A chandelier makes a grand focal point for any room. To keep a chandelier shining its brightest, it’s a good idea to give it a good cleaning once a year or so. Crystal chandeliers need cleaning when the crystal appears dull. More contemporary chandelier designs should be cleaned when the glass or frame begins to look dusty.
Many chandeliers have a rather complex hanging pattern for the crystal or glass accents, so always make note of how your design goes together before you begin cleaning. It's a good idea to make a quick drawing or diagram of where all the parts go. A snapshot from a digital camera might also prove useful. Another idea is to clean the piece in small, manageable sections. If your fixture is hung too high or is too elaborate a design, you might have to call in a professional cleaning service to handle the job. However, most chandeliers can be handled by the weekend do-it-yourselfer.
The supplies required to clean a chandelier are pretty basic. You’ll need a step ladder to reach the fixture, plus pads or a drop cloth to go underneath. This padding will help prevent any glass or crystal prism breakage should you drop something, and they’ll also help shield delicate furniture and tabletops. White gloves or soft, lint free cloths are recommended, especially when cleaning crystal, which easily picks up fingerprints.
Extreme care must be taken around any electrical fixture, so work slowly and follow basic, common-sense safety precautions. To get set-up, begin by turning off the chandelier's power at the wall switch. It’s a smart idea to place a piece of tape over the wall switch to prevent the fixture from inadvertently being turned on while you're working. To be completely safe you can turn off the power at the breaker box. But remember to set up alternative lighting nearby, otherwise you’ll be working in the dark!
There are two schools of thought when it comes to cleaning a chandelier; the 'crystal or glass on' and the 'crystal or glass off' methods. Taking all crystal and glass off is a more complete cleaning process, allowing you to completely reach each nook and cranny of the frame. If your chandelier doesn’t require it, though, leaving the crystal or glass on is a much faster process.
A few things to keep in mind when starting out. No matter which method you choose, never twirl or rotate your crystal chandelier. When cleaning, walk or move your ladder around the chandelier and clean in sections. By rotating a chandelier, you risk loosening its support, which could cause the chandelier or its crystals to fall. If the chandelier is difficult to reach, it's a good idea to change out all of the bulbs when you are cleaning. Never exceed the recommended wattage for the fixture and check to see that the lights work before packing away your ladder.
To clean a chandelier with the glass or crystal on, prepare a cleaning solution of one part isopropyl alcohol to four parts distilled water in a spray bottle. Spray a small amount of the solution on a white cotton glove or lint free cloth. Wipe the crystal or glass with the damp cloth, and then dry it immediately with another glove or cloth. Work slowly and carefully to avoid damaging any of the hanging glass or ornaments.
When in doubt, completely removing the glass or crystal is a safer bet. This method also allows you greater access to the chandelier frame. You can use the same solution as outlined above for cleaning. For chandeliers with more dirt and grime build-up, you can also try hand-washing the glass in lukewarm sudsy water, using a mild dish soap. For this method, rinse immediately in clean water and dry with a soft clean cloth. To stretch the time between cleanings, dust your chandelier lightly every two or three months with a feather duster or lambs wool duster.
Follow these directions and your chandelier will have that special sparkle all year long!