prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce the risk of infection.
  • Find a clean, well-lit area to inspect the inside of your lower and upper eyelid, as well as the inner corner. Ideally, you should use a bright light source, such as a lamp or flashlight, to help you see any debris in your eye more clearly.
  • Gently pull down your lower eyelid with your index finger to expose the inner surface of your eyelid.
  • Examine your eye carefully in a mirror. Look for any foreign objects, such as dust, dirt or eyelashes that may be stuck on the surface of your eye or under your eyelid.

If you can see the object, try to remove it with a clean, damp cloth or Q-tip or by flushing it with saline. Do not use your fingers or any sharp objects, such as tweezers, to remove the object in your eye, as this can cause contamination or further eye injuries.

infographic describing how to get dust out of eye
infographic describing how to get dust out of eye

Now that the object has been identified, let’s look at a few options you can take to remove it.

Option 1: Blinking

It may seem like a simple act, but blinking may be the safest and quickest way to remove a foreign object from your eye.

When we blink, our eyelids close and cover the surface of our eyes. This motion creates a natural cleaning mechanism that helps to remove any particles of dust or debris that may have settled on the surface of our eyes. The eyelids act like a windshield wiper, sweeping across the eye to remove any foreign objects.

The process of blinking also stimulates the production of tears, which are crucial for maintaining the health of our eyes. Tears also help to lubricate the eyes, keeping them moist and preventing dryness. They also contain enzymes and proteins that help to fight off infections and remove any harmful particles that may have entered.

Option 2: Flush it with saline or distilled water

If blinking does not remove the debris, it may be time to try and flush out your eye. Naturally, this may feel uncomfortable to do at first, but a steady stream of saline or distilled water to the eye may be the right solution to remove what is lodged there.

Use sterile saline or distilled water to flush out the foreign particle from your eye area. First, fill a sterilised cup or container with saline or distilled water and lean your head over a sink or basin. Next, open and close your eye while pouring the saline or distilled water over it. Continue this process until the particle is thoroughly flushed out.

infographic describing how to flush eye
infographic describing how to flush eye

Is it OK to flush your eye with saline?

Not only is it OK to flush debris from your eyes using saline, but it is also highly recommended. Saline solution is made up of a specific concentration of salt and water that is similar to the natural tears produced by your eyes and it is generally safe to use for eye irrigation.

Is it safe to flush your eyes with tap water?

It is generally not recommended to flush your eyes with tap water, as it may contain harmful impurities or microorganisms that could cause an eye infection or other eye problems.

Tap water may contain various contaminants, including bacteria, viruses and parasites. 


This can cause infections, such as Acanthamoeba keratitis, which is a rare but severe eye infection that can be caused by exposure to contaminated water. Chlorine and other chemicals added to tap water to make it safe for drinking may also irritate the eyes and cause discomfort. If you can, use saline solution or clean distilled water to flush out your eye.

Option 3: Use a wet washcloth or Q-tip to clean it

If flushing your eye out becomes too uncomfortable, another option is to use a washcloth to gently wipe the eyelid until the debris comes out.

First, ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly before touching your eye to prevent any further irritation or infection. Then, wet the washcloth with warm water and wring out any excess moisture.

Place the washcloth or clean Q-tip gently over your eye and blink a few times. This gentle move will allow the water to wash away the dust particles. Repeat the process until the particle is removed from your eye. Remember to use a clean washcloth each time you repeat the process or use a new Q-tip.

Your tears act as a natural cleaner for dust and debris. However, sometimes your eyes need extra help to get rid of particles; you can use saline or clean distilled water to do so.

When to see a doctor

If the foreign substance is severe and you are unable to get it out using the above methods, it is recommended to seek medical attention. An ophthalmologist can determine the cause of the problem and prescribe proper medication or treatment to alleviate the itching sensation and prevent infection.

Removing dust or particles from your eye is a task that needs to be done safely and correctly. If left unattended, it can lead to abnormal vision pain or even vision loss. Following the steps outlined in this article can help to remove dust from your eyes in a safe and efficient manner.

What to do if you get a chemical in your eye

If you get chemicals in your eye, it is crucial to act quickly to minimise the potential damage to your eye. It helps to safely flush your eye, as outlined previously, to dilute the chemical liquid. 


If you wear contact lenses, it’s important to remove them as soon as possible as they can trap harmful liquid inside the eye. Always consult medical help- even if you think the chemical is gone, a doctor will be able to assess the extent of the damage and provide appropriate treatment.

What should I do if I get metal or wood in my eyes?

If you can no longer remove objects from your eye using the outlined options, please consult an eye doctor. Whether the object is glued into the eye or buried in the tissue under the eye’s surface, you should go straight to the emergency room to fix this problem. If something is embedded in your eye, dealing with this at home is not recommended.

If you work in an environment where eye injury is more likely to happen, protect your eyes at all times by wearing the correct eyewear. Protective goggles can minimise the chances of hazards entering your eyes and causing long-lasting trauma.

Can dust in your eye cause permanent damage?

Dust particles in your eye can cause irritation, redness and discomfort. However, in most cases, they do not cause permanent damage to the eye. The eye has a natural mechanism to remove foreign particles. As outlined, certain types of debris, such as glass, chemicals, metal or wood, can be more dangerous and require immediate first aid.

Can you avoid getting dust in your eye?

Although getting dust in your eye is not preventable, it is essential to know what to do when the unfortunate happens. Knowing the correct steps to take is a great step toward personal eye health. Put your mind at ease with more tips and helpful advice like this by visiting our optical centre.

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