How To Clean Lampshades of Any Kind

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Knowing how to clean lampshades is one of those finicky cleaning tasks that take your room from tidy to truly clean. Between grubby hands, household dust and pet hair, lampshades tend to get grimy.

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.

Another way lampshades are like jewelry: the good ones aren’t cheap. Some of the lampshades in my home cost more than the lamp they’re on, so I work hard to keep them clean. It’s fun having a stash of like-new lampshades to choose from when I find an awesome lamp at the thrift shop that I want to rehab.

How To Clean Lamp Shades

Keep your lampshades clean and get rid of stains to help them last longer. You’ll improve your lighting’s efficiency, too.

Fabric Lamp Shades

  1. Turn the lamp off and let it cool. Take off the shade.
  2. Remove as must dust as possible. If the material is sturdy, you can use your vacuum cleaner and the soft brush attachment to do this. Otherwise, use a clean lint roller or paintbrush and long, vertical motions to sweep dust off the lampshade from top to bottom. Paintbrushes work particularly well for pleated fabric shades.
  3. If the fabric is glued on, you can immerse the entire lampshade in a tub of cold, soapy water and swirl it to remove additional dirt. Do NOT let it soak! Rinse thoroughly, using only cold water, pat it dry and allow it to continue air-drying before returning it to the lamp base.
  4. 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. Turn the lamp off and let it cool.
  2. Remove the dust. Since these materials cannot be immersed in water, you will need to dust them well with a microfiber cloth. If the dye is colorfast (spot test on an inner rim to find out), you can lightly dampen the cloth and wipe away additional grime.
  3. Remove greasy stains by firmly pressing a piece of crustless white bread against the spot. Rotate the bread to a clean area then dab again 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 it in a sink of warm, soapy water. 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. 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

Between deeper cleanings, dusting lampshades when you clean the room. Run a lint roller over them as needed to remove pet hair and debris. Regardless of the type of lampshade, you should deep clean them once each season.

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How to Clean Lampshades

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  1. Is there any way to wash fabric lampshades that are lined? Neither the outer fabric or the lining are attached to anything but the frame top and bottom. It looks like the “seam” coverings may be glued onto outer fabric. See photos if I can figure out how to upload them. lol)

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I wouldn’t recommend washing them because the water may dissolve the glue. But you could probably lightly sponge clean them.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.”

  5. 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.

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