Crystal clear guide to cleaning chandeliers

Any home owner who's spent thousands of dollars on an elegant chandelier needs to know about keeping crystals clear. You can buy the finest crystal in the world, but if it gets dirty, it’s indistinguishable from cheap crystal. A chandelier should be cleaned when it looks dirty, milky or cloudy. But if you maintain it regularly a couple of times a year, you probably won't have to remove all the crystals to wash them by hand.

Crystal clear guide to cleaning chandeliers

1. If a chandelier is not too dirty

Set up a stepladder in one or two spots where you can easily reach the chandelier without stretching and use one of these two methods to clean the crystals:

  • The simplest way is to lightly dampen a chamois cloth with water and wipe each crystal while it's still attached to the chandelier frame. To clean the chandelier frame itself, just wipe it thoroughly with a dry cloth.
  • Using two gloves is also a popular cleaning trick. Buy a pair of white cotton gloves (from a home improvement store or supermarket), and slightly dampen one glove with a glass cleaner. Spray the cleaner onto the glove and never onto the chandelier, since a spray cleaner will eventually work its way into any tiny nicks or scratches in the frame finish, which can cause corrosion and ruin the frame. Massage each crystal with the damp glove, then wipe it immediately with the dry glove.

2. If a chandelier is really dirty

  • You will have to take down the crystals and wash them by hand.
  • Start by climbing your stepladder and removing the bulbs and setting them aside.
  • Then carefully remove the crystals.
  • Run warm water into a large pot or sink until it's about a quarter full.
  • Add 1 capful of white vinegar and 1 drop of dishwashing liquid. The combination will remove any grease or residue on the glass but will minimise the suds created, which are hard to rinse off.
  • Place a folded towel in the bottom of the pot or sink.
  • Wipe each crystal with your hands, then individually rinse each one under running water and dry with a soft cloth. If you don't dry them you'll have water spots, which will reduce the sparkle.
  • Finally, wipe the light bulbs with a damp sponge, dry them with a cloth, return them to their sockets — and enjoy the light show.

3. A crystal puzzle

  • Before you start removing any dusty chandelier crystals for hand washing, make absolutely sure you know how to put the chandelier back together again.
  • You can either clean a small section at a time or track down the diagram that came with the chandelier.
  • If the diagram is long lost, take a photo of the intact chandelier or do a drawing before you start to disassemble.
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