Tips On Cleaning and Caring For Stained Glass Leaded Windows

8 August 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Many houses that were built prior to the 1940s have stained glass integrated into the overall glazing of the property.  Stained glass can last for decades if cared for properly.  Old leadlight stained glass windows may require professional leadlight restoration services periodically, but you can clean the glass in between.  Here's how.

What you'll need

  • soft cotton cloths
  • pH neutral solution (e.g. mild washing-up liquid)
  • water
  • old toothbrush (soft and worn)
  • cotton buds
  • plastic spray bottle
  • whiting powder (available from craft supplies shops)

When cleaning your leadlight stained glass windows, never use acidic substances, such as vinegar or lemon juice; these substances can damage the leadlight that frames the glass.

How to do it

  1. Begin the cleaning process by making up a solution of mild washing-up liquid and warm water and decanting it into a clean plastic spray bottle.  
  2. Spray a small amount of your cleaning solution onto a clean, soft cloth and begin to clean the glass, one pane at a time, working from the top of the window down to the bottom.  Don't spray the solution directly onto the window, as any excess will run down into the leadlight and could cause damage.  
  3. Clean dust and grime from the glass by using your cloth in gentle, circular motions.  Rinse the cloth periodically and continue using a clean spot on the fabric.  Never be tempted to use anything abrasive on the glass; scourers or rough sponge can cause scratching that's difficult to restore.  
  4. Stained glass leadlight windows have a habit of accumulating dirt where the glass joins the leading.  To tackle this, dip a cotton bud in your cleaning solution and use it to carefully rub away the dirt.  
  5. Allow the glass to air dry.  
  6. No matter how careful you are, you may notice some streaks on your glass after cleaning.  To correct this, take a clean, dry cloth and add a small quantity of whiting powder, working over the glass in smooth circles.  This will quickly and safely remove any streaks.

If you discover any loose pieces of putty while you're cleaning the windows, it's important that you contact a professional restoration firm immediately.  Loose or missing putty could cause the panes to fall out and break.  Aged glass also expands and contracts when the temperature changes, meaning that it can work loose or even break the retaining leadlight bars that hold it in place, and this is also a job for a restorer.

In conclusion

You can keep your stained glass leadlight windows looking spotless by following the guidelines given above and cleaning them regularly.  In between deep cleans, keep dust at bay by flicking the windows over carefully with a feather duster.