Cleaning Outdoor Light Fixture Covers

One drawback to outside lighting is that the light fixture covers tend to get dirty over time. This happens simply from being subjected to the elements of the weather day after day, as well as dirt and debris that is constantly in the air.

The problem is that when light fixture covers get dirty, they can negatively impact your outdoor lighting in a number of ways. That is why it is worth taking the time every once in a while to clean outdoor light fixtures to keep them looking and functioning at their best.

Negative Impacts of Dirty Light Fixture Covers

light-fixture-coversWe all know that dirty light fixture covers can detract from the look of our outdoor lighting, but did you realize that there are other impacts to your lighting as well? These include:

Reduced Light Emittance

If your light fixture covers are dirty, your lights simply won’t emit enough light. This can be a problem, especially with some outdoor lighting fixtures that don’t emit a lot of light in the first place and are designed for safety purposes, such as step lights or pathway lights.

Increased Heat Accumulation

If outdoor light fixture covers get too dirty or are covered with debris, it can allow too much heat to accumulate within the lighting fixture. This can lead to malfunctioning of the light, premature burning out of light bulbs, or worse yet, it can be a potential fire hazard.

Breeding Ground for Unwanted Pests

Unclean light fixture covers can not only be an eyesore, but can become a breeding ground for unwanted pests, such as insects, bees, birds and even small animals. If an animal can find a way to nestle in a small pile of debris, shielded from the elements and predators by your light fixture covers, you may get more than you bargained for when you go near your light!

How To Clean Light Fixture Covers

How To Clean Light Fixture Covers

Cleaning light fixture covers are relatively easy to do (as long as you can reach the light!) and can be a super-easy job if you keep to a regular maintenance schedule so the covers on your light fixtures don’t build up too much dirt and debris on them between cleanings.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make sure that your lights are turned off before cleaning the light fixture covers. You don’t want to get burned by the heat of the bulb in the process.
  2. Gently wipe the covers of light fixtures with a soft, clean cloth. If there is stubborn dirt on the covers, you can use a mild cleaner to remove the dirt. Glass light fixture covers can be easily cleaned by using Windex, Glass Plus or any window cleaner. If you have brass, bronze, stainless steel, nickel or another type of metal light fixture cover, you should be sure that any cleaning product you use will not damage the finish. Often the best solution is a mixture of a tablespoon of dish soap mixed with a little water – that can usually do the trick of removing all types of dirt and grime without harming the surface finish. Just take care of how much liquid you use since your light is still plugged into an electricity source.
  3. If you see that debris, insects or leaves have built up beneath the light fixture cover, gently remove the cover and clean out the debris. Be careful when doing this to not break the light fixture cover and to not lose any screws that may be holding it in place. Also be aware that within the debris lodged in your light fixture, there may be unwanted pests, so use caution when removing the light fixture cover and the subsequent debris.
  4. If you removed the cover of the light fixture to clean beneath it, put it back in place and securely fasten any screws or attachments. Make sure the light fixture cover is completely dry before turning the lights back on.

Repairing or Replacing Light Fixture Covers

Sometimes, your light fixture cover can break, crack or become damaged in some other way, although the rest of your light fixture still works.

When that happens, it’s best to try to repair the light fixture cover, if possible. If the cover is glass, this can usually not be done and should not be attempted if the glass is broken.

If the light fixture cover is made from another material, you may be able to repair the cover so that it still looks good and does its job properly.

Just make sure that any materials that you use to repair a light fixture cover can withstand the constant exposure to heat from the light bulb, once the light is on. And be especially sure that any product you use (such as glue) is not flammable.

If repairing the light fixture cover is not possible, you may be able to contact the manufacturer of the fixture to see if they offer replacement light fixture covers for the particular model that you own. This can save you a lot of money over having to replace the whole light.