How to Clean Antique Kerosene Lamps

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Things You'll Need

  • Liquid car cleaner

  • Soft, lint-free cloth

  • Soft toothbrush

  • Detergent

  • Stiff-bristled brush


Always store kerosene in an approved, labeled, tightly closed container; keep it out of children's reach.


Kerosene is hazardous, so you must consult with your local environmental regulatory agency, solid waste authority or health department to establish the right way to discard it. Never pour kerosene down the drain, down the storm sewer or on the ground. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency recommends taking unwanted kerosene to a local household hazardous waste collection site.

To avoid accidentally inhaling kerosene, wear a mask when working with your old lamp.

An antique kerosene lamp brings a little history into your home, but that's no excuse for leaving it in its grimy state. To keep it functioning properly with a beautiful appearance, you need to keep it clean. The brass components of the lamp are susceptible to corrosion if they're not cleaned the right way.

Step 1

Take your kerosene lamp apart carefully. Place the brass components, reservoir and globe or chimney on a flat, protected surface.

Step 2

Clean the brass components with a suitable cleaning product. Miles Stair's Wick Shop, which has been selling components for kerosene lamps since 1999, suggests using a liquid car cleaner to clean the metal without damaging the patina. Following the directions for use, apply a light coat of the cleaner to the lamp's brass components. Wipe it off with a soft, lint-free cloth, and let it dry completely. Use a soft toothbrush to remove all traces of cleaner from the nooks and crannies of the components.

Step 3

Fill your lamp's fuel reservoir with boiling water and a squirt of detergent. Leave it to sit for about an hour, and then pour it out. Repeat the process. Clean the reservoir thoroughly with a stiff-bristled brush to get rid of all remnants of wax. Rinse with hot water, and turn the lamp upside down. Leave it to dry. This will remove all kerosene residue from the bottom of the reservoir.

Step 4

Soak the lamp's globe or chimney in a basin of warm water and detergent for a few minutes, making sure it is completely immersed in the mixture. Lift it out of the water and scrub it all over with a stiff-bristled brush, until all remnants of soot and grease are removed. Rinse it thoroughly in warm water. Buff the glass with a lint-free cloth to make it shine.

references & resources

Claire has been writing and editing for 18 years. She has written for many digital publications, including Apartment Therapy, Good Housekeeping, Buzzfeed and Architectural Digest.

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