Light Work: How to Clean Your Light Fixtures
Light fixtures brighten your space, but they're also a major dust collector. Ick.
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Learning how to clean light fixtures safely keeps your room looking great and feeling bright without a layer of dust dimming the light. Here's a how-to guide.
How to Clean Different Types of Light Fixtures and Elements
For most light fixtures, you can use a duster or soft cloth to wipe away a layer of dust. However, there are some special considerations for different types of light fixtures.
Some lightbulbs, such as incandescents, get very hot when they're on, so make sure the bulb is cool before you handle it. Taking the bulb out of the fixture makes it easier to clean, especially if it's a ceiling-mounted light.
If the lightbulb just has a light coating of dust, you can usually wipe it clean with a dry, soft cloth or duster. If it has gunk on it, use a damp cloth to wipe it clean. Always take the bulb out before using water to avoid a shock. Make sure the bulb is completely dry before you put it back into the socket.
You'll need a ladder or step stool to clean light fixtures that are mounted to the ceiling. Make sure to shut off the power to the fixture before you do anything with it.
You can use a duster to go over all surfaces of the light fixture. Some ceiling-mounted lights have covers that come off, which makes it easier to wash them. Clean the covers separately with a damp cloth or soapy water and dry them completely before reinstalling them. While the shades are off, climb your ladder carefully and wipe the frame with a duster or damp cloth.
Cleaning track lighting is a similar process, but you can typically take off each light completely by sliding it along the track.
Taking out the lightbulb makes it easier to clean recessed lights. Wipe the bulb down like any other lightbulb. Then, take a cloth and wipe the frame and recessed portion of the fixture with the power off.
Chandeliers are often full of crystals or other delicate embellishments that can be difficult to clean, especially if the chandelier is mounted high off the ground. Canned air is one way to gently clean off dust from chandeliers. You can also get crystal chandelier cleaner if light dusting isn't enough. Simply spray the cleaner onto the chandelier and let it dry.
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The main concern with metal light fixtures is scratching the finish. Avoid any abrasive cleaners or scratchy cleaning tools. Another concern is tarnishing, which can happen if you use harsh cleaning chemicals. Using a duster or dry cloth is the safest option to avoid damaging the metal finish or protective coating.
If you need extra cleaning power, dampen the cloth. Mild dish soap is generally safe to use on metal as well. If you use moisture to clean the metal fixture, dry it with a soft, lint-free towel when you're done to prevent corrosion.
Fabric lampshades collect dust and can be difficult to clean. Using a feather duster or lint roller will usually take off the layer of dust. Be careful not to break or crease the lampshade. Fabric lampshades that are sewn instead of glued can be washed with soapy water in the tub. Wipe them gently with a cloth and fill the tub back up with clean water to rinse them. Paper lamp shades shouldn't be cleaned with any water or moisture. You might also find lampshades on wall sconces that work with this same method.
Remove the cover and clean it with soapy water, making sure it's dry before putting it back in place. For the fluorescent tubes, use a duster or cloth to wipe away any dust or dirt.
How Often to Clean Light Fixtures
How often fixtures need cleaning depends on how dusty your house is and the location of the lights. Lights in your kitchen might get grease or food splatters on them and require more frequent cleaning, for example. It's a good idea to dust your light fixtures whenever you clean, or at least every few weeks. A deeper clean usually only needs to happen once or twice per year.