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How To Clean Lamp Shades

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Even light bulbs wear fashion—not only to add a statement to where it is but also to disperse their light using a lampshade. Cleaning them the wrong way may ruin the material, and you wouldn't want that since they don't come cheap. Don't worry! We've consulted the experts on how to clean your lampshades correctly. 

For lampshades that aren't water-resistant, like fiber or paper: you need to dust them off using a brush. For lampshades that can get wet, you can wash them directly with water or wipe them using a clean cloth damped in soapy water. 

We know you're still wondering what exactly to do. That's why we'll dive deeper and give you the complete guide, which you can follow easily, including the list of necessary equipment and the detailed steps to remove a stain. Let's get started!

Retro style wooden desk lamps with many lampshade colors decorated in bedroom, How To Clean Lamp Shades

Lampshade Cleaning Procedure

We've put together the best methods for cleaning your lampshades. We've organized them by material to help you find the best way to clean yours without damaging the material. Make sure to unplug the lamp before you start cleaning!

How To Clean Lamp Shades With Pleats

Table lamp with pleated linen shade. Paint texture of wall visible.

The majority of the pleated lampshades can not get wet. But that doesn't mean the option goes down only to brushes to remove the dust. Below are methods you can try, whichever material you have. 

Materials/Tools To Prepare:

  • Paintbrush
  • Lint brush
  • Upholstery brush
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Water
  • Detergent
  • Cloth
  • Bowl
  • Hairdryer

Using A Brush

  • Paintbrush - Gently sweep the dust from top to bottom and between ridges. 
  • Lint brush - Glide the lint brush on the surface to collect the dust. Remove the pile of debris when needed. 
  • Upholstery brush - Remove the dirt by attaching an upholstery brush to a handheld vacuum. Use a gentle touch to prevent damage.

Using A Hair Dryer

Set the dryer to a cool setting. Keep 12 to 14 inches away from the lampshade and blow the dust off the surface to prevent damage. This is also an effective way to remove hair strands. Be warned, though. Blowing dust inside your house can cause debris to float around, which may transfer to other appliances. 

How To Know If You Can Wash Pleated Lampshade

Some pleated lampshades are made with plastic instead fiber or paper. These ones, you can clean with water:

  1. Detach the shade before submerging it in a large basin or bathtub partly filled with water.
  2. Using a cloth with mild detergent, wipe off the dirt with minimal pressure.
  3. Rinse thoroughly. Do not squeeze the fabric. Instead, place it in a warm spot to dry faster before returning it.

How To Clean Glued Pleated Lampshade

  1. In a bowl, mix mild detergent and water.
  2. Immerse a clean cloth and squeeze until damp.
  3. Wipe the shade surface without getting it too wet since water can weaken the bond and detach it.
  4. Put it in a warm, clean spot to dry completely. 

How To Clean Linen Lamp Shades

modern bedroom with wood lamp at home

Linen lampshades require a delicate cleaning treatment. If you clean them regularly, you can use dry methods, but consider using wet cleaning if the dust is stacked up thickly already. 

Dry Method

  1. Suck the dust off the sides (especially the inner area) using a vacuum set in light power.
  2. Use a brush to sweep the particles. This method takes longer since you need to do it manually. 
  3. Use a detergent foam, and create bubbles by mixing detergent and water. Get a little amount of lather using a soft brush and gently rub it in the dirty area. Clean it off using a damp cloth and let it dry. 

Wet Method

  1. Detach the shade from the stem.
  2. Remove excess dust before washing.
  3. Fill a bathtub with water and detergent.
  4. Soak the lampshade entirely. If you can't submerge it completely, turn it around to reach different areas. 
  5. Rinse with lukewarm water until you see no soap left on the shade.
  6. Since you can't squeeze it, dry off the excess water using a clean towel before leaving it on a clean, dry spot. Let it finish drying by itself. 

