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How to Clean and Care For Stained Glass Windows and Art

a bucket of cleaning supplies

Stained glass windows are a unique and gorgeous art form that has been around for thousands of years. But as beautiful as they can be hanging in your home, cleaning them is different from cleaning a regular window.

The surface of stained glass is often filled with texture that, unlike regular glass, can trap and hold dirt. And if your window or art piece has a leaded framework, it may also trap moisture produced by using a cleaning spray, which will ultimately cause the lead to deteriorate.

Knowing the proper cleaning techniques will keep your stained glass sparkling and free from damage. And just like cleaning regular windows, routine maintenance will help to avoid dirt accumulation and make cleaning easier to accomplish.

Here are some tips to make sure your stained glass windows and art stay as beautiful as the day you brought them home.

Steer Clear of Chemical Cleaners

Chemical cleaners are toxic to the environment and to people! A better option for cleaning stained glass is to use a 50/50 solution of water (distilled is best if possible) and white vinegar.

Using commercial cleaners that contain alcohol or ammonia can damage the solder that is holding your window together! Using dish soap is also discouraged when cleaning leaded glass since the elements it contains can cause a negative reaction, which will discolor the lead.

Use Microfiber Towels

Microfiber towels are essential tool in keeping your stained glass looking beautiful. They are gentle to the glass and are effective at removing dust and dirt as well as any residue that may be on the glass.

Microfiber towels may also be used in between cleanings to remove surface dirt and will generally not leave behind streaks and traces of fiber that are typical of paper towels.

Be Gentle

Stained glass can be very fragile and requires a gentle touch. When cleaning, fold your microfiber towel into quarters and spray the white vinegar and water solution directly onto the cloth rather than directly on the window. Folding the cloth into quarters will help to evenly distribute the pressure from your fingers over the surface area.

If your window is exceptionally large, say over 6’ x 3’, a boar’s-hair brush is a great tool to scrub your window with. Boar’s hair bristles are extremely soft so as not to damage the glass, yet effective at providing a thorough cleaning.

Take Your Time

Don't rush the cleaning and finishing. A thorough cleaning and buffing will save you time and extra work in the future and gives you the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of your stained glass for years to come!

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