We recently stripped the old paper from our parlor walls. Though precautions were taken to keep our chandelier safe while we were working, wallpaper particles and plaster dust found its way to the fixture, leaving the prisms dusty and in need of a good clean. Knowing all too well it would probably be months before we decided on a paint color to finish the room, I figured I'd add some sparkle by showing the chandelier a little love.
There are two common methods used for cleaning chandeliers: Glass on, or Glass off. The first method is to spray your cleaning solution on a damp cloth and use the cloth to wipe down all hanging decorative elements while leaving them attached to the frame. The second is to remove all hanging elements from the fixture and clean each piece separately, attaching them after each piece has been cleaned and polished. It is not recommended to ever spray solution directly onto your chandelier because your cleaning solution could damage any non-crystal elements on the frame.
I chose to clean my chandelier using the second method (glass off) after first attempting to clean it with the glass on. I found it difficult to keep my chandelier still, and since I was working pretty high up I decided it would be best for me to do the majority of my work safely at the dining room table. If you are resurrecting an old vintage or antique fixture, or anything that requires a 7' ladder, I highly recommend the second method.
What You Need
- Cloth gloves
- 2 Lint free cloths
- 1 cup Vinegar
- 3 cups Warm water
- Spray bottle
1. If possible, turn the circuit breaker off in the room where you are working. If this is not possible, turn the light off at the switch and cover over the switch with a large piece of tape as an added precaution.
2. Inspect your chandelier. This is helpful so that if you choose to remove any hanging elements you'll know where to replace everything once you've finished cleaning. Mine had three sections of prisms so I removed each section together and laid them in groups so I would know how to re-hang them when I was finished cleaning. Its also a good idea to take a photo of your chandelier from a few different sides for reference.
2. Get all the excess dust and debris off the fixture with a dry cloth or duster. I use a ceiling fan duster specifically for our light fixtures.
3. Lay out a blanket under your chandelier. In the unfortunate case you should drop something, the blanket will help break the fall and hopefully keep the piece from breaking.
4. Spray a lint-free cloth with a solution of 1 part vinegar, 3 parts warm water and wipe down the spindle and arms of the chandelier. Buff dry with a lint-free cloth. Some folks recommend cleaning your crystal with detergent to really make it sparkle and shine, but I felt a little uneasy about using anything other than vinegar on mine.
5. If you've decided to take the prisms down from the frame for cleaning, now is a good opportunity to check out the prism pins and make any repairs necessary. Grab your needle nose pliers and make any adjustments needed.
6. Clean the prisms by using a cloth dampened with the vinegar/water solution then buff dry with a lint free cloth. For this step I put on the white gloves to keep my fingerprints from leaving smudges. You can find cotton gloves online, or you can hop on over to your local thrift shop and pick up a cute pair of vintage gloves like I did for next to nothing.
7. Hang the prisms according to your reference photo (I replaced everything except the hurricanes on my chandelier ..pretty sure they were added in the 1980's and I decided we could live without them!) step back, and try not to be blinded by your bright and shiny chandelier!
More great tips and tutorials: Cleaning Basics