You just never know where you’re wasting energy. And the one place we don’t really think about is dirty light bulbs and fixtures. Having clean lighting not only can save energy and brighten your home, but is also a point to focus on when staging a home for sale. Granted, cleaning light fixtures is a hassle that requires a stepladder and a steady hand. But it’s a necessary spring-cleaning chore that freshens your home and gives you the light you’re paying for. And you don’t need to wait for spring to clean them. Winter is a perfect time to clean fixtures as well. Dirty bulbs shed 30% less light than clean ones, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Add a dusty, dead-bug riddled cover, and you’ve got an automatic dimmer, whether you want one or not.
Light bulbs have much longer lifespans than they used to, thanks to LED and CFL technology. So obviously they’ll get dirtier and need cleaning from time to time.
Wipe bulbs with a dry cloth, not wet. Water can get into crevices and damage electronics. Also, don’t spray cleaning solutions directly onto the light bulb, which could damage the bulb. Turn off the electricity to the fixture before messing with the bulbs.
Bugs and ceiling fixtures go together like PB&J and is just as messy (and far less tasty). Remove fixtures and soak in a sink with soapy water. Dry and shine with a microfiber cloth.
Don’t put glass fixtures in the dishwasher. The glass is not designed to be dishwasher safe and can damage both the fixture and the dishwasher.
Dust with a long-handle duster, such as a Swiffer, that traps dust and cobwebs. For a more thorough cleaning, wipe the insides of canisters and the bulbs with a microfiber cloth or a slightly damp rag.
Before cleaning, make sure the electricity is off and the bulb is cool.
Dust the lights on ceiling fans when you clean the fan blades. When a bulb goes out and you have to climb a ladder anyway, clean globes and bulbs with a microfiber cloth. If the globes are really dirty, take them down and clean with soapy water or a cleaning solution.
When removing or returning globes or bulbs, be sure not to steady yourself by grabbing fan blades, which will turn if touched.
Tricks of the Trade
1. Dryer sheets are low-cost alternatives to microfiber clothes. They’re great for dusting bulbs.
2. Wear goggles when dusting or spritzing overhead fixtures to prevent dust or cleaning solution from hurting your eyes.
3. If you’re having trouble removing the bulb in a recessed light, cut a 12-inch strip of duct tape, and fold it over the bulb so that the ends act like handles that are easier to grip than the glass.