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Light Fixture Cleaning Tips

Dust, bugs, airborne cooking oils and more - it doesn't take long for these home-based interlopers to find their way onto your lighting fixtures. These soils are the most common blights you'll find on your lights, dimming both your home's ambiance and your fixtures' ability to put out all the wattage you're paying for.


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The good news: Cleaning these surfaces needn't be a supercharged effort. Regular once-overs with a rag or dust cloth, optimally whenever you do your regular house cleaning but at least each time you change the bulb, will keep most of the grime from settling in for a permanent stay. Whether your fixtures are sconces or lamps, brass, glass or chrome fixtures, regular cleaning will keep them bright, attractive pieces of your home's decor.


Light Fixture

A few important ground rules:

  1. Remember the "less-is-more adage" when cleaning your delicate light fixtures.
  2. Always make sure the fixture is off before you begin cleaning it.
  3. Check for frayed wires before you start cleaning. If you notice any damage, have the fixture fixed before cleaning. 

If you've skipped a few buffing sessions and your brass, chrome, steel, nickel or pewter finishes are looking a bit dull, resist the urge to lather on brass or other abrasive cleaners. These can mar the manufacturer-applied wax or sealer that keeps the fixture looking its best. Instead, gently rub the surface with a damp cloth.


Glass fixtures, such as wall sconces, can be safely deep cleaned with a mild cleaner such as hand dish-washing liquid or glass cleaner. Always wash by hand - not in the dish washer. Overly enthusiastic cleanings and harsher automatic dish-washing liquids can scratch the decorative design and coating on some fixtures. Plastic recessed covers, commonly found in kitchen cabinet under-counter fixtures, can be similarly cleaned in the sink with hand dish-washing liquid when the covers appear cloudy with cooking oils and dust.


For hard-to-reach fixtures, a stepladder or an extended reach dust and dirt removal tool and a vacuum dust brush will keep them looking clean and grime-free.




Light Fixture Cleaning Tips:  Created on January 30th, 2012.  Last Modified on January 21st, 2014


About Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is author of Housekeeping With Kids. Her San Francisco Chronicle column entitled "Coming Clean" — focusing on household cleaning and maintenance — reaches 1.5 million readers. Aronson is an expert in home cleaning and organizing. Her advice has appeared in numerous national and regional publications, including Ladies' Home Journal, The Washington Post and Woman's World. Visit Tara's Web site.

Aronson is fast becoming a familiar face on national television (Living It Up with Ali & Jack, Soap Talk, The Other Half, CNNfn, etc.) and is also a much sought-after lifestyle expert for local television news and radio programs nationwide.

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