How to clean every type of light fitting

Cleaning light fixtures is one of those chores that you don’t think will make much of a difference to the house until you actually do it. Not only do they provide light, but they also set the mood for a room. You’re not going to be letting the optimal amount of light in if they’re dull and grimy. So, it’s important to keep them clean, both for aesthetics and for functionality.

Read: Easy ways to improve the lighting in your home

Here are some tips on how to clean your light fixtures, whether it’s a quick once-over or a deep clean.

Dust them frequently

Light fixtures seem to be magnets for dust and dirt but a weekly once over with a duster should prevent them from getting too grimy. An extendable duster can be perfect for this job. Not only can you keep your feet firmly on the ground, but the fuzzy head is great at trapping the dust rather than just sweeping it off onto the floor.

A step ladder and a dry microfibre cloth can do the job just as well, just be sure you have someone to hold the ladder steady if you have to reach up high.

Deep clean occasionally

A weekly dusting of your ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, and recessed lighting is important, but it’s just as important to give them a deep cleaning once or twice a year.

Here’s how to deep clean some specific types of light fixtures and fittings.

Wipe dirty bulbs

If your light bulbs are looking a little dull, simply remove the bulbs (ensuring they are cool) and wipe them over with a dry microfiber cloth. If they have a build-up of dust and dirt, dampen the cloth and use some elbow grease. It may be best to do this over a counter with a towel placed underneath your hands in case you drop the bulbs.

Let the bulbs dry completely before replacing them, especially if you have touched the electrical contact with the cloth.

Wash glass covers

To clean glass light fixtures such as dome lights or glass pendant lights, fully removing the glass cover is the most effective way. Support the glass with your hands and remove any screws or clamps holding it in place. Once it’s removed, remove any large pieces of dirt or bugs and place it in a bucket or sink full of warm, soapy water. Let it soak for a few minutes then use a sponge or cloth to wipe away any remaining grime. Ensure you dry it completely with a clean towel before replacing it.

If needed, clean the bulbs themselves following the guidelines above, then replace the glass with the screws or clamps.

Avoid washing the glass in a dishwasher, the glass is likely more brittle than you think and the powerful jets could shatter it.

If you can’t remove the glass or if the outside just needs a wipe, spray the cleaning solution onto a cleaning cloth first, rather than directly onto the fixture.

Read: Thirty-day deep cleaning challenge

Recessed lights

Recessed and canned lights are typically easy to clean. To wipe down the inside of each fixture, carefully remove the cool lightbulb and use a dry microfibre cloth to wipe around the sides while avoiding the light socket. 

If there is stubborn dirt, dampen your microfibre cloth with water or a water and vinegar solution, wipe, and then allow the surface to dry completely before replacing the bulb. 


If you have a small chandelier, especially one with dangling crystals or other features, it will be far easier to clean it piece by piece at your table or on your floor, rather than trying to clean it in place from on top of a ladder. Before removing anything though, take a few photos with your phone so you have a reference to look at when it’s time to put it back together.

To clean your chandelier pieces, mix one part vinegar with three parts warm water to create a diluted vinegar cleaning solution. Dampen a clean microfibre cloth with the solution, then use it to gently clean each piece. Once each piece is clean, use a clean cloth to dry it, and keep it safe until you’re ready to reassemble the chandelier.

Fabric or paper lamp shades

A quick once over with a lint roller can make cleaning fabric or paper lamp shades easy. If they’re a little too dusty, vacuum them gently using a soft upholstery attachment. Check to see if the bulb and the stem need to be wiped down and use your microfibre cloth.

Ceiling fans

Clean your ceiling fans by removing the globes and soaking them in soapy water while you wipe down the bulbs and fixtures. Carefully clean and dry the globes. Wipe the tops of the blades with a soft cloth or duster to remove any dirt. Make sure you don’t try to use the blades to keep yourself steady while on the ladder, though. They can move suddenly, which can lead to falls.

Pendant lights

You can clean most pendant lights in place. After wiping the bulbs down, use the damp cloth to clean the globes, cables and extension rods. If you have intricate fixtures, you may need to remove the globes and soak them in warm, soapy water.

Read: Seven cleaning tips that will change your life

What to remember

Be careful if using a ladder. Ideally have someone there to spot you just in case.

Light bulbs that have been in place for a long time can sometimes stick when you try to remove them. If a bulb feels stuck, put on a pair of heavy gloves or use a cloth to grasp the bulb before trying again.

To avoid getting burnt, be sure the light you want to clean has been turned off for at least one hour before attempting to clean any part of it.

Remember that you are working around electricity – make sure everything is completely dry before you flip the lights back on.

Easily accomplished in an afternoon, this little project will brighten your home and your mood once it’s done.

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Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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