Guide to Maintaining Your Stained-Glass Windows

There’s something majestic about how stained-glass windows look, especially when sunlight enters through them. Although it’s not everyone’s taste, this classic Gothic staple does have its share of fans. As you might’ve noticed, stained-glass windows are often seen in old homes and churches. But even then, many people today can appreciate this decorative element in their space.

You might’ve bought a home that has stained-glass windows, or maybe you plan to have some installed by your entry door. Whichever the case, it’s always handy to know how to maintain stained-glass windows. This won’t just maintain its beauty, but it will also lengthen its use.

Get that great first impression from your guests! To help you get started, here are some things you should know about these beautiful windows.

A Brief History of Stained Glass Windows

Stained glass windows are often associated with the church interior, fittingly so as the earliest stained-glass windows were made for the Roman Catholic Church. But even then, the ancient art of creating stained glass can be traced back to the early Egyptians. Stained glass windows were similar to paintings in that they were frequently shaped into religious portraits and themes. Many individuals are still inspired by these old masterpieces, incorporating basic yet attractive stained-glass windows into the design and aesthetics of their homes.

How To Clean Stained Glass Windows

Most of the time, all they need is a little dusting here and there. However, this is only good for daily cleaning. For a more thorough clean, use a soft cloth and dampen it with distilled water. Using tap water will only leave an ash-like residue, which contains minerals that are left behind when water evaporates. Avoid using any abrasive cleaning products as these may harm the quality of the windows.

Getting Rid of Mold

Nobody wants to find mold anywhere in their home. Fortunately, it’s nothing a little homemade cleaning solution can’t fix. Have you noticed how vinegar is used all around the home due to its cleaning properties? Well, stained-glass windows are another thing that benefits from it, specifically when it comes to getting rid of mold. With four parts water and one part white vinegar, you now have a friendly cleaning solution that’s aggressive only to mold present on your windows.

Other store-bought cleaning products can work just as well, but at the risk of your glass getting discolored. This homemade solution is your safest and best bet.

stained glass window

Step-by-Step Guide to Clean The Stained Glass

All antique and modern stained glass windows need a deeper cleaning every once in a while. Dusting and wiping are great for maintenance, but sometimes, there are issues that only a good yet gentle scrub can solve. 

Are you ready for your stained-glass windows maintenance and cleaning? Check if they’re foggy or stained and if light shines through well. If any of these things are an issue, it’s time to clean. Here’s how.

1. Inspect the Glass

Before cleaning, you’ll need to inspect the glass first. This inspection should focus on a few key points. 

Leaded Joints

Each colorful piece of your stained-glass window is held in place by a leaded joint. If these joints are damaged in any way, your window is at risk. To make sure they’re okay, check for any separation between them and the glass itself, as well as any corrosion.

Glass Pieces

Take a look at the glass pieces one by one. Are there any chips or cracks? Is the paint layer peeling or cracking? Make sure you’re thoroughly inspecting every piece, as even the smallest chips can become a major issue later on.

Fading or Discoloration

Finally, you’ll need to check the paint and its vivacity. Is everything bright and lively, or are your windows looking dull, washed out, or discolored? 

If any of these poses an issue, you should schedule a repair. Trying to clean a damaged window can cause further damage, so it’s better to be safe. 

2. Dust the Stained Glass

If your stained glass windows are all good, you can go ahead and dust them off. Do this by using a soft brush or a microfiber cloth only. You can dampen these tools with a bit of distilled water. 

3. Prefer a Mild Cleaner

A mild, non-abrasive window cleaner is the best choice for a deeper clean. A good, at-home cleaner recipe is a soft cloth soaked in a mix of distilled water and gentle dish soap. Before wiping the windows, make sure your cloth is damp. Give your window a good, gentle scrub and dry it completely.

Another good idea is to patch test your cleaner. Pick a small corner and give it a scrub. If you don’t notice any adverse reaction, you’re good to go.

How To Restore Stained Glass Windows

Like anything else in your home, stained-glass windows need some managing too. To help preserve its beauty and condition, especially when it’s old, it’s crucial to take care of them the right way.