How To Clean Paper Lamp Shades

Interior decoration paper lantern

Paper lampshades are porous, so you can't wash them. So here's what you should do:

  1. Unplug and remove the shade from the body. It makes cleaning easier.
  2. Put on gloves to prevent dirt or oil from transferring to your hands.
  3. Use a stiff brush or a fiber cloth to remove grime on the inner and outer surfaces.
  4. Use a vacuum or compressed air cans to reach corners you can't go to. Be careful not to tear the paper during the process.
  5. Attach the shade back cautiously on the lamp stem. 

How To Clean Glass Lamp Shades

Stained Glass Table Lamp

You can wash glass lampshades manually or in the dishwasher. If you want to do it yourself, clean it in a basin or sink using soapy water, then rinse. Wipe it dry with a clean cloth and take care not to drop it. Once dried, put it back with utmost care. 

How To Clean Plastic Lampshades

3d render of modern lamp

Cleaning plastic shades is easy to clean since it isn't delicate like fabric, paper, or fiber. 

  1. Unplug the lamp and let it cool before detaching the shade from it. 
  2. In a tub, blend a few drops of dishwashing liquid with water.
  3. Get a clean cloth and damp it in the sudsy water. Squeeze the excess liquid.
  4. Wipe off the dirt on the shade. Wash the fabric after some time with the same mixture and repeat the wiping. 
  5. Let the shade dry off completely and remove the remaining particles using a dry cloth.
  6. Put the shade back on the lamp. 

How Do You Remove Nicotine Stains From A Lampshade?

The yellow stain you sometimes find on lampshades is probably from dust or cigarettes. Smoke contains nicotine and tar that get absorbed by objects or walls. The process for removing it differs by type, and we've covered them all here.

Fabric Or Linen Shades

Try these methods for your lampshade:

  1. Use a steam-vacuum cleaner.
  2. Leave it under the sun. Sun performs photodegradation, where UV breaks down chemical bonds of stains, resulting in color fading. This method is also called sun bleaching. 
  3. Use a home dry cleaning kit. For this, do the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
  4. Wash the shade using water and detergent. 

Paper Shades

Sadly, removing a nicotine stain from your paper lampshade isn't possible since it can break by getting wet. An alternate solution is to repaint it with the same or different colors. 

Read lampshade decorating ideas here: 

How To Decorate A Lampshade [Best 4 Suggestions]

Glass Shades

Mix ¼ cup of vinegar with a gallon of water and use that to remove the nicotine stain after detaching the shade. Let it dry completely before returning. 

Plastic Shades

Remove plastic shades with a magic-eraser type pad or mild vinegar combined with water. Soak a sponge with the solution and use that to scrub off the stain. 

Learn more about shade discoloration here:

Why Does My White Lampshade Look Yellow? [And how to reverse the effect]

Dry Magic Lampshade Cleaner

Special cleaners, including those made for lampshades, are available on the market in case you aren't aware. They make cleaning easier without damaging your shade.

One excellent example of this is Sparkle Plenty's dry magic lampshade cleaner. It is used dry and is perfect for lampshades that cannot get wet. 

Click here to see this lampshade cleaner on Amazon.

How Long Do Lampshades Last?

Lampshades can last more than a decade. However, if damage occurs, it's best to ask an expert to replace the wiring or shades if you do not want to buy a new one. 

Can You Paint A Lampshade?

Metalwork craftsman making handmade lamp at workshop. Man worker painting of lampshade.

Yes. Many people choose to paint to redecorate damaged or old lampshades and give them a fresh look. You may use different types of paint depending on the material of your shade. 

  • Fabric - Use fabric paint or acrylic paint. It can endure the high temperature of a light bulb underneath the shade. 
  • Paper - Watercolor will work. Use bright colors for best results, but you might need to repaint since it can fade over time.
  • Glass - Use glass paint or a mixture of decoupage glue and color dye. 
  • Plastic - Acrylic paint or spray paint is your best bet. 

For lampshade decoration ideas, check out this post: How To Decorate A Lampshade [Best 4 Suggestions]

Keep The Light!

Vibrant blue painted wall with white home decor accents

After knowing how to clean your lampshade according to its type (washing, vacuuming, wiping, and more), removing stains, and paints you can use, make sure to clean it regularly yourself or with the help of an expert. By doing so, you can ensure that the lamp will shed bright light to keep your home away from the dark.