How to clean and maintain light fixtures
Let there be light!
You pay each month for the light that brightens your home, so it’s important to take steps for electrical maintenance, and cleaning your light fixtures is a good place to start to help the efficiency of your electrical system.
Be sure to always keep safety top of mind. Turn off the electricity to fixtures before cleaning, and wear goggles for extra protection from dust and cleaning products. Make sure your ladder is sturdy before climbing on it to reach the lights.
Once you're safely prepared, here's how to clean your home light fixtures:
Dirty lightbulbs shed less light than clean ones, which results in wasted energy and dimmed lighting. Wipe down each lightbulb thoroughly with a dry microfiber cloth to remove dust. Pro tip from HouseLogic: Dryer sheets are an affordable and effective alternative to microfiber cloths for dusting lightbulbs. Keep in mind that you should never use a damp or wet cloth, as water can damage the electronics of the bulb or lamp. Similarly, spraying cleaning products directly on the bulb can damage it.
Ceiling fixtures get dusty and grimy quickly, sometimes becoming home to dead bugs and other less-than-ideal debris. As tempting as it may be, never put a ceiling fixture cover in the dishwasher, as it can cause the glass to break. Instead, carefully remove the fixture cover, throw away large pieces of debris, and then soak it in a sink or container filled with warm, soapy water. Dry with a microfiber cloth. Remember to dust the lightbulbs before replacing the cover.
Cleaning these intricate beauties can be intimidating, but as long as you exercise extra caution, you'll be fine. Dust chandeliers weekly, and deep clean the crystals once or twice a year. If you can manage it, take the chandelier down, and lay it on a towel for cleaning. Otherwise, use a ladder, and clean the chandelier while it hangs. Always dust it with a microfiber cloth or a lambswool duster before cleaning. You can use a store-bought product, or make your own. A 50-50 solution of water and vinegar will work, but you can also add mild dish soap. Put the solution in a spray bottle, and spritz the crystals. Let them dry, and then polish with a microfiber cloth.
Polished metal fixtures
The most important thing to remember for these fixtures is to avoid abrasive materials or cleaners that can damage the coating. Instead, clean polished metal fixtures with a soft cloth, plain water and mild detergent soap. For added protection, you can wipe the fixture down with a non-abrasive paste or liquid wax.
Start by removing the lens and fluorescent bulbs. Clean them, as well as inside the fixture, with a soft, dry cloth. If it's filthy, you can use a slightly damp cloth and a mild detergent for a deeper clean. Wipe down fluorescent tubes thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth. While you can use soap and water on these fixtures, avoid abrasive cleaning products, including ammonia and alcohol.
Don't forget to clean the decorative elements of your light fixtures, too. For soft lamp shades made of paper, fabric or silk, use a lambswool duster. It'll remove the dust without leaving the residue or marks that a rag likely would. For deeper cleaning, you can use the brush attachment on your vacuum. This tool is especially useful for getting into the crevices of embellished lamp shades. If you have glass shades, remove them and soak in warm soapy water. Dry thoroughly before putting them back on the lamps.
Remember: regular cleaning is a tried-and-true preventative maintenance tactic.
Being prepared for electrical home repairs is always a good idea. Plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs.