How To Clean Lamp Shades

Here’s how to clean lamp shades including techniques for cleaning different types of shades like fabric, plastic, and silk with more tips on products to avoid. 
Woman cleaning the lamp at home

Keeping a home clean sounds like an easy routine task but there are a few things that can fall through the cracks if you don’t put in some extra attention.

One such example would have to be the lampshades. They can be tricky to clean and most people will at times struggle at how to clean them, but they do need to be cleaned. They have the tendency to accumulate dust and can even at times get yellowish over time.

Although a little tricky, it isn’t that difficult. There’s a special way to clean lamp shades of different sizes, materials, and shapes – and this is your all-in guide on how to get that done. Read on below to check how you will be able to properly clean your specific lamp shades at home.[toc]

Cleaning Lampshades

Here are the ways on how to clean different types of lamp shades.


Modern bedroom interior with white and brown pillow on bed and decorative table lamp

If you’ve initially guessed that cleaning fabric lamp shades are difficult to do, you are actually quite right. They’re time consuming and require a lot of effort but once accomplished, it can be well worth it at the end of the day.

Here are the different steps to clean your fabric lamp shades. 

1. Read the manual or the care tags in case the manufacturers indicated any special handling with the material such as if there are any specific products to avoid, and so on.

2. Make sure that the lamp is unplugged and that the shade is removed.

3. Remove the dust from the shade with either a vacuum with an upholstery attachment or if you don’t have a vacuum, you may use a dry microfiber cloth.

4. Next, you need to find a container large enough for you to fill with water and allow you to submerge at least half of the lampshade in it. The bathtub is usually the easiest fix for this.

5. Put in a few drops of your cleaning agent: it’s recommended to either use some dishwashing liquid or some form of liquid laundry detergent.

6. Get the soap suds activated by churning the water with your hands and add more soap accordingly if you feel like it’s needed.

7. Soak your lamp shade into the water, paying attention to the soiled parts, and turn it in the water until all sides are soaked. Make sure that the lamp shade is properly soaked in water for at least 10 minutes.

8. Once soaked, use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe down your lamp shade using the soapy water from top to bottom.

9. Drain the container and make sure that you refill with warm water only.

10. Make sure that you rinse out all the soap from the lamp shade, turn it around, until all traces of soap has been removed.  You can do this multiple times, if necessary.

11. Drain the container again and shake off as much water from the lamp shade as possible.

12. Set the lamp shade to drip dry on a piece of towel. You may also opt to set it on the floor or outside and dry it with the use of a hairdryer set on a low setting to dry the fabric faster. Pay attention to any trace amounts of water before you plug the hairdryer in.

Once the lamp shade has dried completely, you may now reattach the lamp shade to the lamp base. Here’s another related guide on how to clean a fabric sofa for additional cleaning tips.


Mirror frame with colorful lampshade

Cleaning plastic lamp shades is really easy because the material is durable and more so, it isn’t as delicate as the other materials that typical lamp shades are made out of. Here are the steps to properly clean them.

As always, safety first. Make sure that the lamp shade is unplugged and that the shade is removed from its base.

Remove the dust from the shade with the use of a microfiber cloth or with the use of a vacuum.

Combine a little bit of water with a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap.

Dampen the microfiber cloth with the soapy water and wipe the shade clean with it.

Let the shade dry completely once you’re done cleaning it and make sure to buff out any scuffs or streaks with a dry microfiber cloth before putting it back in place.


White flooring lamp standing against empty and copy space background wall

Pleated lamp shades can be very elegant and beautiful compared to how an ordinary lamp shade looks. A dusty pleated lamp shade, however, can ruin the overall look of your home.

Dusty shades requires a little bit of effort and ingenuity to properly clean your pleated lamp shades properly and here are the steps needed in order for you to get it done.

To start, unplug the lamp shade and remove it from its base.

With the use of a small paintbrush which you can easily get from a hardware store, lightly brush downwards, cleaning the lamp shade one pleated ridge at a time.

If you have a lint brush available, run it across the pleated surfaces of the shade to pick the lint off of the fabric. Another option is for you to loop a strand of packing tape around your hand so that you can use its adhesive in lieu of the lint brush.

Use a hairdryer set at the lowest and coolest setting, held 12 to 14 inches away from the shade’s surface. Move it back and forth so that you can blow away any debris that has been stuck to the fabric. An alternative to this is to use an air compressor.

The next step is to attach an upholstery brush to a vacuum. Rub it back and forth in very light strokes all across the lamp shade’s surface.

