How to Clean & Oil an Antique Wind-up Clock

By Bethenny Watters
Clocks, the buildup, grime
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Antique wind-up clocks are a piece of history from a time before automation and electricity. Made of fine brass and intricate wheel mechanisms, these clocks must be wound at least once a week to keep time. As the wheels move inside, they can become covered in dust and film that may make the clock sluggish. Cleaning and oiling the clock at regular intervals are essential parts of clock maintenance.

Step 1

Use a feather duster to clean the exterior of the clock and the clock face once a week to prevent the buildup of dust and grime.

Step 2

Use a can of air duster or a vacuum with a soft brush attachment to clean the surface of the interior of the clock for more thorough cleaning. The blowing and suction of wind will help remove dust and debris trapped in tight spaces within the clock's moving parts.

Step 3

Remove the pendulum before moving a grandfather clock. Failure to do so may result in damage to the internal mechanism that controls the pendulum.

Step 4

Unwind and wind the mainspring a number of times when oiling the clock. Unwind the coils of the spring fully and then put a clean spring in the mainspring winder and brush a little bit of oil lightly on the entire surface.

Step 5

Apply a light film of clock oil to any part of the clock that rotates 360 degrees. This includes the hour hand wheel and the minute hand wheel. Use synthetic clock oil, not lubricants designed for items other than clocks, since these oils can damage your clock. Oil the clock once every two years.