Cleaning lighting fixtures

Lighting fixtures - table lamps, floor lamps, and the overhead variety - need a good cleaning about once a month.

It doesn't take long for lighting fixtures to gather dirt, dust, and grime, dimming both your home's ambiance and your fixtures' ability to put out all the wattage you're paying for.

These cleaning solutions for light fixtures and lamp shades can help clear things up.

The Cleaning Basics for Lighting Fixtures

Before cleaning light fixtures, carefully remove the shade or cover. (For lamp shades, clean according to the type of material, see below).

Wipe off the light bulb and base with a damp cloth. Immerse ceiling lamp covers in a sink full of warm, soapy water. Wash gently, rinse and dry thoroughly with a lint-free towel or cloth. 

These cleaning tips also work on brass, chrome, steel, nickel, pewter, and outside light fixtures.

You don't need the harsher, more expensive surface-specific cleaners to get the dirty job done. These cleaners can mar the surface sheen that keeps fixtures looking their best. 

While it may be tempting to pop that glass fixture into the top rack of the dishwasher instead, resist this urge.

The heat in a dishwasher can easily break delicate glass covers or fade exterior detailing. And automatic dishwasher detergent can scratch or dull the decorative design and coating on some fixtures. Be safe and wash by hand.

Cleaning a Chandelier

How to clean a chandelier without taking it down:

  • Turn off the lights. You might even want to turn this one off at the breaker.
  • Take out all the bulbs from the chandelier. Gently wipe to remove all surface dust.
  • Fill two tubs with hot water. Add dish detergent to one container for washing, and ammonia to the other tub for rinsing and to add sparkle. Cushion the bottoms of the tubs with cloths.
  • Remove the chandelier crystals and saucers. Put them in the sudsy water. (Either remove just a few crystal parts at a time or make a diagram of what goes where so you don't have a chandelier jigsaw puzzle to contend with when it's time to put it back together.)
  • Wipe the base of the chandelier. Use a cloth dampened with the wash water. Wash, rinse, and dry all parts.
  • Replace the parts quickly. So you won't forget where they go. Then replace the bulbs.

How to Clean Lamp Shades

The secret to keeping lamp shades clean is to dust them weekly. Once grime builds up, it gets more challenging to remove, especially on more delicate shades such as parchment or fabric.

Here's how to clean lampshades by type:

Green beaded lamp shade.
  • Beaded shades: Vacuum regularly to prevent dust buildup. Wipe occasionally with a damp cloth.
  • Fabric shades: Dust with a soft vacuum attachment; clean professionally if necessary.
  • Glass shades: Wash in dishwashing solution; rinse and dry thoroughly.
  • Metal shades: Wipe with a soft, damp cloth.
  • Paper shades: Wipe; replace when they get too dirty.
  • Parchment shades: Dust; remove marks with an eraser.
  • Plastic shades: Wash in dishwashing solution.
  • Rattan shades: Vacuum often.
  • Silk shades: Clean professionally.

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