How to Clean a Lampshade the Right Way

Lamp with lampshade on table
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Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins - 3 hrs, 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Lampshades add both a decorative statement to a room and reduce the harsh glare of a naked bulb. Changing the shade can make a huge difference in how a lamp looks and adjust the lighting ambiance in a room. Since many lampshades can be pricey, you want to keep them clean and looking their best for as long as possible.

With just some basic supplies, you can clean fabric, paper, plastic, and glass lampshades easily in a few steps.

How Often to Clean Lampshades

Lampshades should be dusted every week. This will remove spiderwebs and keep dust from becoming too embedded in the lampshade material. The accumulation of dust, along with airborne grease, nicotine, and other air pollutants, can lead to a lampshade needing a deeper cleaning.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Lint roller
  • New, soft-bristled paintbrush
  • Vacuum with an upholstery brush
  • Large sink or bathtub
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Skirt hanger with clips
  • Cotton gloves
  • Art gum eraser

Materials

  • Disposable duster
  • Gentle detergent
  • Dishwashing liquid

Instructions

How to Clean Fabric Lampshades

  1. Remove Dust

    There are several ways to dust a fabric lampshade each week. Leaving the lampshade in place on the lamp, be sure to dust both the outside and inside of the shade. It's best to turn off the bulb before you begin.

    You can use a clean disposable duster, a microfiber cloth, a sticky lint roller, or the upholstery brush attachment on a vacuum. Use a gentle touch and avoid too much suction on decorative trim if using a vacuum. For pleated shades, a clean soft-bristled paintbrush works well to reach the dust in tight spots.

  2. Prepare a Cleaning Solution

    To remove heavier soil, fabric lampshades can be washed. If the shade has a care tag from the manufacturer, follow those guidelines. If not, try handwashing the shade. If possible, remove glued-on or sewn-on embellishments like beaded trim or tassels that may not hold up well when washed.

    Fill a large sink or bathtub with lukewarm water at least deep enough to cover half of the lampshade's height. Add one or two teaspoons of a gentle detergent like Woolite or Castile soap that you would use to wash lingerie or delicate fabrics. Swish your hands through the water to disperse the detergent.

  3. Wash the Lampshade

    Unplug the lamp and remove the shade from the base. This is particularly important for lamps like those from InPowered that have a light source in the base. Dust as usual to remove loose soil.

    Holding the lampshade by the top wire supports, lower the shade into the soapy solution. Let the shade soak for around 10 minutes. Rotate the shade, if needed, so that every surface has a chance to soak for the same amount of time.

    Dip a microfiber cloth in the soapy water and gently wipe down the lampshade from top to bottom on the inside and outside. If there are stains from food or insects, use just an extra drop of detergent on the cloth to wipe away those stains.

  4. Rinse the Lampshade

    Lift out the lampshade and drain the soapy water. Refill the tub with lukewarm clean water. Lower the shade back into the tub and gently swish it through the water to rinse away any soapy residue. Drain the water and repeat with fresh water if too many suds are still appearing.

  5. Dry the Lampshade

    Drain the rinse water and gently shake the lampshade to release as much water as possible. Set the lampshade upright on a thick towel to dry. Or, use a skirt hanger with adjustable clips to hang the shade from a clothesline or shower rod to drip dry.

  6. Reattach the Lampshade

    The lampshade must be completely dry before reattaching it to the lamp base.

How to Clean Paper Lampshades

Paper and parchment lampshades are easily soiled by the oils on our hands or residue from hand lotions or cleaning products. When handling a paper shade, wear cotton or rubber gloves to help prevent stains.

  1. Remove Dust

    In addition to routine dusting, regularly remove the paper lampshade from the base and gently wipe it down from the top to the bottom with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. Do the inside and outside of the shade. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the dust is transferred.

  2. Remove Stains

    If there are insect specks or other stains, use an art gum eraser to rub them away. Always use a light touch and support the lampshade with your other hand to prevent dents.

How to Clean Plastic and Glass Lampshades

  1. Remove the Lampshade

    Unplug the lamp and remove the plastic or glass shade. Always make sure the shade is completely cool before proceeding with the cleaning steps. A dramatic temperature change when washing could cause cracking.

  2. Remove Dust

    Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe away loose dust from the inside and outside of the lampshade.

  3. Handwash the Lampshade

    Fill a large sink with lukewarm water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Gently handwash the inside and outside of the lampshade with a microfiber cloth or sponge. Do not scrub or use abrasive cleaners on the shade to avoid scratching or damage to a printed design.

    Warning

    Never place a lampshade in the dishwasher. Excessive heat and the harshness of the dishwasher detergent could damage the lampshade.

  4. Rinse and Dry

    Rinse the lampshade well in lukewarm water. Use a dry microfiber cloth to dry the shade. Replace it on the lamp base when completely dry.