How Do You Clean Vintage Lamps?


Adding vintage lamps to your space introduces charm and ambiance and can benefit every vintage décor in your home. The lamps introduce an element of coziness to your space, light up your rooms and complement the aesthetic appeal of your room.

You can enjoy the benefits of the lamps for an extended period when you clean and take care of them well. You clean vintage lamps and take care of them by doing the following:

  1. Put together all the things you will need
  2. Unplug the lamp
  3. Remove dust from the lamp
  4. Disassemble the lamp
  5. Clean the base
  6. Clean the lampshade
  7. Clean the electrical parts
  8. Polish
  9. Reassemble and plug it back

Most vintage lamps, such as Tiffany lamps, have existed for more than 100 years, and you cannot always count on their as-is condition. Your lamp might only need a little cleaning and maintenance to restore it to its initial condition. The rest of this article explores the steps of cleaning your vintage lamp.

Put Together All the Things You Need

Before you start cleaning your vintage lamp, it is best to gather all your supplies. You need to put together lint-free clothes, warm water, mild dish soap, glass cleaner, cotton swabs, a small brush, metal polish, and a screwdriver if necessary.

You may need specific cleaners for your lamp depending on the material it is made of. For example, if your Tiffany table lamp is made of metal, it is best to use a transparent wax polish to restore it to a mint condition.

Unplug the Lamp

Your safety should be your top priority. Therefore, ensure your lamp is unplugged from the socket and cool it down before you start the cleaning process. Unplugging the lamp from the socket reduces any possibility of an electric shock and accidents.

Remove Dust from the Lamp

After unplugging your vintage lamp from the socket, give it a once-over to remove any dust, hair, or dander.

Dust it from the top down and start with the shade before dusting the base. This is because dust travels downwards and settles at the base of your lamp.

You can dust your lamp using any of the following;

  • Duster
  • Sticky roller
  • Soft paintbrush
  • Hair dryer
  • Soft upholstery brush


This step is necessary only if you want to clean your Tiffany lamp's inside but cannot access the inner parts. Sometimes, you only need to partially disassemble your lamp for extensive cleaning.

Your lamp is like a puzzle, and if you choose to disassemble, document the parts as you go so that you can reassemble your lamp correctly later on. Remove bulbs, unscrew any screws, and undo the bolts to separate the different parts.

Be careful not to misplace any part; take good care of the fragile parts so they do not break.

Clean the Base

If your Tiffany lamp base is made of metal such as the one shown below, use mild soap and warm water to clean it.


Tiffany lamp base

Do not use abrasive cleaners because they can harm the appearance and finish of your lamp. Scrub the surface of the base gently and use a soft toothbrush or cotton swabs to clean the crevices.

Once you are done, rinse the base with clean water. Rinse it thoroughly and wash off all the soap so it does not discolor the metal in the long run. Then pat the surface using a soft cloth to dry it.  

Clean the Lampshade

If your Tiffany lampshade is made of stained glass, as shown below, it is best to use glass cleaner to clean it.

 Tiffany lampshade

Spray the cleaner on a soft cloth instead of spraying it directly into the glass. This will help prevent any liquid from flowing into the lamp's electrical parts.

Wipe the stained glass gently to remove smudges and dirt. If your vintage lamp is made of fabric shade, do not use water because it can damage the material.

Instead, clean it by dusting or vacuuming the surface to remove debris and dirt. Alternatively, you can clean the shade of your Tiffany ceiling lamp by wiping it using a soft cloth and a lemon oil-based polish.

It is best not to use any product that contains ammonia because ammonia adversely affects the solder used in joining the stained-glass pieces.

When ammonia comes into contact with the solder, the solder oxidizes, leaving behind a discolored white film. Use a thin coat of lemon oil on the solder to prevent oxidation of the solder.  

If your Tiffany lamp is made of beveled glass, use a soft cloth and a mild soapy water solution. Ensure you rinse the shade well using a clean cloth dipped in clean water.

Clean the Electrical Parts

Wipe down the sockets and other electrical components of your lamp with a dry cloth to remove dust. If there is any damage to any electrical element of the lamp, consult an expert for repairs.


If your vintage lamp has parts that need polishing, use an appropriate polish for the specific type of metal. For example, use brass polish for parts of your lamp made of brass.

Polishing helps to restore the shine on your Tiffany lamp. It is best to use the appropriate polishing compound to buff any scratches and restore its shine.

Reassemble and Plug It Back

In case you disassembled the lamp, carefully reassemble it. Refer to the document to ensure you put all the pieces back correctly. Be careful not to damage the metal parts or glass, and tightly fix the bolts and screws.

After reassembling the different parts of your lamp, plug it back in to confirm if it is working correctly. Test the switch to ensure the electrical parts are functioning properly.


Cleaning vintage lamps is a true labor of love that helps restore its beauty and rich history. While undertaking the process, prioritize your safety and consult an expert if you have any doubts.  

Routine cleaning of your lamp will keep it looking at its best. Using the right products and methods will ensure your vintage lamp continually graces your space with beauty and utmost magnificence.

Related reading: How to install floor lamp tiffany style, and how to maintain them

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