Also pay attention to how the lamp shade has been manufactured. If it’s sewn to the surface, you can actually get it immersed in water to get it cleaned. 

Fill a container with soapy water, place the shade in it, and gently wipe the surface from top to bottom with the use of a microfiber cloth. Rinse all the soap out from the shade’s fabric, and then allow it to either sit out in the sun or dry it off with a hairdryer before putting it back on the lamp shade base.

If the seams have parts that are glued on, it is best not to get the shade submerged in water. Instead, use the soap froth from some water and mild detergent whipped up by hand or with a hand mixer. 

Apply the “froth” produced with a slightly dampened cloth and wipe the surfaces down. Be sure not to overdo it. Wetting the surfaces too much could lead to the corrosion of the glue being used to hold the lamp shade seams together.


Luxury living room with elegant sofa and set of pillows in classic house style

Obviously, parchment or paper lamp shades should be handled differently. They shouldn’t be submerged in water at all. Getting this type of lamp shade wet could lead to getting the glued seams and other embellishments wet and this can corrode the adhesive. This material needs special treatment and here are the steps.

Put on some gloves before cleaning parchment lamp shades. This material is sensitive and the oil from your hands can stain it and potentially ruin it.

Make sure the lamp shade is unplugged and the shade has been removed from its base.

Remove the dust from the lamp shade with the use of a vacuum or a piece of dry microfiber cloth.

There’s another life hack for cleaning parchment lamp shades: using a piece of white bread! Make sure that the piece of bread is completely dry and that it’s used in place of the dry microfiber cloth should you opt to use this life hack.


Bedroom view with bedside table decorations and lamp on top

Silk lamp shades require special care right off the bat because of how delicate the material is. This doesn’t mean that you can’t clean them thoroughly though.

The secret to cleaning your silk lamp shades without damaging them is to handle them gently and with proper care. 

You will also need special tools when it comes to cleaning your silk lamp shades.

Materials needed to clean a silk lamp shade:

• Static duster

• Mild dish soap that’s dye-free (the preferred brand is Ivory)

• Lint-free microfiber cloth, preferably white

• Dry cleaning stick

Here are the steps:

1. Remove any excess dust or debris by dusting the lampshade thoroughly with the use of either a static duster or a dry microfiber cloth.

2. Fill a large container with water and put in a few drops of mild dish soap.

3. Dip the fabric only parts of the lamp shade in water, swishing and rotating it. Do not immerse the entire lamp shade in water.

4. Dip your microfiber cloth in the water and clean the lamp shade by wiping it in sections from top to bottom.

5. Drain the container.

6. Rinse the soapy water from the lamp shade with the use of some lukewarm water. Don’t rinse it directly from the tap. Instead, do it in small and incremental amounts with the use of a small cup.

7. Blot out the excess water from the lamp shade with the use of a dry microfiber cloth.

8. Let the lamp shade sit on a well ventilated area or near a fan to allow it to air dry.

If there happens to be any stubborn stains on the lamp shade, wait for it to completely dry out first before you treat the stains with a dry cleaning stick.

Here are some extra tips when it comes to the handling and cleaning of your silk lamp shades at home:

Dry Cleaning

Maid in uniform cleaning torchere with duster

If you notice specifically strong staining and yellowing after getting it cleaned it home, you might want to consider bringing your lamp shade to a professional dry cleaner to restore it.

Products You Need to Avoid

Avoid using harsh stain-fighting products until they are proven or marketed to be safe enough to use on silk materials. And even then, make sure that you don’t go all in just yet.

Make it a point to test out a small section or area first just to see how it reacts to the material.

• Never use bleach of any kind to treat your silk lamp shades.

• Never use vacuums or lint rollers on silk lamp shades as they can pull on the delicate fabric too hard.

While cleaning the shades don’t forget to remove the dust and debris from the light bulbs, fitter, finial, and other fittings.

Protect the Silk

Apartment with white brick wall sofa table and pattern rug

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned your silk lamp shade, it helps to protect it further with a silk-safe fabric and upholstery protector such as Scotchgard.

This enables the fabric to be more water repellent in the event of spills and stains. It has a simple one-step spray-on application and usually dries up clear and odorless. 

This lets dust and other damaging oils and liquids roll right off of the silk lamp shade, allowing you the advantage of easier cleanup and maintenance.

It’s an extra step that requires extra costs but it’s something that’s well worth the expense as it means that you get to extend the life span of your silk lamp shades at home.

Did we leave out any important information, cleaning options or do you have additional questions? Please share your ideas and comments below.

For more light-related content, check out our picks for the best lights for reading at night and the types of lighting fixtures here.  

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