When was the last time you cleaned your stage lighting equipment?
Perhaps it’s been awhile since you last were up near your lights and don’t know how dirty they’ve gotten. Or perhaps you’ve just assumed they’ll take care of themselves. Unfortunately for your optimism, the lights won’t clean themselves.
The good news is that clean lights are brighter and lamps and components live longer when they’re in a clean fixture. Plus, taking time to clean your lights will help you spot any broken parts and lamps you need to replace, so it’s a win-win!
How do I Clean my Stage Lights?
But before we clean anything, we’re going to remember that any light we have open MUST be turned off and unplugged for safety. Thank you!
Your good ole’ conventional lights are going to be the easiest to clean, so let’s start there. For starters, par cans, strip lights, LED’s and pretty much everything but ellipsoidals just need the dust brushed or blown out of them periodically. That’s really it, since these fixtures have no exposed lenses.
As for the ellipsoidals in the family, they’re going to take a little more work(always the trouble makers). We’re going to clean their lenses, and that starts with taking the lens out of the light if possible. Then we’re going to assemble some clean water and non-scratchy paper towels or a lint free cloth.
Blow the dust off of both front and back lenses, and then run a wet paper towel over the lens.
This should remove most of the dirt, if not all. If just water doesn’t do the trick, isopropyl alcohol or ammonia-FREE cleaner will work.
Be wary about any cleaner, however, as some lenses have reflective coatings that may be damaged! Be sure to dry the lens with a clean cloth and re-install it into the light, noting how awesome the light’s output is thanks to your work! Note that there is really no reason to take a lens apart, as dust doesn’t get inside of the lenses.
Now’s we’re going to step it up a notch- ready?
Cleaning your moving lights is going to take some work, and probably some tools.
The most basic cleaning process will be sufficient for those of you who don’t use oil-based haze on a regular basis. Water-based haze really doesn’t stick around inside your fixtures at all.
The first thing you want to do is get one of your moving fixtures down and find all of the fans and filters. The light’s user manual should be able to aid you there.
You’re going to want to have an air compressor and a screwdriver handy for this. Canned air can leave some condensation on your electronics, so it’s really not your best bet.
One by one, clean the fans and filters by blowing air through them so that the dust leaves the fixture.
The dust didn’t get there from being inside the fixture, it came from the room and it needs to leave that way too! Always use a screwdriver inserted in the fan to keep it from over-revving and killing itself.
This is really important. If you can’t find a way to do this with the way the filter is set up, find a way to remove it for cleaning and re-insert it in the same direction when you’re done.
If there is any dirt or grime on the lens, clean it like an ellipsoidal lens as I described above.
Dimmers, Racks and Power Distros
The last important place to clean is your rack equipment, which may be really, really dirty if it’s in a maintenance closet or attic area.
Before you do anything else, turn off the power completely to any dimmers, racks or power distros. As you know, high voltage is extremely dangerous, and fans/dimmers can come on at any time when someone hits a wall panel button.
Locate any filters, removable modules and fans located on your equipment.
Take note of which way all the fans blow and the filters clean. You first want to clean any filters, like the big one on the front of your dimmer rack door or small fan filters on power distros.
Do this with compressed air blowing opposite of how a fan sucks air into the distro, and have a dustpan and broom ready to clean up the consequences!
Then, clean the fans by using the screwdriver to steady the fan’s blade while you blow air through it, in the direction leaving the equipment.
The last step is to remove individual dimmer modules if your dimmer has them, and blow the dust out in the direction of least resistance.
Re-assemble everything, being careful to properly seat all dimmer and rack components, and then you’re ready to turn the power back on and admire your work. Just think about the years you’ve added to the life of your equipment!