How to clean light sources in the home

How to clean light sources in the home

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night to the nightmare that the dust and grime on your light bulbs came alive because it’s been so long since you’ve cleaned them? Have you ever noticed how your blinds scream when you try to open them because so much dust has landed on them?

Honestly, cleaning my lightbulbs has never kept me up at night and I choose not to notice the dust bunnies that may or may not collect on my blinds. And since we’re being honest, I can’t remember the last time I thought about cleaning any light source in my house.

So I’m sure a lot of you are like me. Your light bulbs, blinds and even battery operated fancy candles are not on your list of things to clean but should they be? The answer is yes! By not cleaning your light sources, whatever they may be, you are getting less output from them and thus possibly shortening their useful life. I know, it’s just a source of light, right? Trust me. Once you clean them, you’ll be glad you did.

Let’s look at a number of different light sources around your house and the best way to clean them for optimal light.

Light bulbs

Everyone has a light bulb. Whether it’s a new fancy swirl type bulb, an old fashion bulb or a LED bulb, they really do work at their best when clean. And, they are so easy to clean you should consider cleaning them more often.

Start by making sure the light is turned off and cool to the touch. Use a microfiber cloth if you have one. They are great at capturing dust. If you don’t have one, run a paper towel under cool water, wring it out and gently wipe over the top of the bulb. This will also collect dust. Do not attempt to clean the part of the bulb that attaches to your lamp. If a microfiber cloth or damp paper towel don’t work, I suggest replacing the light. The bulbs are so fragile that you could easily break the bulb by trying to clean it further.

Fluorescent lights

Fluorescent lights can be found in any room of the house, namely the kitchen, garage and basement. These lights can seem a chore to clean but they are actually easy.

First, turn the light off. Disconnect the light cover. Use this opportunity to clean the inside and outside of the cover.

Next, vacuum the lights and light area with a hand held vacuum if one is available once the light bulbs are cool. (I suggest leaving the light bulbs in so extra dust doesn’t make its way into the light sockets). If not, use a clean microfiber cloth or a damp paper towel to remove dust. From there, remove the lights and take another pass at removing the dust. Once they are clean, they are ready to install. If there are stubborn stains, consider replacing the bulb since you’ve already taken off the light cover.


Windows have to be the easiest yet most overlooked source of light that need to be cleaned at least twice a year, if not more. A good once over twice a year sounds like a lot of effort but it’s worth it.

If you have screens on your windows, take them off and give them a good scrub with a little dish soap, water and a stiff brush. Let them dry. Next, and this is by preference, either get a roll of paper towels or a stack of newspapers along with cleaning solution. Again, this is by preference. Some swear by mixing white distilled vinegar and water while others think the blue stuff in a bottle works great. You pick.

Give the inside and outside a good dousing and let the liquid sit for a minute or so to run down the window. Make sure you wipe it up before it dries. If you don’t get the level of cleanliness you desire, repeat the process. A little elbow grease is always good!

Lamp shades

This is another item in the house that is very often overlooked when it’s time to clean. My tried and true hack is to use a lint brush with throw away sheets. It’s so easy to roll it down the shade and toss the tape sheet in the trash when it’s dirty.

Another way to clean a lamp shade is with a microfiber cloth. Again, it does a great job at trapping dust. You could even do this outside if you worry the dust won’t stick to the cloth.


I am guilty of always looking the other way when it comes to cleaning blinds. I dislike cleaning them but they do collect a very large amount of dust.

For vinyl or metal mini blinds, I suggest setting them at their longest length, open them up so you can see through the slats and remove them from the window itself. If you have a bathtub, gently spray water on them. Start at the top and work your way down. If not, take them outside. Again, start at the top with water. It’s best to have two people on this job or consider using a towel rack already in the shower or a ladder outside. Let them dry for 4 or 5 hours.

For wood blinds, I suggest taking one of your socks that has lost its mate and get it wet. Wring it out. Take each blind in-between your thumb and fingers (think about if you were to show someone how to quack like a duck with your hands). For really dirty blinds, rinse the sock often.

For vertical blinds with fabric, I suggest taking a lint roller to them. For vinyl vertical blinds, you can run a damp paper towel or microfiber cloth along each side to trap the dust.

Battery operated lights

With the holidays just wrapping up, I noticed a few of my friends had battery operated candles as a source of light. They had many of them, with timers in fact, displayed around their living rooms. They look like real candles and even feel somewhat waxy to the touch. My friend told me she dampens a paper towel, rings it out and runs it lightly over the entire candle. If your candle has a fake flame, take extra caution when running your cloth over it as the candles I saw were very delicate.

I hope I’ve given you a number of light sources to think about that just might benefit from a good cleaning. It’s another ‘chore’ to add to your list but you will be amazed at the results.

Amanda Pokorny is a writer for is a group of friends passionate about having a beautiful tidy living home and sharing fun stories about house cleaning.