Church Cleaning

Church Cleaning

Many of us wouldn’t question using our domestic cleaning products to clean the interior of churches, but not only could we be doing more harm than good, we might actually be cleaning far more than we need to. Sometimes less is more, particularly when it comes to caring for historic objects. 

Whilst many churches seem to have miraculous powers to become dirty again within hours, our aim must be to strike a balance between conserving the past, enjoying the present and passing onto future generations. 

Churches should look welcoming and well-loved, but that doesn’t mean they have to sparkle and shine, and cleaning shouldn’t be used to alter or improve upon the fabric itself.

Of course, a lack of cleaning can cause problems too.  Dust and dirt can build up and attract moisture and insects, it can also be compacted into layers and harden causing dust cementation.

Changing practices and attitudes can take time, but with an understanding of the basic principles you can gradually make small changes that will have long-lasting benefits. There is a difference between cleaning and ‘conservation cleaning’ and many people enjoy exploring conservation practices that will help them to safeguard the history and heritage of their church.

This introductory guide has been produced to help you review your practices and consider making changes.  It was produced as part of the ‘A Stitch in Time’ project supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2019.

Cleaning Historic Churches PDF

Caring for Stained Glass Windows – a useful video has been produced by the Cumbria Historic Churches Trust - (scroll to the bottom of the page for the full video).


You can also find advice on the Church of England website by searching for the type of material or object that needs cleaning, or by looking through the list on the church buildings advice and guidance page:



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Page last updated: 12th May 2021 6:02 PM
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Ely Diocesan Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales with company number 142183, and a charity registered in England and Wales with Charity Number 245456. The registered address is: Diocesan Office, Bishop Woodford House, Barton Road, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4DX. All rights reserved.