How To Clean Antique Kerosene Lamps

Ask any antique dealer and they’ll tell you that the value of an antique immediately doubles when the antiques are kept in good condition. And nothing comes quite as valuable as a well maintained antique kerosene lamp.

Keeping a kerosene lamp clean isn’t as daunting as it seems considering some of them have layers of soot and wax coating them over the years they’ve been used. The task just seems hard but once you get the hang of it, cleaning will be a snap!

To bring back the shine on those antique kerosene lamps, you’ll need the following:

  • Boiling water
  • Common everyday detergent
  • Paper towels
  • Soft polishing cloth
  • a thin stiff painter's brush
  • fine steel wool
  • a can of spray-on vegetable oil
  • a plastic basin

Cleaning a lamp is done in three stages, first you clean the font, followed by the metal components and finally the globe. Follow the steps below and you’ll have your lamp shining bright in no time! Just make sure you clean the lamp in a well ventilated area as the fumes can be dangerous and could start a fire.

  • Stage 1: the Font
    • Empty out any residual kerosene from the fuel reservoir or font. Dispose of the kerosene properly.
    • Pour a generous amount of detergent in the font then fill it to the brim with boiling water. Let sit for a half hour to an hour. This is done to soften any clinging wax from the font.
    • After the half hour is up, swish the water in the font and empty it. Repeat step 2 one more time to make doubly sure.
    • With the stiff painter’s brush, scrub the corners of the font to remove any lingering wax residue.
  • Stage 2: the Metal Components
    • Take apart the components then lay the parts on a paper towel so you don’t lose anything. Remember, the components are small and if you don’t organize these, you may find yourself in a jam later on.
    • With the spray on vegetable oil, spritz the tarnished parts then polish them until spotless.
    • After you clean the parts, apply a thin coat of the vegetable oil on the cloth and polish the metal parts.
  • Stage 3: the Globe or Chimney
    • Fill the plastic bin with warm water and detergent. Fill it with enough water to immerse the globe and let soak for ten to twenty minutes.
    • Pull it out of the bin and with the painter's brush or steel wool clean out the soot and grime. Should there be a thin film of soot still on the globe dampen a cloth with ammonia to clean it. Use warm water to rinse it out.
    • Now that the globe is free of soot and grime polish it with cloth.

The best part of having an antique kerosene lamp around handy is that you can use it every so often. And a well-maintained lamp can brighten up a household in many ways. So make sure your kerosene lamp shines brightly for you and your family.


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