Two Tips For Maintaining Outdoor Antique Lights

Antique light fixtures, gothic style or otherwise, can add character to the exterior of your home and make it interesting to look at. However, these fixtures require regular maintenance; otherwise, the harsh outdoor elements will quickly make them look dull and uninviting. Here are two tips for keeping your outdoor lights looking great.

Avoid Using Harsh Cleaning Detergents

Since they're located outside, your exterior light fixtures will accumulate dirt and debris fairly quickly. Birds, air pollution, and other environmental hazards can do a number on your lights. Thus, the primary thing you can do to maintain their appearance is clean them on a regular basis (i.e., weekly or biweekly).

However, it's important to avoid using harsh cleaning products on the fixtures, particularly products containing bleach. Most commercial cleaners contain chemicals that can corrode the metal, causing it to soften and pit. Your fixtures will look scarred and unappealing, which may negatively affect how the exterior of your home looks.

Instead, use a solution specifically designed for cleaning antique lights made from copper or brass. Alternatively, you can create your own homemade cleaner by combining vinegar or lemon with salt and gently scrubbing the metal surface with a microfiber towel. If you need something stronger to remove a particularly tough stain, use a light-gauge steel wool scrubber. Wipe any cleaning residue from the fixture with a moist towel and dry thoroughly.

Polish With Wax Or Oil

Over time, copper will develop what's called a patina layer. This is a type of blue-green rust that gives copper its signature antique look. Some people like the patina. If you don't, however, you can prevent it from forming on your light fixtures by coating them with a layer of wax or oil, such as beeswax or linseed oil. Use a soft cloth to buff the oil into the metal so that it shines.

This should be done each time you clean the light fixtures, as the sealant will be stripped away by the cleaning solution you use. You can also apply lacquer on the light fixture to provide additional protection from environmental elements.

Taking time every week or so to clean and maintain your antique outdoor lights will keep them looking great for years to come. For more tips on taking care of antique lighting (including antique gothic-style lighting) or to find lighting that looks great around your home, visit a local lighting store or shop at a specialty retailer online.