How To Clean Those Greasy Glass Shades on Your Kitchen’s Pendant Lights

updated Jun 3, 2019
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Credit: Cat Meschia/Kitchn

You know how sometimes you sit around and wonder what you can clean next? No? Ha, same. But sometimes you just can’t un-notice something that needs cleaning and then, well, you just have to do it. Case in point: those filthy pendant lights hanging in your kitchen.

Every time I sit at my kitchen counter I look at the light and think, I have got to clean that. It was so pretty and shiny when we hung the new fixture last fall after a kitchen renovation, but before long it showed signs of how much time we spend cooking. It’s not that far from the stove, as microspray from cooking goes, and dog hair and dust live everywhere in our house.

Those fine grease particles float through the air and land on the light, the hair and dust are drawn like magnets, and then we end up with a fixture well overdue for a thorough cleaning. Because this is a little more involved than just wiping off a table lamp, I wanted to get some expert guidance to share.

Melissa Maker, host of the Clean My Space YouTube channel and founder of housekeeping service Clean My Space, took time out of her cleaning schedule to share her tips. So if you are all done looking at your own grimy light, here’s your step-by-step guide to getting it looking like new.

Credit: Cat Meschia/Kitchn
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Turn off the light: This sounds obvious, but it's important, so we're making sure it's clear. Flip the switch to the off position. You don't have to kill the breaker switch but you should do this!

How To Clean the Glass Shades of Your Kitchen Pendant Lights

What You’ll Need

  • Large bath towel
  • Stepladder
  • Microfiber duster with extension pole (optional)
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol (optional)
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Q-tips
  • Pure eucalyptus oil


  1. Turn off the light: This sounds obvious, but it’s important, so we’re making sure it’s clear. Flip the switch to the off position. You don’t have to kill the breaker switch, but you should do this!
  2. Lay out a towel: This will catch any dust or particles flying around underneath and save you a little bit of cleaning.
  3. Remove the bulb(s): If the bulbs might be in the way at all, it’s a good idea to take them out. If your light was on even a bit ago, know that they could be hot. Be careful!
  4. Get a stepladder: Safety first! Don’t use a chair that you could damage or fall from.
  5. Start at the top: Work your way down. Start with the decorative plate that’s flush with the ceiling. (If you can’t reach it, use a microfiber duster with an extension pole.) Then, dust the cord/rope/chain and the very top of your pendant.
  6. Start wiping: Wipe the glass part of the shades with a microfiber cloth dampened with water, or vinegar. If the glass is still dirty, use rubbing alcohol with a paper towel and/or Q-tips to get into any crevices. Remember to get the exterior and the interior of shades.
  7. Do some spot treatment: For especially greasy spots, use a mixture of baking soda and dish soap. Apply it with a cloth and wipe off any residual. (You can also dab on pure eucalyptus oil mixed with rubbing alcohol. Leave it on for a few minutes, then polish it off.) Then, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down any other parts of the fixture.
  8. Replace the bulb(s): When everything is completely dry, replace the bulbs.

How often should you be doing this? It’s really an as-needed thing, Maker says, so just give it a critical eye once in a while. “For me I’m not an aggressive need-to-clean-all-the-time person so even if you do it two times a year you’re ahead of the game,” she adds. It may only be a few minutes of work, and nothing to stress over, she says, but that schedule sounds good to me.