Cleaning Glass Insulators
Russ' Method

As a cost effective method for cleaning glass insulators, I use Bar Keepers Friend. I get it at Wal-Mart. Its by the cleaning supplies. It comes in a gold color fiber can similar to Ajax or Kitchen Cleanser. It cost about $2 a can. I use a full can in a five gallon bucket mixed with with water. I use a bucket with a lid to keep the kids and pets out. One of the disadvantages of Bar Keepers Friend is that it will settle to the bottom of the bucket. So it requires an occassional stirring. I soak the insulators at least 24 hours. Longer if its really dirty. Remember, the water and the insulator should be at room temperature before placing it in the bucket. Cold water and a hot insulator or hot water and a cold insulator will usually shatter or krackel the glass. After it has soaked, I use a wet scotch brite scrubbing pad, a little dish soap (Dawn) and some elbow grease. Rinsing it occassionally in clean water. If its really stubborn a steel wool (or SOS) pad helps. I use a baby bottle brush to clean the inside and the threaded area. It has two different size brushes on each end. The larger one fits well into the threads. The smaller works good around the petticoats. If its really hard to get the soot off, put it back in the Bar Keepers Friend for a couple more days.

OK, that was the cost effective method, now if time is more important than money:

I use Oxalic Acid. I buy it at Ace Hardware. Its called Bondex Wood Bleach Crystals. It comes in a 12 ounce plastic tub and costs about $6. I Use the same concept described above. This is a much stronger solution. I use rubber gloves. The Bar Keepers Friend solution doesn't seem bother my skin as long a I wash it off afterwards. The Wood Bleach (Oxalic Acid) is much more harsh. It irratates my skin. I recommend the use of rubber gloves and suggest following the other warnings listed on the package. This is a much stronger solution. It works faster and a little easier than the Bar Keepers Friend, but it cost three times as much and isn't as user friendly. On the up side, it does do the best job.

Please keep in mind, this is how I clean insulators.
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    updated May 2008