Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How To Clean a Chandelier!

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As the Butler in this billionaire's household, something I'm often asked is, "How do you clean your chandeliers?" 

And my answer is always, "We don't! We get someone else to do it."

Cleaning a chandelier is one of the most boring, tedious, time-consuming tasks known to mankind. So don't even think about doing it yourself!  

Among other chandeliers in this house, in the dining room we have an enormous Baccarat -- three-tiered with forty-six lamps, if I counted correctly. There's several dozen large crystals and literally hundreds of small crystals. And there's just no way can we clean this monster ourselves.

So here's what I know, and here's what we do:

1)  First and most important! There are several products on the market that ask you to spread a drop-cloth below the chandelier, then spray all the crystals with their product. And supposedly all the dirt, grime and soot will just drip off! But not so! These products are absolute frauds. None of them work! They all leave the crystals streaked and cloudy. So don't waste your time and money with this.

2)  We keep our chandeliers looking fresh by dusting the cobwebs and hand-polishing the large crystals. (Use a rubber glove and a baby diaper sprayed with Windex, or some other glass cleaner of choice.)  If the large crystals look sparkling clean to the casual observer, then that must mean the entire chandelier is clean, right?  (And if a guest just stands there and rudely stares at your chandelier, he needs to be thrown out and never invited again!)

3)  You can send the chandelier out to a professional cleaner, who will take apart each crystal, polish it, and reassemble the entire fixture. And there goes an easy $20,000 for the movers to take it down, for the experts to clean it, and the movers once again to reinstall it. And your dining room will be out of service for at least two months.

4)  Or, you can hire someone willing to sit on a ladder for hours on end and polish each and every crystal by hand. You'll probably need someone, and no offense meant here at all, with OCD's (Obsessive Compulsive Disorders). And you'll want to pay this person at least fifty dollars an hour. We have a wonderful young lady with minor OCD's who can clean our dining room chandelier in about twelve to fifteen hours. (I hope I'm not being flippant about OCD's. Properly channeled, they can be very useful. And everyone has them to some extent, don't we? Even if it's the way we put on our socks in the morning.) 

So there you have it, from a professional butler -- for whatever it's worth. You know in your heart you will never clean your own chandelier. So get rid of the guilt, and get someone else to do it. 

Thanks for stopping by tonight. Hope this was helpful.

Andrew

15 comments:

  1. To Andrew,

    I've been reading a lot of your posts, but this one cracks me up. It just so happens I clean my own chandelier. And yes, I have OCD's! Never thought about it as being helpful, but as you bring it to my attention, I guess it is, and thank you for making me laugh. LOL

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  2. Thanks for saying that! I was afraid I was being offensive. But OCD's can be put to use, and I'd love to see your shiny chandelier.

    Thanks for reading,
    Andrew

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  3. I work in an institution for the mentally impaired, and just want to tell you that ocd's can be immobilizing, sometimes deadly, especially when someone afflicted with this can't even feed themselves. I know you are talking about the mild cases, like on that TV show Monk. But I just wanted to add my two cents. I enjoy reading your stories, but this one gave me a litle bit of a shock.

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  4. Thank you for your input here, Anonymous.

    And yes, there are many levels -- mild, moderate, severe. In addition to the extreme case you just described, the Mayo Clinic also says OCD's can lead to drug and alcohol abuse (to stop the fear and paranoia), as well as suicidal thoughts.

    But the milder forms can be channeled. "Monk" on the tv, as you mentioned, is an example of the moderate phase. And even that can be channeled.

    It's an interesting topic. And I was afraid of being insensitive when writing this post. But the young lady we hire has only the mildest form, which can be redirected and put to use.

    By the way, which side of the bed do you sleep on?

    The word "habit" is just a very mild form of what we're talking about.

    Thank you so much for adding to this topic!

    Andrew

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  5. You're way out there Andrew. But on this topic of OCD's I think you are right. I can barely get out the door every day without locking and relocking it three or four times. But when I do finally get out, I know the damned door is locked! Laughing at myself -- LOL! Enjoying your blog. Ja-Ja-Ja-Ja-Janice. LOL!

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  6. You're a sweetheart to say that, Janice! Thank you so much for reading. I don't lock my door as many times as you, but I worry all day if I did or not! Ha!

    And the ability to laugh at your own OCD's shows that you're in control! Congrats about that, for sure.

    I hope reading my blog becomes one of your OCD's. Ha!

    Andrew

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  7. It's a nice tips! I liked the 3rd one most! Sending the chandelier to professional cleaner, will be most helpful way for cleaning. They clean with safety and polish it, and reassemble the entire fixture.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Apparently you're in the chanelier installation/cleaning business. And there's no doubt professional cleaning is the best. But the down-time and expense is a big consideration.

      Thanks for reading,
      Andrew

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  8. Thanks for this post! Good ideas! I just wanted to add two things to it. First, you are dead on about the comment on the sprays. I actually had a "PROFESSIONAL" clean my chandelier that way! It wound up corroding all of the metal wire that holds the small crystals together! Needless to say I was VERY angry! During the next cleaning (by someone who came to my house and cleaned it the proper way) the person told me about the corrosion and told me never to have it cleaned that way again. Shortly after that I had a hydraulic lift retrofitted into the ceiling for the larger hall chandelier. Now, when I want to clean it, I just turn a key and press a button and the chandelier comes down to me! I'd highly suggest this for anyone with large heavy chandeliers - especially because the benefit gained from having a lift far exceeds the liability of having someone injure themselves! Just a thought! And thanks for the great blog! I'm super happy I found it!

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    1. You're 100% correct that a motorized or even a hand-canked lift is the best way to lower a chandelier, both for cleaning and changing the bulbs. Even in the middle ages chandeliers were lowered by pulleys and chains.

      I can imagine your anger over the corrosion! Which, by the way, is why it's important not to spray the crystals with glass cleaner -- just the polishing cloth.

      Thanks so much for adding to the topic, and I do hope you'll keep commenting. You apparently have some valuable experience and wisdom in running a big house. But maybe add some initals or a name, so we know who you are.

      Andrew




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  9. Thank you Andrew! You are so pleasant! No wonder you created a life of service! I have had many employees over the years, both in and out of the house and have always found most to be grateful and loyal. I've only found two in my house and two in my company to be bad eggs. Not terrible, given I've had more than 200 over the past twenty years! Now that all of my children are out of the house (well, except one who is only 16 but starting college this year), I myself, am considering a career in household/estate management. I certainly know things from an owner's perspective and would love being able to bring that experience and respect to someone else's house. If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them! I currently hold an undergraduate degree in International Business (university was #1 program in U.S. at the time) and Finance (tied for #2 program) that I earned in 2005, shortly after selling my company. I'd love to take courses to further my knowledge in this area as well as education is extremely important to me. I was considering Starkey. Let me know what you think! Thanks! And, it's Doreen, BTW. (my name!) Take care and thanks for taking the time to respond. You are very gracious!
    Warm regards!

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    1. Hi Doreen,

      With your education and experience in house management, you probably qualify for the top job, Estate Manager. This is largely an office job, overseeing multiple properties, often with lots of travel to hire and train the staff in all their various positions. Which is why house managemnt studies are so important.

      The key is finding the right family, and any good house management school will also function as an agency to help you along that path.

      But you'll want a prominent, perhaps even famous family that's involved in lots of interesting activities. Otherwise, the job can be boring, repetitive and completely unrewarding decide.

      Good luck!
      Andrew



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  10. Perfect! That is actually EXACTLY what I'd be interested in doing! Thank you so much for the advice! I truly appreciate it! If anything happens, I'll keep you up to date!

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  11. I am not OCD, I clean 16 chandeliers on a rotating schedule. Take off the crystals, leave one arm hanging if you don't have a trim pattern. Soak the crystals in hot ammonia water for 12-15 minutes, then move to a hot vinegar solution for 12-15 minutes. Dry with a microfiber terry towel. It is the best way to clean your chandeliers.

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    1. Thanks for your awesome information, Cheryl. I wish I had enough staff and time to do what you're doing. You clean more like a professional would do -- bearing in mind that the tiny little wires will wear out with repeated cleanings. But they're easily replaced with new wire, given the time and patience.

      Please do stop by here anytime with better advice than what I've got to offer.

      Many thanks,
      Andrew

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