How to Clean Stained Glass Windows With Household Products

No need for any harsh cleaners to keep your historic stained glass windows clean and damage-free.

Stained glass windows with soap bubbles

Stained glass windows are often found in older homes and provide a charming ambiance. However, they can become dirty or dusty over time and may require specialized cleaning techniques to prevent damage. Understanding how to clean stained glass windows properly (or leaded glass, for that matter) is essential for preserving their appearance and structural integrity and reducing your exposure to lead dust.

How to Clean Stained Glass Windows

It’s important to be gentle when cleaning stained glass because the materials are delicate and can easily be scratched, discolored, or damaged by aggressive cleaning methods.

Total Time Needed :






– Soft microfiber or cotton cloths
– Small plastic bucket or bowl
– Soft, natural bristle brush
– Spray bottle
– Ladder or step stool (if necessary)
– Rubber gloves


– 1 teaspoon mild dish soap
– 1 tablespoon white vinegar
– 1 gallon distilled water


Step 1: Conduct a Preliminary Inspection

Before beginning, carefully inspect the window for any cracks, loose lead, or other damage. If you find any issues, consult with a professional before proceeding.

Step 2: Remove Surface Dust and Cobwebs

Use a soft brush to gently remove any surface dust, dirt, or cobwebs from the window. Be gentle to avoid scratching the glass or dislodging the lead.

Step 3: Prepare Cleaning Solution

• In a large bucket or container, combine the dish soap and white vinegar.
• Slowly add the gallon of distilled water to the soap and vinegar mixture, stirring gently to ensure an even distribution of the ingredients. Pour the solution into a spray bottle.
• It may be wise to test the cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous section of the stained or leaded glass to ensure it does not cause any discoloration or other issues.

Step 4: Wet the Glass

Spray or gently apply the cleaning solution to a small section of the glass using a soft cloth. Work in small sections to prevent streaking.

Step 5: Gently Clean the Glass

Using a soft microfiber or cotton cloth, gently rub the wetted area in a circular motion. Avoid putting pressure on the lead or solder joints.

Step 6: Clean the Lead

Use extra caution when cleaning the lead. Wearing gloves, gently wipe the lead with a damp cloth, being careful not to bend or damage it.

Step 7: Repeat for Each Section

Continue the process, working in small sections, until the entire window has been cleaned.

Step 8: Rinse with Distilled Water

Rinse the cleaned area with distilled water to remove any soap residue. Use a separate clean cloth to wipe the area dry. Using distilled water when rinsing is essential to avoid mineral deposits that can be left behind by regular tap water, which may cause unsightly spots or even potential harm to the stained or leaded glass.

Step 8: Allow to Dry

Inspect the window for any missed spots and wipe down with a dry cloth. Allow the window to air dry completely.


Be cautious not to use too much water, especially near leaded joints, as excessive moisture can seep into the cracks and cause the lead to oxidize or the surrounding wooden frames to swell and deteriorate.

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