The Best Way To Clean Your Neon Sign To Keep It Shiny And Bright

Traditionally used as a classic "Notice Me" advertorial, neon signs have moved past their business associations to venture into home décor. Many homeowners today customize and use cool neon signs as vibrant statement pieces in their otherwise minimalist or modern room design, or go all out in the "Blade Runner" style to create a cinematic inflorescent aesthetic. No matter the approach, it's undeniable that time does a number on these light fixtures, causing them to collect dust, grime, grease, spider webs, and dead bugs that cloud up the sign. Fortunately, wiping down the lights with a duster takes care of most of the accumulated dust and debris.

But if the neon signs are deeply stained, you should consider stirring up a soapy solution and carefully cleaning the fixtures with a soaked microfiber cloth. Remember, soaking the tubes in the emulsion is a big no-no unless you want to reduce your sign's long life and wreck its paint.

Prepping and dusting the neon signs

The cardinal rule for keeping your neon sign shiny and bright is disconnecting it from the power outlet. This is especially crucial in the old-school neon signage made from delicate, noble gas-filled glass tubes that heat up with usage. However, follow this principle for the relatively newer LED neon signs, too, since it minimizes the chance of electrocution. Besides, it's easier to spot the muck and blemishes with the lights off.

Once the power's cut, allow the lights to cool down for an hour or so. Afterwards, pick off light dirt, cobwebs, or insect carcasses with a soft-bristled brush or a feather duster. If none of these items are handy, use an old sock instead — just ensure that it's dry before using. Dial down on the pressure while cleaning lest you damage and destroy the fragile light tubes. Repeat the process frequently throughout the year — especially if you despise deep cleaning — to keep the neon signs pristine.

Cleaning stubborn stains

Dusting the neon signs might not suffice if you've delayed cleaning them for too long. Under such circumstances, soak a microfiber cloth in water and brush it across the sign to remove the remaining marks. Ensure you wipe down all corners and crannies, too. When this proves insufficient, bring out a container, pour ½ cup of water and mix in equal amounts of a non-abrasive cleaner (like dish soap). Dip a microfiber cloth in the mixture, wring it out to prevent the soapy solution from dripping down, and gently rub it on the stubborn stains.

Although you can use ammonia in place of soap, opinions on the matter are divided. Being an abrasive cleaner, ammonia can cause the tubes and the casing's paint to peel off. So, it's best to patch-test it in a discreet spot before using it. Regardless of your choice, ensure your neon signs aren't drenched in cleaner, or they might become permanently impaired. Wipe down with a fresh cloth and let the lights dry before plugging them back in. Deep clean your neon signs every six to 12 months to keep them bright and luminous.