A chandelier — whether it's passed down as a family heirloom, came as a bonus with the house you purchased or is newly installed — instantly signifies elegance and makes any home look more put-together. While some chandeliers are made of expensive crystal, others are made of less costly materials like glass or even synthetics. No matter what kind of chandelier you might have, dust, spider webs and general home debris make their home on your beautiful fixture and it will need to be cleaned. And chandelier cleaning can be tricky.
These lamps hang from the ceiling and typically feature many intricate parts, so there are a lot of crevices for dust to build up in. Hiring a professional cleaner can be costly, but the idea of climbing up there and doing a deep-clean yourself is intimidating. So how can you clean a chandelier with minimal fuss? We spoke to a lighting expert to find out.
How often do I need to clean a chandelier?
Since chandeliers are hung high up, you might not even notice when they get dirty. But, if you can't remember the last time you've cleaned it, it might be good to finally get in there. Unlike many household items, however, chandeliers don't need to be cleaned too regularly (phew!).
You only have to clean a chandelier every six to 12 months, says Andrew Lea, a lighting pro who owns The Lamp Repair Store in Winter Park, Florida. "If you let it go too much longer than that, you’ll have to go crystal by crystal and dig in with your nails to get the dust out," he cautions.
It's a good thing you don't need to clean a chandelier too often, since the task requires a good amount of focus. Lea says that depending on the size and intricacy of your chandelier, cleaning it can be time-consuming, but the sparkling results are worth it!
What is the easiest way to clean a chandelier?
Chandelier cleaning may not be the easiest chore, but given the gorgeous results it provides, it's ultimately one of the most rewarding. Best of all, it only takes cleaning the lighting fixture once or twice a year to make it look like new. Lea details the 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Reach for a ladder or step stool
You may have heard that there's a way to take your chandelier down and clean it on a lower surface, but Lea doesn't recommend this. "I wouldn’t suggest anyone take it fully apart unless they know how to do electrical wiring," he says. "Generally speaking, you can get a pretty good job done just from the outside."
The best way to do chandelier cleaning is by moving around it, rather than moving the lamp around you. "You should avoid spinning the chandelier. That can twist the wiring," says Lea — this also increases the risk of the chandelier crashing to the ground.
Lea says using a ladder is the way to go — it will let you reach the chandelier, and is more supportive and stabilizing than standing on a chair (which means fewer aches and pains to boot). "You'll have to walk around it and set the ladder around the sides in order to work your way through," he says — if you can enlist a partner to help you, bonus, but if you're doing it alone, just take your time. He also recommends wearing shoes for extra support and comfort while you're standing tall.
Step 2: Spritz on some of *this* spray for the sparkly decorative parts
You might be tempted to reach for your usual cleaning spray of choice, but Lea warns that many of these products may hurt the metal parts of the chandelier or leave an unsightly film on the crystal or glass. He recommends Sparkle Plenty (Buy from Walmart, $21.96), a spray cleaner made specifically for chandeliers and collectibles. "It’s headache-free," he says, "You can pretty much spray it and let it drip-dry." Even better, it works for all kinds of chandeliers, whether or not they're pure crystal. He suggests using the spray bottle on the mist setting rather than the stream setting, and notes that while it's a bit more expensive than other cleaners, "A bottle generally lasts a good amount of time. It's not a one-use product, and it has a long shelf life."
When you're using the cleaner, make sure to cover the electrical parts of your chandelier, like the socket. "You don’t want liquid getting in there," he says. He adds that you should also turn off your house breaker to avoid any power issues.
Once the spray's been satisfactorily applied, Lea says you can simply use paper towels to wipe down the chandelier. "Once you get all the gunk off it, you just want to throw it out," and a paper towel is easier for this than a regular towel or a sponge.
Step 3: Enlist a duster for the metal structural parts
While Sparkle Plenty works beautifully for the ornamental parts of the chandelier, Lea says the best way to clean the canopy and chain (the round piece that covers the electrical box on the ceiling and the chain the chandelier hangs from) is with a simple feather duster. "Some people like to get into polishing the metal, but that involves taking every piece apart and polishing it separately," Lea says, so he thinks using Sparkle Plenty on the sparkly parts and a duster on the metal ones is the most accessible solution.
What *not* to use when chandelier cleaning
Thinking of whipping up a DIY cleaner to make your fixture dazzle? This may be a case where it's better to spend a little on the pre-made solution. "There’s a myth that you should use ammonia or vinegar to clean a chandelier," says Lea. "They can stain the metal and cloud the crystal, ruining your chandelier."
Find more home cleaning tips here!