Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Light Up Your Life: How To Clean A Chandelier

In my first rental apartment in New York, all the lighting fixtures were hideous eighties-era flourescents that gave off light that made everyone look green and made a disturbing buzzing sound when they were turned on (which was almost always, since we lived in what was essentially the basement). My roommates and I just lived with it for a while, but when we renewed the lease and decided to stay another year, I knew the ugly lighting had to go.  After some serious eBay trolling with my mom, I won an auction for a gorgeous sparkly six-bulb crystal chandelier for some insanely low price, and awaited it's arrival with bated breath. The first time JM, then in the Navy, got a weekend off and came to visit, I made him help me unpack and hang this thing, and all it's drippy, shiny jewelry in my teeny little bedroom. Once it was up, we took a step back to admire our work, and JM smiled wryly and said, "Razzle dazzle!" He was right, of course, it was way too much chandelier for my little room (this thing would have fit right in at Versailles) but I loved it immediately. And when we moved, we lovingly packed it up and hung it in our new bedroom. Which is all the say that chandeliers aren't just for Daddy Warbucks and wedding banquet halls- sometimes they are at their best in the most unexpected places- hanging over a tub in a bathroom, or from a tree over a picnic table, say.

But the problem with chandeliers is that they are magnets for dust and extremely daunting to clean when they get dirty (more like "ruzzle duzzle"). You can ignore it for a while, but during Spring Cleaning everything gets a bath. So here is the method I have developed in my many years as a chandelierophile for dusting and washing that crystal monster. It'll put the "shine" back in "chandelier".

1. Spread a soft blanket or towel on the area under the fixture. This will prevent your floor or furniture from getting nicked if you accidentally drop a crystal, and makes it more likely the crystal itself will survive the fall.

2. Pull out the diagram of how the crystals hang if one came with your fixture. If you don't have one, take a few digital photos of the chandelier to use as a guide later.

3.Carefully remove the crystals from the fixture. All chandeliers are different, but there are usually long swags of crystals hung between the arms, and then straight drops (called pendeloques) hanging from each bulb. Don't twist or turn the chandelier to reach the drops- instead, leave the fixture hanging as it is and move around it- twisting can compromise the connection to the ceiling and cause it to fall.

4. Soak the crystals in a mixture of warm water and gentle dish soap (I use Palmolive). Meanwhile, standing on a ladder if it helps, clean the base of the chandelier with a 1:1 mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle, gently wiping off any dust with a clean, non-linty rag (like an old soft t-shirt). Be very careful near any electrical wiring (getting it wet might create a short) and the lightbulbs (as they may be hot).

5. Use a clean, dry, non-linting rag to dry each crystal. Using the photographs as a guide, hang the crystals back on the fixture. Bask in the sparkly dazzling glow of your chandelier, and be glad that's done until next year.

photo credit: Curbed NY


Anonymous said...

Love your posts!!! You make everything seem fun and your pictures are fabulous. However, (and only because you seem like the type of person who would want to know) only food can be 'done'. You are 'finished' cleaning. :)

Lily said...

Touche, anonymous! You could not be more right. And if I'm going to dish it out, I better be able to take it! Thanks for the grammar lesson- my days of misusing that expression are, er, finished.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for not being offended... Only did it 'cause I love you. :)

Her Posh Palate... said...

I literally just hung a chandelier over our bathtub 2 weeks ago! Pics in my blog if you care to see!

Great post!

Lily said...

I checked it out- your bathroom chandelier looks great! Nice work, lady.