How to Clean Chandeliers and Light Fixtures

As days shorten, lights take center stage, and turning them on can spotlight grime. Here’s how to make them sparkle in minutes.

Biggest Challenges

  1. Hard-to-reach cobwebs
  2. Filmy crystals, dusty bulbs
  3. Dingy lampshades

Fastest Fixes

1. Wipe out webs. Dust and cobwebs seem to disappear when it’s dark, so to nab the pesky problems, turn the lights on before you start cleaning. Either use a long-handled duster or make one: Wrap a yardstick or broom handle at the end with a dampened dusting cloth or old sock; secure with a rubber band. Starting with your hanging fixtures, run your duster around each light’s ceiling attachment and along the chain. Next, carefully work the duster through the fixture to catch any webs dangling inside. For less-intricate globe overhead lights, a gentle whisk around the glass cover should nab any dust or debris.

2. Get crystals (and bulbs) clear. Taking down and hand-washing chandelier crystals one by one is the definition of chore. Instead, give yours this speedy, two-fisted approach. For the low-hanging dining room fixture, arm yourself with a microfiber cloth in one hand and a premoistened glass-cleaning wipe in the other (or make your own by spritzing a paper towel with glass cleaner). Turn the lights off, since liquids plus electricity equals a bad idea, then wipe and dry each crystal from the top of the fixture down, so you won’t smudge already-clean crystals by reaching over them. To avoid damaging the cord and connections, don’t spin the chandelier; instead, move yourself around it. If possible, push the table out of the way or use a step stool for better access. Next, the bulbs: Using your microfiber cloth, wipe each one, giving a gentle twist to be sure it’s secure in its socket. When using your step stool, you’ll need to reposition it a few times to work your way around — or, if you don’t see any burned-out bulbs to replace, just skip the high-wire act entirely and do your best from the ground with your long-reach duster.

3. Fix a shady situation. For pleated shades on floor or table lamps, grab a clean paintbrush to quickly whisk dust from inside each pleat, working from top to bottom all the way around the shade. Run the same brush over the bulb and the wire that holds the shade in place. Nonpleated shades don’t gather as much mess, so a once-over with a duster, microfiber cloth, or even a lint roller should do it. Use a duster or microfiber cloth to spiff up the lamp’s base.


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