How to clean hard-to-reach light fixtures

March 16, 2011

Question: Two light fixtures in our house are impossible to reach. One hangs from a cathedral ceiling, and the other is above the stairs in a two-story entryway. Both are filthy (and one is shaped like an upright bowl, so dust collects in it!). No ladders we’ve found are tall enough, we both fear heights and we’re not spring chickens. I’ve called various handymen and other companies, but no one is willing to clean these fixtures for us. Can you recommend someone? --Arlington

Answer: You might be able to clean the fixtures by using a duster on a telescoping wand. Professional models reach up to 30 feet, though you may need to shop for these by going online, visiting a janitorial supply company or asking a hardware store to do a special order. Some dusters are designed to clean fixtures that include fans.

For a professional cleaning, try Krystal Clear (703-944-2066, www.krystalclearllc.com). This company, recommended by Burgess Lighting in Fairfax, uses ladders, scaffolding or occasionally even a telescoping lift to reach very high light fixtures. The company specializes in cleaning crystal chandeliers, for which it might charge $500 for a massive piece that’s five feet tall. The fee is lower for simpler fixtures. Owner Waleed Osman said he couldn’t give ballpark numbers because the cost depends on access. Installing scaffolding requires at least three people, so the cost is relatively high. The company does offer free estimates, however.

If the cleaning cost turns out to be more than you want to pay repeatedly, you may want to install a motorized lift so you can lower the fixture within reach by pushing a button. Aladdin Light Lift (www.aladdinlightlift.com) is one manufacturer. Lifts aren’t cheap, though; the total cost, including work by an electrician, could come to $1,000 or more. You might also consider switching out the bowl fixture for one that’s easier to clean with a telescoping wand.

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