Keeping the Glass in Place

Other elements of the windows, such as the came that keep the patterns of glass in place. Came is usually composed of brass, copper, lead, and zinc, thus the metallic look of them. Inspect the quality of the putty that keeps the glass in its frames. Should there be any loose or missing parts, replace them immediately.

Loose Glass Pieces

It is totally normal for the glass to expand and compress as the windows age. This is their way of regulating and adjusting themselves to the temperature of their immediate environment. However, this also means that the metal no longer fits the glass like it used to. If this happens, you’ll need to have the stained-glass windows re-fitted by a professional stained-glass window provider or a window installation company.

Cleaning Lead

You might have a vague idea of how lead can be harmful to a person’s health. But generally, having lead content in your stained-glass windows should be no reason for concern. However, if the metal parts that keep the pieces together start to oxidize due to age, you can easily wipe it off.

Using a pair of gloves and a cloth, simply wipe the powder-like residue off the surface. Afterward, throw the gloves and cloth away so it doesn’t come in contact with anything and anyone else. Take note, when cleaning lead keep your area well-ventilated and wear a mask.

Knowing how to take care of your stained-glass windows will allow them to continue being a decorative statement in your home. Considering that a whole window is made up of multiple pieces put together by came, stained-glass windows do need a different regimen for care and maintenance. Although this may mean that they require more attention than your ordinary windows, the personality they offer a space should be enough reason to keep them around. Any room with a stained-glass window can easily stand out.

Removing Corrosion From Stained Glass

Stained-glass window corrosion, also called white mold, occurs on the lead and solder lines of your window. It can be due to soldering residue, water damage, and more. Often present in older windows, it should be tackled immediately. 

Identify the Type and Extent of the Corrosion

Inspect all the lead and soldering lines and determine how far the white mold has spread. Pay attention to even the smallest specks and identify the source of the corrosion. 

If it’s water, check for leaks and consider moving the window to another spot. If it’s flux residue, get ready to clean it off.

Select the Right Cleaner and Tools

A cloth, brush, and gentler cleaner are all you really need to remove corrosion. You can opt for a mix of salt and vinegar or use a baking soda and dish soap paste. Of course, you can also buy your cleaner; however, you’ll need to make sure it’s gentle enough.

Gently Clean 

Use a soft scrub brush to carefully scrub off the corrosion with circular motions. It’s best to apply the cleaner on the lead only and not the actual glass to avoid damaging the paint. Clean both sides.

Rinse and Dry the Glass 

Once the corrosion is gone, rinse the windows with water and dry them off completely with a soft cloth.

Maintenance Tips for Stained Glass

To avoid having to do a deep cleaning on your custom stained-glass windows often, consider practicing proper maintenance and protection.

Sunlight & High Temperatures 

Exposure to direct sunlight and high temperatures damages the color as well as the paint layer itself. It can also affect the structure by causing it to expand. Consider moving the glass, covering it, or creating a shade for it.


Make sure your stained-glass windows are covered whenever any renovation or construction work is done. You can use clear film or thick material. 

Proper Maintenance 

To avoid new damage or corrosion, seal the glass with a protective coating. Frequent dusting and wiping are also recommended, as are scheduled deep cleans. 

Stained Glass Care: Final Thoughts 

Cleaning stained-glass windows may be a time-consuming task, but it’s a necessary one. Preserving the beauty and historical value of your stained-glass windows should always be a number one priority, so use these tips to keep yours pristine for years to come!

FAQ’s About Stained-Glass Windows

1) ​​Do I need to wax my stained glass?

Waxing after cleaning can help keep your stained glass windows protected from dust and debris. 

2) Can I use vinegar on stained glass?

No. Stained glass does not react well with acidic cleaners. Instead, use soap and water.

3) How often should I clean the stained glass?

You should dust and wipe your stained glass windows at least once a month. Do deeper cleans when necessary.

4) Is vinegar better than alcohol for cleaning glass?

Vinegar is a better option for cleaning regular glass surfaces. 

5) How do you clean glass without leaving streaks?

Scrub glass with a cleaner, rinse with water, and squeegee out any remaining liquid.

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