How to Clean a Lampshade

Breathe new life into an old lampshade by learning how to remove dust and stains from various materials.

By Deirdre Mundorf | Published Aug 25, 2022 3:56 PM

how to clean a lampshade

Photo: istockphoto.com

Keeping your home dust-free is sometimes easier said than done. Unfortunately, dust collects everywhere, not just on easy-to-clean horizontal surfaces. It can also collect, for example, on lampshades. With their more delicate construction, lampshades can be more challenging to clean than other items around the house. However, with the right tools, materials, and a bit of care, you can remove dust and other stains from your lampshades to make them look new again.

Read on to learn how to clean a lampshade—including ones made from fabric, paper, natural fiber, and glass.

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How to Clean a Fabric Lampshade

how to clean a lampshade

Photo: istockphoto.com

With different types of fabric lampshades available, the specific steps for cleaning can vary some. Cotton or canvas lampshades are more durable and can be cleaned using the steps outlined below.

However, if you have a silk lampshade, it should not be submerged in water, as suggested below. Rather, gently clean your silk lampshade using a feather duster. To remove stains from a silk lampshade, take it to a professional for dry cleaning.

Regardless of the specific fabric your lampshade is made of, always check to see if the manufacturer provided cleaning instructions. If so, follow those directions rather than what’s shared below.

SUPPLIES

Microfiber duster
Soft-bristled paint brush
Gentle detergent or detergent with oxygen bleach
Microfiber cloth
Towel

STEP 1: Remove loose dust from the lampshade.

Before removing a fabric lampshade from its base, begin by dusting the lampshade. Soft microfiber dusters, lint rollers, or a vacuum with an upholstery brush all work well for dusting a fabric lampshade. If your lampshade is pleated, try using a paint brush with soft bristles to remove dust from the tighter crevices between the pleats.

STEP 2: Fill a bathtub or large basin with water and gentle soap.

If dusting the lampshade isn’t sufficient, you can give it a deeper cleaning in a bathtub, sink, or basin. To prepare a lampshade soaking solution, fill the basin with lukewarm water. You want the solution to be deep enough to fully submerge the lampshade, or at least half of it. Choose a detergent suitable for delicate fabrics. If your once-white shade is yellowed or has stains, you could also opt for a detergent formulated with oxygen bleach to make your lampshade white again.

STEP 3: Remove the shade from the lamp and soak it in the cleaning solution.

Unplug the table or floor lamp and remove the shade. Carefully dip the shade down into the bathtub or basin. Soak the shade for 10 minutes, or longer if more time is needed to let each section soak.

STEP 4: Gently wipe the lampshade with a microfiber cloth.

With the lampshade still submerged in the water, gently wipe it using a soft microfiber cloth. If needed, add a small amount of detergent to the cloth to remove any stains that may still be present.

STEP 5: Rinse the lampshade.

Remove the lampshade from the basin and dump or drain the water. Rinse out any remaining soap, and refill the basin with clean, lukewarm water. Gently move the lampshade through the clean water to remove any soap residue. You may need to repeat these steps a few times to remove all of the residue.

STEP 6: Allow it to dry fully.

Gently shake off any excess water from the lampshade and set it on a clean towel to dry. Do not place the shade back on the lamp until it has dried completely—which could take a day or longer.

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How to Clean a Paper Lampshade

how to clean a lampshade

Photo: etsy.com

Unlike fabric, paper lampshades cannot be submerged in water. However, skin oils and residues from cleaning products or personal care items can leave stains or marks on a paper lampshade, so it’s a good idea to wear gloves when cleaning a paper lampshade.

SUPPLIES

Rubber gloves or cotton gloves
Microfiber cloth
Gum eraser

STEP 1: Dust the lampshade using a dry microfiber cloth.

After removing the lampshade from the base, use a clean and dry microfiber cloth to dust it. Work gently, first wiping down the inside of the shade, then the outside. As needed, switch to a clean area of the cloth or grab a new cloth to avoid re-introducing the removed dust.

