How To Clean Lampshades of Any Kind

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How to clean lampshades whether they’re paper, fabric, glass, or plastic — even the pleated ones. Get rid of dust, grime, and stains with these tips.

Between grubby hands, household dust, and pet hair, lampshades tend to get grimy. Cleaning them is one of those tasks that take your home from tidy to truly clean.

The thing is, lamps are like jewelry for your room: if they’re nice, they’ll accentuate your room’s beauty, but if they’re in bad shape, they’ll make it look worse. And, like jewelry, the good ones aren’t cheap.

How To Clean Lamp Shades

Some lampshades cost more than the lamp they’re on, so use the correct method to clean your lampshade, depending on the type. Turn your light off several minutes before you plan to clean the shade to give it time to completely cool to room temperature.

Fabric Lamp Shades

  1. If the material is sturdy, you can use your vacuum cleaner and the soft brush attachment to remove dust from fabric lampshades. If the fabric is glued on, you can wash it after dusting. Do this in a tub of cold water with a teaspoon of liquid dish soap or laundry detergent. Immerse the entire shade and swirl it to remove additional dirt. Work quickly, and do not let it soak, or you may damage the adhesive holding the fabric in place. Rinse thoroughly, using only cold water, and pat it dry with a towel. Let it air dry completely before reinstalling it.
  2. For delicate fabric lampshades, use a clean lint roller or paintbrush and long, vertical motions to sweep off the dust from top to bottom. Paintbrushes work particularly well for pleated fabric shades. Remove stains by gently brushing them with a special sponge for dry-cleaning. (Those sponges are great for removing stains from wallpaper and fabric blinds, too!)

Paper or Parchment Lamp Shades

  1. Paper or parchment lampshades are not washable, so you need to dust them well with a dry microfiber cloth.
  2. Remove greasy stains by pressing a piece of crustless white bread against the spot. Rotate the bread to a clean area, then dab until the stain is gone. (It sounds crazy, but it works!)

Plastic or Fiberglass Lamp Shades

  1. Remove the shade, then dust it inside and out with a damp microfiber cloth.
  2. Wash plastic lampshades in a sink or bowl of warm water with a little dishwashing liquid. Add white vinegar to the water if the shade is greasy. Rinse well and dry.

Glass Lamp Shades

  1. Glass lampshades can be washed in the dishwasher on the top rack, as long as they are not hand-painted or have gilt or glued-on embellishments. There’s no need to clean them separately from other dishes, but don’t crowd the machine.
  2. If you don’t have a dishwasher, clean it in a tub of warm, soapy water. Add white vinegar to the water if the shade is greasy, then rinse and immediately hand-dry it.

How to Keep Lampshades Clean

Clean the surface of the lampshade on a regular basis. Turn the light off and let the shade cool completely. Clean fabric lampshades with your vacuum’s upholstery brush attachment or a clean paintbrush. For parchment or paper lampshades, run a lint roller over them to remove dirt when you clean a room. Wipe plastic lampshades and glass globes with a lightly dampened cloth. Regardless of the type of lampshade, you should deep clean them once each season.

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  1. Margaret Noble says:

    I have a swag lamp with what appears to be a bone shade. This is 20 years old and looking quite brownish How do I clean this ? It looks quite grungy.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Margaret,
      I’m not familiar with bone lampshades, so I don’t really have a good answer for you. Sorry!

  2. I try to clean a silk lamp shade that is made with a strong material like plastic ( I am not sure if it is plastic, but is hard) attached to the silk. I used a small piece of cotton with a little soap because looks like the spot was grease. Although the grease is gone, when the silk lamp shade was dried, there were some parts of the lamp that has marks along the area that was cleaned. How can I take this marks out? Thanks you.


    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Maria,
      Unfortunately, I don’t personally know of any way to remove water stains from silk once it’s been discolored. You might try contacting a local dry cleaner to ask for their advice. I hope you find a solution!

  3. Amanda Liphuyzen says:

    How do you remove fly spots of fabric lamp shades? Thanking you in advance

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Amanda,
      I’d just spot clean those with a damp cloth and a little soapy water. If the shade is silk or another non-washable fabric, use a sponge specifically known as a “dry cleaning sponge.”

  4. Denise Davies says:

    How do I clean the little beads hanging on my night stand lampshade without wetting the fabric?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I would just wipe them with a damp cloth.