How to Clean Lights and Shades

6 bright ideas for shedding more light on the subject

Dirty light bulbs can give off up to 20 percent less light than clean ones, so regular cleaning and dusting go a long way toward brightening our living spaces. Check out these effective ways to clean light fixtures, lampshades and bulbs.

1. To clean lampshades made of paper, fabric or fine silks, use a lamb’s-wool duster instead of a rag. It will attract dirt and won’t leave a residue the way a rag might. For deeply embellished shades, use the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner.

2. Clean glass shades by dipping them in a plastic tub filled with soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and drain on puppy-training pads, which are plastic on one side and absorbent material on the other.

3. To clean bulbs, which can become quite dusty, simply wipe them off with a soft cloth.

4. Clean fluorescent tubes by wiping them thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth.

5. Clean recessed can lights with a damp cloth.

6. To clean a glass chandelier, you’ll need goggles, a lamb’s-wool duster, an umbrella and a spray bottle of a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar. Dust first, and then hang the umbrella under the chandelier, hooking the handle over an arm of the light fixture. Spray the crystals with the vinegar solution until they drip. The umbrella will catch the dirty water.

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