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The Best Way To Clean Every Type Of Light Fixture

cleaning light fixtures

I have to admit, cleaning the light fixtures in my home is one of those cleaning chores that I tend to put off as long as possible. But when I finally get around to doing it, I can’t believe the difference it makes! It gives the room a new life, plus it ensures that I’m getting the most out of the lifespan of my light bulbs. So as painful as it is to consider, this chore definitely needs to be on your spring cleaning “to-do” list!

With clean light fixtures on the brain, today I’m sharing some simple tips for once-a-week maintenance cleaning, as well as some advice on how best to do a deep clean on your light fixtures, whether they’re domes, pendants, chandeliers, or even recessed lighting. Here’s to a bright future! :-)

How To Clean Light Fixtures

cleaning light fixtures

1. Dust Your Light Fixtures Frequently

As I’m sure you’re aware, light fixtures are MAGNETS for dust and dirt…but a weekly dusting should be enough to keep your fixtures from getting buried beneath it. ;-)

I purchased an extendable duster a few weeks ago, and it has made the process of dusting my light fixtures and ceiling fans SO much easier. Not only can I stay firmly on the ground while dusting, but the fuzzy duster head is great at trapping dust and dirt, rather than just knocking it down onto my floors. If you don’t have an extendable duster, a step ladder and a dry microfiber cloth will work just as well (or you can attach a microfiber cloth to the end of your broom with a rubber band—it gets the job done!)

2. Deep Clean Your Light Fixtures Occasionally

A weekly dusting of your ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, and recessed lighting is important, but it’s just as important to give them a deep cleaning once or twice a year. Here are some tips that can make clean specific types of fixtures and their various features easier.

cleaning light fixtures

Wipe Grimy Light Bulbs

Dusty light bulbs can really cut back the brightness you should be getting from your lights. To clean them, simply wipe the cool bulbs with a dry microfiber cloth. If they are seriously grimy, dampen the cloth. Let the bulbs dry completely before replacing, especially if you have gotten any dampness on the electrical contact itself.

cleaning light fixtures

Wash Glass Covers

For fixtures with glass covers, such as dome lights or glass pendant lights, removing the glass will be the easiest and most effective way to clean them. Support the glass firmly with your hands while you remove the screws or clamps holding it in place, then when you’ve safely removed the glass from the fixture, dump any dirt or dead bugs out into the trash.

Fill a bucket or your sink with warm, soapy water, and when the glass is cool, soak it in the soapy water for a few minutes. (As tempting as it may be, avoid washing glass covers in your dishwasher—the glass is likely more brittle than you think, and no one wants to clean broken glass out of the bottom of their dishwasher.)

After soaking the glass for a few minutes, use a sponge or cloth to wipe away any remaining grime, then dry it completely with a towel. If needed, clean the bulbs themselves following the guidelines above, then replace the glass with the screws or clamps.

(If you can’t remove the glass, or would rather clean them in place, be sure to spray your cleaning solution onto a cleaning cloth first, rather than directly onto the fixture.)

cleaning light fixtures

Can Lights/Recessed Lighting

For those with recessed lighting, you’re in luck—these fixtures are simple to clean! To wipe down the inside of each fixture, carefully remove the cool lightbulb and use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe around the sides while avoiding the light socket.

If there is stubborn grime, dampen your microfiber cloth with water or the water/vinegar solution mentioned in the section on chandeliers below, wipe, then allow the surface to dry completely before replacing the bulb.

cleaning light fixtures

Chandeliers

If you have a small chandelier, especially one with dangling crystals or other features, it will be far easier to clean it piece-by-piece at your table or on your floor, rather than trying to clean it in place from on top of a ladder. (For help with your specific chandelier, I recommend looking it up on YouTube to see what you can find.)

Before you remove anything from your chandelier, snap a photo of it with your phone so you have a reference to look at when it’s time to put it back together.

To clean your chandelier pieces, make a diluted vinegar cleaning solution by mixing 1 part vinegar and 3 parts warm water. Dampen a clean microfiber cloth with the vinegar solution, then use the damp cloth to gently clean each piece. Use a clean cloth to dry each piece once it’s clean, and you’ll be amazed at how much they shine!

cleaning light fixtures

Fabric/Paper Lamp Shades

You can either remove lamp shades to clean them, or clean them in place by vacuuming them gently with a soft upholstery attachment. (If they’re just dusty, a lint roller can make short work of it!) Don’t forget to wipe down the harp while you’re at it (if your lamp has one), and check to see if the bulb needs to be wiped down too.

4 Important Tips For Cleaning Light Fixtures Safely

  • Light fixture maintenance can be a bit dangerous, so be sure to follow these 4 tips to keep yourself safe:
  • Be very careful whenever you use a ladder, and have someone there to spot you just in case.
  • Light bulbs that have been in place for a long time can sometimes stick when you try to remove them. If a bulb feels stuck, pull on a pair of heavy gloves or use a cloth to grasp the bulb before trying again.
  • To avoid getting burned, be sure the light you want to clean has been turned off for at least one hour before attempting to clean the bulbs or fixture.
  • Remember that you are working around electricity—make sure everything is bone dry before you flip the lights back on!

What’s your best tip for cleaning light fixtures? 

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Homekeeping Tips

  • Wow! Don’t use the dishwasher? That’s the only way I’ve washed light globes and ceiling fan light covers for 20 years. No problem!

  • I had a hard time of cleaning the light fixtures, but i left that behind now I use these tips. I have the result that i wanted to have! It’s amazing how I can find so much about many things here!

  • I heard the way to clean a Tiffany type light is to use lemon oil with a paper towel. The reason I was told was because if water is used, the metal between the glass segments would turn white. Is this right? What is your method of cleaning them?

    • I would try using just warm water and then adding a drop or two of lemon oil to the water if water alone doesn’t remove the gunk. When working with something so delicate, it’s best to use the least amount of cleaner possible!

  • While cleaning my bathroom fixture I dropped the screw on the front to hold it in, The cover was c shaped and I can’t find a replacement. I just need the white screw like part . I’ve looked all over the house to find the one I dropped or another one at the store, The new lights just aren’t the same. Any help?

  • Thanks for these tips for cleaning glass fixtures. I noticed that my light fixtures have been looking pretty dusty, so I need to clean them. Most of my fixtures have glass covers, so I should try your tip to remove them and soak the glass in water for a few minutes to wash away any dirt and grime effectively. That seems like a great way to make them look like new again.

  • I want to tell you that I cleaned the light fixture over our dining room table a month ago. I have to take it apart to do it. It is the style with 5 hurricane globes and circular. It’s a lot of work but the end result is great! I wash all the globes in hot soapy water and dry them with a microfiber cloth. While the globes are off the light I dust all the light bulbs and wipe every thing down. Now for the rest of my overhead lights and various lamps throughout the house!

  • This is how I clean my “ceiling fans”……..I look at them, then my hubby and say “Honey, let’s go see a good movie!” Job done…….

  • Instead of taking chandeliers apart, turn the light off, put newspaper or a plastic tablecloth underneath and spray with vinegar/water mixture. All the dirt will drip onto the surface below.

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