STEP 2: Gently remove stains from the shade.

An art gum eraser, or even a piece of crustless white bread, can help remove stains from a paper lampshade. Avoid pressing too hard on the shade, and use your other hand to prevent the shade from getting bent or dented as you work.

STEP 3: Return the shade to the lamp.

After removing stains, return the shade back to its base. Alternatively, if the paper shade has seen better days, you can also consider recovering it with a new paper or fabric shade to update the look of your lamp.

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How to Clean a Natural Fiber Lampshade

how to clean a lampshade

Photo: istockphoto.com

The lampshade cleaning process for natural fibers—such as wicker, rattan, and jute—differs from the steps outlined above for paper and fabric shades. Too much moisture can damage or leave stains on these fibers, but they can be carefully cleaned with a liquid solution.

SUPPLIES

Microfiber cloth
Soft-bristled paint brush
Small bucket or mixing bowl
Gentle dish soap or distilled white vinegar
Hair dryer

STEP 1: Dust the lampshade with a microfiber cloth or soft brush.

Begin by removing as much surface dust as possible from the shade. A microfiber cloth or duster will remove a lot of dust, but a soft-bristled paintbrush may be necessary to tack the dust in some of the tighter crevices, particularly on wicker or rattan shades.

STEP 2: Prepare a cleaning solution.

Prepare a cleaning solution using warm water and a gentle dish soap in a small bucket or mixing bowl. Alternatively, you can also make a cleaning solution using one part distilled vinegar and one part water.

STEP 3: Gently clean the lampshade using a microfiber towel and soft brush.

Dip a clean microfiber towel into the cleaning solution. Gently wipe the lampshade using the towel. For the smaller crevices, try dipping the small soft-bristled paintbrush in the solution and using it to remove dust and grime.

STEP 4: Dry the lampshade.

Use a dry microfiber cloth to remove as much moisture as possible from the lampshade. Because moisture can damage or stain natural fibers, try finishing up with a blow-dryer to further dry the shade. Make sure that the shade is completely dry before placing it back on the lamp base. It may be a good idea to let it sit out for an additional day, even if it feels dry.

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How to Clean a Glass Lampshade

how to clean a lampshade

Photo: istockphoto.com

Cleaning a glass lampshade can make it look new again. Fortunately, glass is easy to clean using soap and warm water. While it may be tempting to wash a glass lampshade in the dishwasher, doing so is not advisable. The heat from a dishwasher combined with the stronger detergent could cause damage.

SUPPLIES

Microfiber cloth
Gentle dish soap
Sponge
Towel

STEP 1: Remove the lampshade and wait for it to cool completely.

Unplug the floor or table lamp from the wall. If the bulb has recently been on and the shade is hot or warm, allow it to cool completely so you don’t burn yourself or crack the shade. Once cool, remove the glass shade from the lamp.

STEP 2: Dust the inside and outside of the shade.

Using a dry microfiber cloth, remove as much dust as possible from both the inside and outside of the glass shade.

STEP 3: Wash it in warm, soapy water.

In a large basin or sink, add warm water and a small amount of gentle dish soap. Use a sponge or a clean microfiber cloth to gently wash all surfaces of the glass. Avoid the use of any abrasive soaps or scrub pads to protect any designs on the glass and to avoid scratching it.

STEP 4: Rinse the lampshade and allow it to dry.

Use lukewarm water to rinse all of the soapy residue off of the shade. After rinsing, dry the shade using a clean and dry microfiber cloth. Place the shade on a clean towel to ensure it is fully dry before returning it to the lamp base.

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Final Thoughts

Cleaning lampshades doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Following the steps outlined above will help you properly and safely clean your fabric, paper, natural fiber, or glass lampshades. While shopping at one of the best online lighting stores for new shades may be fun, you’ll be able to keep your current lampshade and save that money for better purposes. Once you’ve cleaned and restored them, keep your lampshades dust-free by wiping them with a microfiber duster once a week.