How to clean & oil a grandfather clock

Updated April 17, 2017

The stately grandeur of a grandfather clock creates an atmosphere of luxury and charm. From the intricate details in the clock face to the smooth swinging pendulum, this heirloom piece can last for centuries with the right care and upkeep. A grandfather clock should receive regular maintenance. You can perform almost all the maintenance tasks for your grandfather clock yourself.

Dust the grandfather clock every week. Use an ostrich feather duster that allows minimum pressure to be put on the parts. Dust the face and 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 (housing the pendulum) and the small door (housing the clock face). Wipe down the inside.

Wax and polish the wood of the grandfather clock just like any other wood furniture, 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.

Call a professional to clean the clock every 6 to 8 years. Oil and dust build-up 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. It is not recommended for a non-professional to do this. If you attempt to clean the mechanisms of your grandfather clock yourself, you will void the warranty and risk breaking the clock.

Oil the grandfather clock every two years or whenever it appears sluggish or the time is 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 up, completing 5 or 6 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.


Check with the store you purchased the clock from to see if they sell clock cleaning kits. These contain materials, cleaners and cloths that best perform upkeep on the clock.


Don't use just any oil. Clock oil is specially calibrated to ensure smooth movement of gears and avoid gumming up the mechanisms.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft lint-free cloths
  • Non-ammonia glass cleaner
  • Ostrich feather duster
  • Furniture polish
  • Oil kit
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About the Author

Brown is a writer with expertise in many topics, including law, health, fitness, travel and outdoor recreation. Brown earned a Bachelor of Science degree in history from Utah State University. He began working as a freelance writer in 2007, and his articles appear on several Demand Studio websites, including eHow.