How to Clean a Lampshade
Conquer dust buildup and unexpected stains on any lampshade in your home.
Lampshades are regularly overlooked during routine dusting and cleaning, but they can amass just as many cobwebs and layers of dust as the ignored shelf in the corner of your room. In short: If you haven’t remembered to clean your lampshades, you’re not alone. Let’s get this done.
Techniques for cleaning a lampshade vary by the material and how the shade is constructed, so be sure to consider if your lampshade is canvas, cotton, glass, parchment or another material.
Dust buildup and stains on your lampshades can be easy to tackle if you make cleaning a priority several times a year. Dusting will help reduce the number of insects or spiders that inevitably find comfort inside your warm light fixtures. Seeing spots? Dark speckles inside your lampshade are usually caused by bug feces. If left unmanaged, they can stain and discolor most fabric and plastic lampshades.
Dark speckles inside your lampshade are usually caused by bug feces. Clean them to avoid stains and discoloration of most fabric and plastic lampshades.
Techniques for cleaning a lampshade vary by the material and how the shade is constructed, so be sure to consider if your lampshade is canvas, cotton, glass, parchment or another material. This tutorial will help you keep your lampshade in great shape, but if your lampshade is delicate or uses adhesives used in construction, use judgment and avoid abrasive cleaners or water saturation.
Additionally, the shape of your shade and fabric pleating or embellishments should be considered when you’re choosing how to maintain and clean a lampshade. Pleated lampshades will hold more dust in their folds than a modern, smooth drum shade. When in doubt, start with gentle treatments that are less likely to damage adhesives or embellishments on the shade.
- lint roller
- soft-bristled brush or clean toothbrush
- clear liquid soap
- baking soda
- microfiber cloth
- upholstery vacuum attachment
1. Remove Lampshade from Base
Freeing it makes it easier to clean, regardless if it needs dusting or spot cleaning.
2. Remove Dust
Remove as much dust as you can find. In a manageable three-phase approach, start by collecting the dust on smooth surfaces with a clean, white, cotton cloth and a sticky lint roller.
Then, use a dry soft-bristled brush to further agitate and loosen dust. A clean, dry toothbrush or soft-bristled, new paintbrush makes it easier to clean between pleats or around delicate details or embellishments on the shade.
For tough dust buildup on a durable (not delicate) shade, you can also use an upholstery attachment from a vacuum cleaner to lift and remove dust.
3. Spot Clean
Once the dust is removed, it’s easier to spot-clean without risk of embedding surface dust into the fibers.
- If the inside of your lampshade is lined with plastic, you can use a lightly dampened cloth with clear liquid soap to cleanse any stains and marks on the plastic.
- For stains on fabric, use a clean toothbrush or soft-bristled brush dipped in soapy water and rub at the stain. Wipe away any soap with a damp cloth.
- If you have a glass lampshade, you can use ordinary glass cleaner and a dry cotton cloth to remove smudges and marks on the surface.
For most lampshades, the above steps are enough to manage dust and remove light stains. If you have a fabric lampshade with deeper discolorations, a soak in a deep tub can help.
4. Deep Clean in Some Cases
Deep cleaning a lampshade comes with some cautionary warnings: If your lampshade material is bonded to plastic using adhesives, avoid oversaturating it when you clean the lampshade. The moisture can disrupt lamination and cause the fabric to get loosened so that it’s no longer taut or fitted to the frame. You should also never submerge a paper lampshade in water. When in doubt, avoid this step.
If you are cleaning a durable fabric lampshade, you can actually submerge it into a soapy bathtub to evenly wash the surface. Here's how to do that.
- Fill your bathtub with warm water and enough liquid soap to create a small bubble bath.
- Plunge your lampshade directly into the tub and wiggle it around, rotating it so that you evenly saturate the fabric. The water and soap will loosen dirt and dust.
- Use a microfiber cloth to rub the surface of the shade. You can also use a clean toothbrush at this point to target spots.
- Drain and refill the tub with clean water. Rinse the lampshade by dunking it back into the clean water and rotating until it’s soap-free.
- Allow it to air dry in a clean place with plenty of airflow.