Cleaning a Crystal Chandelier

A Crystal Chandelier Hanging from Ceiling.

How to Properly Clean Your Crystal Chandelier

I’ve received compliments on how beautiful my crystal chandelier is and people have asked me what my secret is.

Let me tell you: there is no secret.

The only thing I am guilty of is cleaning my chandelier regularly-and you can tell because of how brilliantly light is reflected off of the crystals.

After all, there isn’t anything more beautiful than a sparkling, clean, crystal chandelier.

Even my cats appreciate the how often I clean the chandelier because its prismatic effect is multiplied when there’s no dirt, dust or grime on the crystals, which basically means more rainbow lights for my kitties to pounce and chase around the room. And if my kitties are happy then I am happy too.

Neglecting the crystals can make your chandelier look dingy and improper cleaning can actually ruin the crystals and the frame.

So, if you are the owner of an authentic crystal chandelier – or you opted for something a little less expensive – it is important to know the proper cleaning methods so you can keep it looking beautiful and elegant for years to come.

Cleaning Guidelines and Precautions

The most important thing to remember when you are cleaning your chandelier is to treat it gently! Crystals can be scratched and damaged easily if not handled properly and the chandelier frame can be ruined if you aren’t careful.

Here are some basic guidelines to follow when cleaning your chandelier:

  • Turn the light off before you remove light bulbs and crystals.
  • Always use soft, cotton cloths. Paper towels and disposable dusting cloths can scratch crystal.
  • Never spray cleaner directly on the chandelier – you can damage the finish of the frame and leave marks on the crystal.
  • I do NOT recommendthat you put chandelier crystals in the dishwasher on the top shelf. This is NOT safe, and you should never try it for two reasons;
    1. Dish washing detergent is destructive to crystal and will cause etching as well as pitting
    2. Strong jets of water will send delicate crystals flying, causing irreparable damage.
  • If you are prone to getting dizzy or lightheaded, you should invest in inexpensive, collapsible scaffolding. It’s safer than a ladder and doesn’t take up much storage space in your garage or shed.
  • When in doubt, take several pictures with a digital camera from different angles before you start taking apart an intricate chandelier. Never use stickers or markers to mark pieces.

Cleaning Frequency

A rule of thumb is to clean your chandelier every 12 months.

An exception is if your chandelier is near the kitchen, as it can get greasy and will need to be cleaned more often. Entryway chandeliers near tend to need more frequent cleaning, as well.

If your chandelier doesn’t reflect light as well as you think it should, or the crystals appear dusty, milky and spotted…then it’s time to start cleaning!

Steps for Cleaning your Crystal Chandelier

If your chandelier has been neglected, you should start with a complete cleaning where you take down the crystals (see below).

Otherwise, you’ll need a step stool or ladder that will allow comfortable access to all crystals.

  1. First, turn off the light, take out any light bulbs and then set them aside.
  2. Climb up the ladder or step stool and have a bottle of glass cleaner and a pair of soft, cotton gloves handy. I wear an apron when cleaning my chandelier because I can put all my supplies in the pockets for easy to access.
  3. Spray the glass cleaner on one of your gloves (not the chandelier).
  4. Then, starting from the top and working your way to the bottom, carefully wipe each crystal with the sprayed glove and then immediately dry the crystal with your clean glove. The idea is to keep one glove lightly sprayed and the other one dry. It’s a good idea to have more than one pair handy if you have a lot of crystals.
  5. Clean the frame and metal links only with a dry glove. Cleaning solutions can strip the finish.
  6. Once you’re done with the frame, wipe down the light bulbs with a slightly damp cloth or replace them.
  7. Turn on the lights and enjoy your chandelier’s crystal clean shine!

Heavy Duty Cleaning

If you clean your chandelier often enough, you shouldn’t have to take it completely apart. It can be a big job, but the reward is that you won’t have to do it again for a very, very long time (if ever).

Take Pictures So You Can Put it All Back Together

Whether your chandelier is comprised of long strands of crystals or has individual hanging crystals, your first step is to know how it all fits together.

Newer chandeliers come with diagrams that show you how to put the pieces back together.

If you don’t have a diagram (or you’re not good at reading them), your first task is to grab your digital camera and take several pictures at different angles and levels.

Be sure to get pictures that are close up and far away.

Remove Light Bulbs and Hanging Crystals

You need to prepare a place to set the crystals and light bulbs before you remove them.

Cotton t-shirts, towels or sheets put inside a bucket work well to hold fragile glass as you take the chandelier apart.

Once you have removed the light bulbs and hanging crystals, carefully place them inside of the bucket under different layers so they won’t get damaged.

Wash and Dry the Crystals

It is important to hand wash the crystals, but, if you put them directly into your sink, you will scratch them.

You’ll need a soft surface to line your sink. I recommend using either a soft, padded sink liner or an old, folded towel.

  1. Fill the sink 1/2 way with warm water.
  2. Pour a splash of distilled white vinegar and a drop of dish soap into the sink.
  3. Place a few crystals on the bottom of the sink. Allow space between the crystals (do NOT dump them all in at once), and be careful not to clink the crystals together.
  4. With your hands (a sponge or brush isn’t necessary or recommended), wipe off each crystal.
  5. Individually rinse each crystal under clean water.
  6. Immediately after rinsing, dry each crystal with a soft, cotton cloth or towel (chamois works great).
  7. Set the dry crystals on a dry, folded towel.
  8. When you’re done, use your diagram or photos to replace the crystals.
It is important to note that, if you do not dry the crystals immediately after rinsing, you risk ugly water spots forming- which in some cases can be far worse than a dusty crystals.

A Job Well Done!

The hard work is over – at least for the next 12 months – so now it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy the elegance of your sparkling clean light fixture. Or, if you’re in more of a playful mood, perhaps you can chase after the rainbow lights with your kitties.

No matter what you choose to do, it is definitely a job well done.