How to dust and clean a chandelier without breaking it – 3 tips from professionals

Learn how to dust and clean a chandelier without breaking it, according to professional cleaners.

Three images of statement chandeliers
(Image credit: Future / Jan Baldwin / Tom Leighton / David Lovatti)

Nothing quite puts the finishing touch to a decorating scheme like a chandelier. It's so much more than just a lighting device: it's a design statement that can completely transform any room in your home, though it's especially effective in large living rooms and dining rooms.

However, if you have a chandelier in your home, you will know that they are notoriously difficult to clean. Chandeliers have elaborate designs, often with multiple branches and hanging elements, and they are high up, unlike other lights. You have to approach cleaning and dusting a chandelier in a different way from other items in your home. Otherwise, you could end up with a chandelier that is still dirty or even one that's broken.

We've sought the advice of professional cleaners. Here's what they recommend for getting your chandelier looking like new again.

How to dust and clean a chandelier

The most important decision you'll have to make when dusting and cleaning a chandelier is whether the chandelier will be staying up or coming down. There are several factors to consider here, including:

  • How much cleaning the chandelier needs: if your chandelier is relatively new, you'll probably get away with just dusting and cleaning it while it's up. However, as professional cleaner, Delah Gomasi points out, 'If your chandelier has never been cleaned, or it's been some time since you've cleaned it, you'll always need to take it down and clean each piece.'
  • How high up the chandelier is: Obviously, the higher up yours is, the harder it will be to reach for cleaning. Although you can try dusters with telescopic handles and use a sturdy stepladder to help you, this won't always be the safest option.
  • How much time you have: There are several methods for cleaning a chandelier (see below): some of them are much more time-consuming than others. You'll have to decide whether you can set aside sufficient time for a deep clean, which will involve dismantling it. If you don't, it's still better to attempt a light dusting/clean rather than leaving it. The longer you leave between cleaning, the more work you'll have to do each time.

1. Use the no-dismantle method

Open plan living and dining room with natural light with a roof lantern, wooden floor, rug, sofas and chairs and chandelier, and a view to the garden.

(Image credit: Hasselblad H6D / Future)

This method will be suitable for chandeliers that are relatively clean to begin with, and that don't have small, hanging pieces that could fall off during the clean. Karina Toner, Operations Manager at professional cleaning company Spekless, says you'll need the following cleaning supplies for cleaning a chandelier this way:

  • A sturdy stepladder: Karina recommends getting a ladder ''with a stable base to safely reach all parts for cleaning''.
  • A cleaning solution: You don't need anything special here; ''a solution of warm water and a mild, non-abrasive dish soap'' will be suitable ''for most chandelier materials.''
  • Microfiber Cleaning Cloth (such as these from Amazon): These cloths are soft and lint-free, ideal for delicate surfaces.
  • Wright's Copper and Brass Cream Cleaner from Amazon: 'This polish effectively removes tarnish and restores shine without scratching', says Karina.

You now have everything you need to clean your chandelier. Now follow these steps:

1. Turn Off the Power

Safety first! Always, always make sure the chandelier is turned off and the bulbs are cool to the touch. By turned off we mean ideally unplug the chandelier completely.

2. Prepare the cleaning solution

Mix the warm water and dish soap in a bucket or bowl.

3. Remove dust and debris

Use a soft, lint-free cloth or a duster to gently remove dust and cobwebs from the chandelier. 'Start from the top and work your way down', advises Karina. A cloth will always give you a more thorough clean than a duster, but if you really cannot reach every piece even while standing on a stepladder, a good-quality lambswool duster is a suitable tool.

4. Clean crystals or glass pendants

To clean crystal or glass parts, 'dampen a microfiber cloth with the cleaning solution. Wipe each crystal or pendant carefully to remove fingerprints and grime.'

5. Clean metal or brass parts

To clean metal or brass components, dampen a cloth with the cleaning solution and gently wipe to remove dust and smudges.

