Closeup of a dirty paper lampshade

How To Clean Lampshades of Any Kind

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Lampshades get grimy from grubby hands, household dust, and pet hair. Cleaning them is one of those tasks that takes your home from being tidy to truly clean.

The thing is, lamps are like jewelry for your room: if they’re nice, they 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.

Before You Begin

Turn off and unplug the lamp: To avoid electrical shock, you should always unplug the lamp before cleaning the lamp shade.

Let the lampshade cool down: Lightbulbs sometimes emit heat which can make the lampshade fragile and interfere with the cleaning process. Wait until the shade is room temperature to begin.

Spot test first: Before applying a cleaning solution to the shade, spot test it in a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause damage or affect the color.

How to Clean Fabric Lampshades

Check the lampshade for a care label before proceeding. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

  1. Remove the lampshade once it is cool.
  2. Use a vacuum cleaner with the soft brush attachment to remove dust from sturdy fabrics.
  3. Fill a sink or tub with cool water and add 1 teaspoon of mild liquid dish soap or laundry detergent.
  4. Immerse the entire shade and swirl it to remove dirt, but do not let it soak or you may damage the adhesive.
  5. Rinse thoroughly and blot with an undyed towel, then let it air dry.
  6. Reinstall the lampshade once it is completely dry.

How to Clean Silk Lampshades

Silk is not a washable fabric. To clean silk lampshades, you must use dry methods.

  1. Use a clean lint roller or paintbrush and long, vertical motions to sweep off the dust from top to bottom.
  2. Dislodge stubborn dust in pleats by aiming a hair dryer at the crease. Turn the dryer to the cool setting. Use a brush to flick away loosened dust.
  3. Press a dry-cleaning sponge against stains to lift them off the fabric.
  4. Consult a professional dry cleaner for any stains you cannot remove at home.

How to Clean Rattan, Wicker, or Basket Lampshades

Do not wash lampshades made from woven materials like rattan and wicker, or they make shrink and lose their shape.

  1. Remove the shade from the lamp if possible.
  2. Dust the woven lampshade with a soft-bristled brush or use a vacuum cleaner’s brush attachment.
  3. Mix a spot-cleaning treatment of 2 cups warm water with 1/2 teaspoon of mild liquid dish soap in a bowl.
  4. Dip a soft cloth or cleaning sponge with the soapy water and wring it out well so that it is damp but not dripping.
  5. Wipe soiled areas with the damp cloth. You may also use an old toothbrush dipped in the soapy water and shaken out to clean between the woven fibers.
  6. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth to wipe away any soap residue.
  7. Blot with a clean, lint-free towel to remove remaining moisture then let it air dry completely before reinstalling the shade.

How to Clean Paper or Parchment Lampshades

Do not get paper or parchment lampshades wet. Wash your hands before cleaning them or wear rubber gloves so you don’t leave oily fingerprints.

  1. Dust the lampshade thoroughly with a dry microfiber cloth.
  2. Remove dirt by pressing a dry-cleaning sponge or piece of crustless white bread against the spot. Rotate it to a clean area and dab repeatedly until the stain disappears.
  3. For greasy spots on your lampshade, take it off the lamp and place it on a towel with the stained side facing up. Put a clean, undyed cloth behind the stained area, and sprinkle the spot with cornstarch or baking powder. Use another undyed cloth to press the powder into the stain. Hold it like this for 2-3 minutes to allow the powder to absorb the oil, and then brush it away.

How to Clean Plastic or Fiberglass Lampshades

Plastic and fiberglass lampshades are washable, but added embellishments may not be. If possible, remove fringe or tassels prior to cleaning. If they are not removable, clean the plastic areas using a damp cloth and take care not to wet the embellishments. Here’s how to clean plain plastic or fiberglass lampshades:

  1. Remove the shade and dust inside and out with a damp microfiber cloth.
  2. Wash the lampshade in a sink or bowl of warm water with a little dishwashing liquid. If the shade is greasy, add some white vinegar to the water.
  3. Rinse the lampshade thoroughly and dry it with a clean, lint-free towel.
  4. Reinstall the lampshade once it is completely dry.

How to Clean Glass Lampshades

  1. Remove the glass lampshade from the lamp.
  2. Wash standard glass lampshades in the dishwasher on the top rack using a regular cycle.
  3. Hand-wash embellished, painted or gilded glass lampshades. Gently wipe with a warm, soapy rag that you have wrung out well, and take care not to wet the embellished area. Pat dry with a clean, lint-free cloth.
  4. Reinstall the glass lampshade once it is completely dry.

Tips to Keep Them Clean

  • Dust regularly: Wiping your lampshades weekly with a clean, dry cloth or duster keeps dirt and grime from collecting.
  • Do not touch: To prevent the transfer of dirt or body oils, avoid touching lampshades when cleaning them or turning the light on or off. Wear rubber gloves while cleaning, or wash your hands first.
  • Deep clean lampshades seasonally: To keep your lampshades looking their best, clean them thoroughly once each season using the appropriate method.

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10 Comments

  1. Mike Tinkle says:

    The stains are from being in a smoking environment for many years (Probably more than 40 years). The shade material appears to be in good condition but I don’t know how to verify that without possibly damaging the shade. Purchased in Japan with lamps. Really like the oriental shades. They are some type of material but unsure what.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      They sound lovely, but the cleaning method to use varies based on the material. If you don’t know what it is, there’s no way to know what to use that won’t cause damage.

  2. 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.

  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. 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.

    Maria

    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!

  5. 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!

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