How To Clean Lampshades

Lampshades often get overlooked during routine cleaning, but they can attract dust and dirt that looks unsightly and affects the quality of light in your home. No matter what style or material lampshades you have, our Pros know the best ways to keep them clean. Follow our Pro tips for removing stains and marks from lampshades and add lampshade cleaning to your regular routine to keep your home looking fresh and bright.

Lampshades are commonly made out of just a few different materials, including:

  • Linen and similar fabrics
  • Silk
  • Paper
  • Glass
  • Plastic
Wet cleaning methods
Dry cleaning methods 
Dry cleaning stick
Dry cleaning sponge

    How To Clean Lampshades

    Before cleaning your lampshades

    You can dust a lampshade while it’s still in its normal position. Just turn off the lamp and let it cool first. However before you start intensive cleaning, make sure to do the following:

    • Unplug the lamp and allow it to cool completely
    • If possible, remove the lamp shade from the lamp
    • Handle fabric and paper lampshades while wearing gloves to prevent oil transfer from your hands

    Pro Tip: Once your lampshades are clean, learn how to clean window blinds too!

      How to clean linen lampshades

      If your lampshades are made of linen or other fabric, you should try to dry clean them whenever possible. This will prevent them from becoming water stained, or from the fabric wrinkling as it dries out.

      Clean your linen lampshades by dusting them regularly as part of your weekly cleaning routine. If you notice smudges or other dry stains, use a medium bristled brush to remove the marks. Use a flicking motion to sweep dirt away from your lampshade.

      If you have a wet or oil-based stain on your linen lampshade, do not brush it, as you’ll only smear the dirt and create a larger stain. Instead use a stain removal pen to treat the stained area only, and follow the directions on the pen to remove and blot the mark.

      You can use a DIY cleaning solution such as white vinegar, but spot-check an inconspicuous area first to see how the area dries. Unfortunately, tide marks and discoloration are common when cleaning these types of lampshades, so it may take a little trial and error to find the solution and method that works best for your shade.

      To tackle oily or greasy stains, apply baking soda to the stain and leave overnight before brushing free. The soda will absorb the oil and dry out the stain, making it easier to remove. You may have to repeat the application several times to get it all.

      How to clean a lampshades with pleats

      Pleated lampshades provide an extra challenge, because dust and dirt easily get trapped in the pleats, and they can be difficult to clean. These lampshades should be cleaned regularly with a feather duster or soft cloth in order to prevent buildup. This makes the job of deep cleaning them so much easier!

      If you spot any stains on lampshades with pleats, use a stain removal pen for light-colored lampshades or a damp cloth to remove any stubborn stains for dark lampshades. Any wrinkling of the fabric will be less noticeable on pleated lampshades, so you can remove stubborn stains with a firmer hand.

      Pro Tip: Use a dryer sheet to remove dust from pleated lampshades. The sheet attracts dust and makes it easier to get into all the nooks and crannies.

      How to clean paper lampshades

      Paper lampshades should also be kept dry during cleaning. Use a microfiber cloth to remove dust on a weekly basis, and tackle any stains using a gum eraser. These traditional artist’s erasers work very well on paper lampshades — after all, they’re designed for removing marks from paper! Just make sure to only use a white eraser, or an artist’s quality eraser, to avoid transferring marks from a colored eraser onto your lampshade. 

      If your paper lampshade has very tough stains, try using a Dry Magic lampshade cleaner, or any other dry cleaning sponge. A dry cleaning sponge is usually made of a porous material like vulcanized rubber that removes spots, dirt and stains without needing water. Don’t confuse these sponges with Magic Erasers. Magic Erasers are made from melamine foam and work like very fine sandpaper. Magic Erasers will likely damage the finish of your paper lampshade.

      If you do have to use liquid to clean your paper lampshade, apply it as sparingly as possible.

      How To Clean Lampshades

      How to clean silk lampshades

      Silk lampshades should be dry-cleaned when possible to avoid water marks and other types of stains. Silk lampshades are delicate, so they may not tolerate the same level of scrubbing that’s usually required for cleaning lampshades made from linen or paper. 

      Remove dust from your silk lampshades with a microfiber cloth or duster. If the lampshade is stained, you can try to remove dry marks with a soft bristled brush. Take care to be gentle on the fabric to avoid causing damage.

      To remove tough stains, try mixing a teaspoon of gentle detergent with a gallon of water, and carefully rinse the stained area. Flush with warm water and allow to air dry. Use a fan to speed up this process, and don’t let your lampshade remain damp for too long or it could attract mold.

      You can also try using dry cleaning sticks on your silk lampshade. Just check they’re suitable for the material before use.

      How To Clean Lampshades

      How to clean a glass lampshade

      Glass lampshades are more delicate than fabric, and come with a greater risk of breaking as you clean them, but they are easier to clean with a wide range of different cleaning solutions.

      To clean lampshades made of glass, wipe with a damp cloth or sponge and dry immediately to avoid leaving any streaks. You can use an all-purpose cleaner or a glass cleaner on lampshade frames and shades as needed. Just make sure it is approved for use on lampshades, as sometimes the heat from close contact with lightbulbs can create a reaction.

      If your glass lampshade cannot be removed, make extra sure to unplug the lamp and allow it to cool completely before cleaning. Never attempt to use a wet cleaning on a lamp that is still plugged in.

      Pro Tip: Get more glass cleaning tips! Learn how to clean a glass-top stove now!

      How to clean a water stained lampshade

      If you’re dealing with a paper or fabric lampshade that has water stains, the most important thing is to get it dry as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes for the lampshade to absorb water and wrinkles will start to form. The easiest way to do this is by placing it in front of a fan on a low setting. This will speed up the drying process and lessen the risk of wrinkling.

      To remove these types of stains, place a clean, white cotton towel or cloth over your lampshade from behind and soak up excess liquid from the lampshade material onto the towel or cloth. Once this is done, take a sponge or soft brush to wipe away any remaining wetness from the shade.

      Use baking soda or baby powder to absorb any remaining moisture. Sprinkle liberally over the damp patch and allow it to dry.

      If your fabric lampshade has water stains once it has dried, you need to apply water evenly across the whole shade in order to remove them. To do this, follow these steps:

      • Remove the shade from the lamp and, if possible, from its metal frame
      • Fill a bathtub or large bucket with warm water
      • Add about ¼ cup of detergent — just enough for it to start foaming when agitated
      • Fully submerge the shade
      • Remove any dirt or stains using a sponge
      • Rinse the lampshade with clear water
      • Pat dry to remove excess water
      • Reattach the shade to the frame (if removed), and allow to air dry completely

      The shade must be evenly wet and evenly dried. If you use a fan to speed drying, or put the shade in a sunny window, rotate it occasionally to keep the drying even. This will prevent the formation of new water marks.

      How To Clean Lampshades

      How to clean yellowing lampshades

      White fabrics tend to yellow as they age. For isolated areas of discoloration, use a stain removal pen to tackle the problem. For overall yellowing, follow the instructions above for removing water stains, but instead of detergent, use OxiClean in the water. If you don’t have OxiClean, you can also add ¼ cup baking soda instead to revive your white lampshades.

      Call in the Pros!

      At Pro Housekeepers, our Pros are expert at cleaning lampshades, no matter what material or type of stain. By following these Pro tips, you’ll be able to clean your lampshades in no time!

      If cleaning your lampshades is getting you down, call in an expert lampshade cleaning service like Pro Housekeepers instead.