How to Clean Lampshades

by Christine

Whether you use custom designer lighting or bought your lamps online, the lampshades will need a clean every now and then. If left alone, your lampshades will deteriorate and start to look worn.

You will need to use a different cleaning method depending on the material your lampshade is made from. Usually there are two steps to cleaning your lampshade: you first clean off the dust and hair that have accumulated on it and after that you wash the lampshade using whatever method fits the material best.

We will explain the differences between some of the more common lampshade materials and how you can best clean them. Be sure to do this every couple of weeks to ensure that your lampshades still look brand-new after several years.

Fabric Lampshades

Removing Hair and Dust

A typical hairdryer is one of the simplest methods for removing hair and dust from your fabric lampshade. Keep it around 8-10 inches away from the lampshade and use the highest setting available on it. Holding it any closer than this might cause permanent damage to the fabric lampshade.

Another option would be to use sticky tape to gently remove the hair and dust. You must be very careful when using tape. If you are too vigorous, you might damage the fabric.

Removing Small Stains

Small stains, such as handprints or crumb residue, aren’t too difficult to remove from a fabric lampshade. You can use wet wipes or baby wipes to gently remove these stains.

When you do this, be sure to hold the lampshade by the fitting inside. This way, you won’t leave more fingerprints right after you clean it.

Removing Heavier Stains

If you notice some stains are not coming off with the wet wipes, you will need to wash it more thoroughly. The best method is to prepare a bath with slightly above lukewarm water. Use a light fabric softener in it and gently clean your lampshade.

Afterwards, refill your bath with plain, lukewarm water and rinse the softener out of your lampshade. Leave the lampshade to dry out.

Plastic Lampshades

Removing Hair and Dust

When it comes to plastic lampshades, you’ve probably got one of the easiest jobs ahead of you. You can remove hair and dust with a damp cloth. Just wipe over the entire surface and you’re done!

Removing Any Kind of Stain

Most stains on a plastic lampshade will come off with the hair and dust. However, for the ones that do not, you can remove them by washing it in the sink. Add soap to lukewarm water and wash the lampshade in it for a while.

Be sure to rinse the plastic lampshade after you’ve made sure all the stains are gone.

Glass Lampshades


Using a Dishwasher

Glass lampshades are a little more complex yet easier to deal with. You can actually place your glass lampshade in the dishwasher to get rid of dust, hair and most stains.

You can even wash your glass lampshade along with your dishes! However, if you do this, make sure to rinse off all of those dishes first. If you place dishes with bits of food on them, your glass lampshade may end up dirtier than before.

Using a Bath

If you don’t have a dishwasher or would rather wash your glass lampshade by hand, you can use a bathing method similar to the one we used for the fabric lampshade.

You can use liquid soap instead of fabric softener. If the glass lampshade is particularly dirty, you may also want to add some white vinegar to the bath.

When you’re done, rinse the glass lampshade in clean, lukewarm water. Be sure to keep your hands off the glass so that you don’t replace the fingerprints that you just cleaned up.

Paper Lampshades


Removing Hair and Dust

Before you do anything with your paper lampshade, find out if the dye is colorfast. If your paper lampshade dye is colorfast, you may use a slightly damp cloth to clean it.

However, if it isn’t, you must not place anything damp on it. Doing so would cause the dye to run and you’d be left with a discolored lampshade.

Even if your paper lampshade isn’t colorfast, it should be easy enough to remove hair and dust from it with a dry cloth.

Why You Shouldn’t Try to Wash Your Paper Lampshade

Obviously, you can’t wash your paper lampshade in the dishwasher, sink or bath. Doing so would damage the lampshade beyond repair.

If you do find stains on your paper lampshade that won’t come off with a dry cloth, you have one last option. Place a piece of dry bread crust over the area and twist it in. If the stain is mostly grease, you may just save your paper lampshade.

If the bread crust doesn’t remove the stain, you shouldn’t try anything stronger or else your lampshade will likely be ruined. You can either dye your paper lampshade or leave it as it is - the choice is yours.

Take Care with Antique Lampshades

Antique lampshades tend to be made of glass. This is because glass lasts far longer than the other materials from which lampstands are made.

You should never use products on an antique lampshade. Even if that lampshade has survived the test of time, you don’t want to risk damaging it after so long.

You will find that you can clean your antique lampshade with nothing more than a soft, damp cloth. Even with such simple measures, make sure you don’t press down too hard on the antique lampshade. It is better to be safe than sorry with something of that value.

Don’t Get Lazy!

A neglected lampshade will start deteriorating after a month or so. The change won’t occur overnight, but it will happen.

Make sure that you perform the above maintenance on your lampshade every fortnight. It won’t hurt to wait even three weeks, but it is best to keep it clean every two weeks for safety and longevity.

Make sure to follow our cleaning advice and warnings when you next clean your lampshade. Doing so will keep your lampshade looking perfect and save you the cost of replacing it in the event that it started to wear down.

A few minutes of cleaning every couple of weeks is better than forking out cash every couple of months, I'm sure you'd agree!

If you are thinking of an upgrade on your existing lamps why not check out our wall lamps or living room lighting catalogue here