How to Clean & Oil a Grandfather Clock

The stately grandeur of a grandfather clock can create an atmosphere or charm or one of coziness. There are so many iconic cultural images in movies, books and television shows that feature grandfather clocks. This heirloom piece can last for centuries with the right care and upkeep. Despite the need for regular maintenance, you can perform a lot of it yourself with the right materials and steps.

Vintage grandfather clock clockface
credit: Berezko/iStock/GettyImages
How to Clean & Oil a Grandfather Clock

Dusting and Cleaning the Clock

Dust the grandfather clock every week. Use an ostrich feather duster because it doesn't weight much or put pressure on delicate parts of the clock. Dust the front of the clock. Then open the panel and gently dust the inside.

Clean the glass on the grandfather clock weekly. Use a non-ammonia glass cleaner and a soft lint-free cloth. Spray the cleaner directly on the cloth, then wipe down the glass outside the clock. Open both the large door that covers the pendulum and the small door that covers the clock face. Wipe down the inside.

Wax and polish the wood of the grandfather clock about every two to three months. Apply the furniture polish to a soft cloth. Then rub the polish into the wood. Avoid the glass surfaces and don't ever polish the clock face.

Cleaning the Inside

Call a professional to clean the inside of the clock every six to eight years. Oil and dust buildup will happen within the gears and mechanisms inside the grandfather clock. It requires a professional to disassemble the inner workings, clean them and put them back together. If you attempt to clean the mechanisms of your grandfather clock yourself, you will void the warranty and risk breaking the clock.

Oiling the Clock

Oil the grandfather clock every two years or whenever it seems to be slowing down. Oil kits can be purchased from furniture stores that sell grandfather clocks or upscale clock stores. Inside the kit are small bottles of oil and application tools to do the job.

To oil the clock, take off the clock movement or dial to reach the front plate. Gently put oil on each intersection of the clock plate and the gears. Look for the oil sink, a small dip in the outside of the clock plate. Fill the oil sink half full of clock oil.

Start from the bottom gear and work your way up, completing five or six gear trains, depending on the model. Some models may have as many as 35 places that require oil. Consult the manufacturer's guide before administering oil to ensure you are not missing a spot.

Only use the oil in clock kits or oils recommended by clock repair professionals. Using the wrong one can actually do a lot more harm than good to your clock. Try to get a second opinion at a clock repair shop or blog before using anything you aren't too sure of.