6. Dry with a soft cloth

After cleaning, use a dry microfiber cloth to gently buff and polish the crystals or glass. This step adds shine and removes any remaining streaks.

7. Inspect and adjust

Inspect the chandelier for any missed spots or stubborn dirt. Repeat cleaning steps as necessary until the chandelier sparkles.

8. Dry thoroughly

Ensure the chandelier is completely dry before turning the power back on. Any residual moisture could pose a risk when the chandelier is in use.

2. Dismantle the chandelier for a thorough clean

ways with Down Pipe, blue dining room with oval table, tan dining chairs, vintage rug, sideboard, artwork, large chandelier, mirror

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

If your spectacular living room chandelier needs a deep clean, or it has a very complex design with fragile hanging pieces, you will need to take it down for cleaning. Founder of Muffeta's Housekeeping Muffeta Krueger recommends the following steps to deep clean a chandelier:

1. Take photos: Before disassembling, take detailed photos of the chandelier. This will help you reassemble it correctly.

2. Disassemble carefully: Remove crystals and other detachable parts, keeping them organized and labeled.

3. Soak the Crystals: Place the crystals in a solution of warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Let them soak for a few minutes.

4. Rinse and Dry: Rinse the crystals with distilled water to prevent water spots and dry them with a lint-free cloth. Avoid drying glass pieces in the sun as they could get damaged.

If your chandelier is truly grimy and soaking just isn't doing the trick, Director of MaidForYou Delah Gomasi says you can try a deep clean with the help of your dishwasher. You would follow all the same disassembly steps, but then you would put all the pieces ''n a dishwasher-safe container, and run them on the gentle cycle for at least 30 minutes. Make sure that the only thing in the dishwasher when cleaning the chandelier is the chandelier and the dishwasher-safe container.'

You can then use the drying setting, but you'll need to keep it low and keep the dishwasher on 'for another 4-5 hours and put it back together.' However, Delah cautions that 'this method can be tedious, so it's not ideal. If it's not done correctly, you also risk damaging the chandelier.'

Washing by hand is the safest option, but the dishwasher trick can be worth it for chandeliers that are a bit less delicate but are very dirty.

3. Try the ''drip dry'' method for a regular clean

If both of the above methods sound like a lot of work, you can try what Delah refers to as the ''drip dry'' method. It's less hands-on than the other methods and can save you time. Delah explains that this method 'basically involves spraying a mild window cleaning solution onto the chandelier and letting it drip dry. Then you wipe it down with a soft cloth.'

No deisassembling, no excessive scrubbing or dusting. Delah only recommends this method 'for regular cleaning of the chandelier. We don't recommend this method for chandeliers that have never been cleaned or have not been cleaned in a long time.'


Blue and green devol kitchen with a chandelier

(Image credit: deVOL)

How often should you clean a chandelier?

Karina recommends cleaning a chandelier at least once every few months to maintain its beauty and prevent buildup. She emphasizes that regular cleaning 'ensures that your chandelier not only enhances your decor but also stays in top condition for years to come.'

Put simply, if you're leaving it years between cleaning your chandelier, you need to clean it more regularly.

What should you never use to clean a chandelier?

Karina advises avoiding 'ammonia-based cleaners or abrasive materials, as these can damage delicate crystals or metal finishes.' Bleach and other industrial-strength cleaners are also a big no-no.

If your chandelier is delicate and expensive, it's even a bad idea to use all-purpose cleaning sprays. Just stick with mild soap and water. It's all you need to get your chandelier sparkling again.

A statement chandelier can elevate the appearance of a room when selected carefully. However, Feng Shui experts warn against having a chandelier in your entryway.

Anna K. Cottrell is now a freelance writer, having previously been a Content Editor for Future's homes titles. She writes about interior design, property, and gardening. On H&G, she specialized in writing about property – buying, selling, renting – sustainability and eco issues.