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How to Clean a Grandfather Clock Properly [8 Easy Steps]

The Grandfather clock is a splendid adornment for your interior. But like any other furniture, it is stationed and bound to collect dust and dirt.  Due to its complicated design, cleaning it might seem like an arduous job.

How to clean a grandfather clock?

With some easy steps, you can clean a grandfather clock all by yourself! Firstly, you need to remove the clock and clean the back. After that, clean the glass panels and the woodwork. Now you clean the weights and pendulum. After that, clean the baton and face. And finally, just replace the clock. 

Sounds intriguing? Well, I have explained everything you need to know in your 8-step guideline. 

Why wait any longer? Let’s begin!

How to Clean a Grandfather Clock: 8 Easy Steps

Just the thought of cleaning a grandfather clock might daunt a few people. It’s very common because of the complex and grandiose structure of the clock itself. 

But if you know the proper steps, cleaning it isn’t a big deal. We have prepared an 8-step guideline that will help you clean it easily. Let’s have a look at these steps:

Step 1: Remove the Clock  

Remove the pendulum and weights and set them aside if your grandfather clock fits together okay. Make sure it will aid in a complete cleaning exercise. 

You have to remove the movement. Then place it on a flat surface. Be careful, so that you don’t tangle the chains.

Step 2: Scrub the Back

To clean the backside of the case, you have to move it away from the wall. Now just brush the backside nicely to get rid of the dust.

If you are using a duster, then make sure to use a clean lambswool duster. Otherwise, it’ll just add more work than getting the job done.

If the movement hasn’t ceased, there is something that you need to take care of. Please make sure not to shake the clock too much when you reposition it.

Step 3: Cleaning the Glass Panels 

While cleaning the glass panels, we highly recommend not to clean it with cloth directly. Firstly, get a soft cloth. Now, use a non-ammonia cleaner on that. 

Some people tend to use an abrasive cleaner to clean the glass. It is not recommended and you should avoid using any type of abrasive cleaner.

By opening the doors, you can clean both sides of the glass. Once the movement has stopped, the doors may still pose a threat. If they are unsupported, they could be heavy enough for the case to fall.

If you hav33en’t removed the movement, make sure your cleaning doesn’t cause the clock to wobble or vibrate.

Step 4: Cleaning the Woodwork 

For all wood surfaces, use a high-quality wax polish. Apply the polish to the wood with a soft cloth and rub it in from the inside out. 

If you haven’t removed the movement, avoid getting this polish on any glass elements. And don’t shake the clock. 

To help you, we have mentioned some quality wax polishes:

Product 1
Product 2 

We hope that these products will help you in cleaning the woodwork properly.

Step 5: Weights and The Pendulum 

There are three weights in a grandfather clock. The left weight provides power to the hour strike, the right one provides for the chime melody. And the center weight provides power for the time. If you haven’t removed the weights, the pendulum and the clock face, lightly dust them. Then clean them more thoroughly.

Modern grandfather clock weights and pendulums are often lacquered. This is done to retain a highly polished appearance. If this is the case with your clock, a dry soft cloth should suffice.

Step 6: Face and Batons

Use a soft cloth to lightly dust the batons and the face. Make sure that you do not use a polish on the clock face. It makes the face look foggy.

Step 7: Change the Clock

If the movement has stopped, reassemble the clock case and make sure it stands straight. Replace and secure the movement, and the weights and pendulum. Then, restart the clock.

Step 8: Resetting The Time

Firstly, count the number of strikes when your grandfather clock strikes the next hour. When the clock chimed, only move the shorter hour hand. Move it to the numbers that you had just counted.

The hour count is now synchronized with the clock chime.

However, the time on the dial is now incorrect. Use the minute hand on the grandfather clock to set the time. Set the time according to your local time zone. 

Some clocks need a key to set the time. Often people lose the key, which can be seriously problematic. But with proper actions, you can still wind these clocks without the key.

We hope that these steps help you to clean your grandfather clock like a pro!

3 Tips To Keep Your Grandfather Clock Clean

If the grandfather clock is not cleaned for a long time, it could cause problems. Some components can get permanently damaged or discolored. 

These 3 tips will help you keep your beloved grandfather clock clean for a long time. 

Tip 1: Clean the grandfather clock every 6-7 years

You should schedule a cleaning day for your grandfather clock once every 6-7 years. The complex structure of the clock tends to catch dirt over time. 

If not cleaned thoroughly, the components can get rusty. Also, not cleaning it for a long time might cause its functionality to stutter.

Sometimes, the walls near the fireplace tend to get hot a lot. And an open window may cause direct sunlight to fall upon the grandfather clock. 

Consequently, the framework might catch dirt from the fireplace. Or, it might also accumulate dust from the open window.

Tip 2: Oil the grandfather clock every 3-5 years

It’s a fact that every clock needs a change of oil to function properly. Generally, a grandfather clock needs oiling every 5 years. 

You can oil on your own if you want to. You can also go to the professionals to get them to do it for you.

Tip 3: Seek Professional Assistance

Usually, dirt tends to accumulate deep within the clock’s mechanisms. In situations like this, hiring a professional is the best option. 

The cleaning will be done without causing any disruption to the clock.


Question: What is the best way for cleaning the brass on a grandfather clock?

Answer: First, you have to make a paste. Use 2 tablespoons lemon juice and a pinch of salt or baking soda. To polish the brass grandfather clock weight, rub the paste on it. Do it with a lint-free cloth.

Question: Is it possible to use WD40 on a grandfather clock?

Answer: Don’t use 3-in-1 or, worse yet, WD40. Both will affect the clock’s capacity to function. Current clock oil is synthetic, which lasts considerably longer than mineral or vegetable oils. 

Question: Can you over-oil a clock?

Answer: You have to apply one drop of oil to each oil sink to grease a clock. The surface tension will break If you put too much oil on the bearing. Thus, the oil will run down the plate, leaving the bearing dry. 

Final Words

We hope our 8-step guideline helps you with how to clean a grandfather clock. 

Grandfather clocks are precious to their owners and require to be taken care of.

Wear goggles and a mask to ensure health safety, So that, that the dust and other chemicals don’t cause any health hazards.

Until next time!