How to Clean Lamp Shades: Different Types & Issues

Published September 29, 2020
woman using duster to dust kitchen lamp ahdes

The right lamp shade can brighten up your room, but not if it's dirty. Use this guide to learn how to clean a lamp shade, whether it's fabric or paper. Get the lowdown for how to clean all the lamp shades in your home.

How to Clean Fabric or Linen Lamp Shades

Fabric or linen lamp shades are one of the easier lamp shades to get clean. Learn how to clean linen lamp shades in a snap.

cloth lampshades


  • Laundry soap

  • Vacuum with hose attachment

  • Microfiber cloth

  • Toothbrush

  • Baking soda

Steps to Cleaning a Fabric or Linen Lamp Shade

  1. Remove the shade from an unplugged lamp. (You can typically do this by removing the screw from the top).

  2. Inspect the shade to make sure no areas are glued together. (If glued, do not submerge in water).

  3. Use the microfiber cloth or vacuum cleaner to remove loose dirt.

  4. Remove any decorative pieces and wipe them down separately.

  5. Fill your tub about halfway with warm water.

  6. Add a teaspoon of laundry detergent and agitate.

  7. Submerge the shade in the water and allow it to soak for 15-30 minutes.

  8. Rotate the shade, so the other end soaks.

  9. Use the microfiber cloth to scrub at any dingy areas.

  10. For stains, grab a toothbrush and load it with a bit of baking soda.

  11. Scrub at the stain until lifted.

  12. Follow the directions of the other half of the shade.

  13. Drain the water and rinse the shade in clean water.

  14. Shake the lamp shade and set it out in the sun to dry.

How to Clean Lamp Shade Made of Paper or Fiber

A lamp shade made of fiber or paper needs a delicate touch. For this material, stay clear of water or soap. Instead, use a microfiber cloth for your cleaning needs.

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Supply List

  • Vacuum with attachment

  • Microfiber cloth

  • Feather duster

  • Bread

  • Glove optional

How to Clean a Paper Lamp Shade

  1. Remove the shade from an unplugged lamp. For parchment shades, consider wearing gloves to remove.

  2. For durable lamp shades, use the vacuum cleaner to remove dust.

  3. Use a lightly damp microfiber cloth to remove any stubborn dust or debris.

  4. For delicate materials, dust with a feather duster or microfiber cloth.

  5. Brush from the top of the lamp shade to the bottom.

  6. Remove grease stains by pressing plain bread on the area.

  7. Place it back on the lamp.

How to Clean Plastic or Glass Lamp Shades

Plastic and glass shades aren't as delicate as their paper counterparts, but they still need to be handled with care. Find out how to clean a lamp shade made of glass and plastic.

plastic lamp shade

Materials to Gather

  • Microfiber cloth

  • Dish soap

  • Vacuum or lint roller

  • White vinegar

  • Glass cleaner

Cleaning a Plastic or Glass Shade Steps

  1. After removing the shade, use the vacuum or lint roller to remove loose dust.

  2. Mix a few drops of dish soap in a bowl with water.

  3. Dip the microfiber cloth in the mixture and wipe down the shade inside and out.

  4. For stubborn stains, mix a 1:1 white vinegar and water mixture. Apply to stain and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

  5. Use a damp cloth to rinse.

  6. Use a dry cloth to buff out the shade.

  7. Allow to dry and place it on the lamp.

Alternatively, you can spray a glass shade down with some glass cleaner and buff it with the microfiber cloth.

How to Clean a Silk Lamp Shade

Much like a paper lamp shade, cleaning a silk lamp shade takes special care. Therefore, you want to skip the vacuum and water cleaning methods. Additionally, if your silk lamp shade has stains or yellowing, rather than cleaning it yourself, take it to a professional dry cleaner.

What to Grab

  • Feather duster

  • Gloves

  • Microfiber cloth

How to Clean Lamp Shades Made of Silk

  1. Wear gloves to avoid getting oils on the silk.

  2. Use a feather duster to remove any loose dirt inside and out.

  3. Use the microfiber cloth to gently remove any stubborn areas.

How to Clean Lamp Shades With Pleats

Many times, lamp shades with pleats use glue to hold them together. Therefore, no matter what the material it is made of, you won't want to submerge it in water. However, pleated lamp shades made of durable materials do well from a light cleaning.

pleated lamp shade in corner

What You Need

  • Vacuum or lint roller

  • Hand mixer

  • Dish soap

  • Microfiber cloth

  • Bowl

Steps to Clean Lamp Shades With Pleats

  1. Unplug your lamp and remove the shade.

  2. Use the lint roller or vacuum to remove dust and dirt.

  3. Mix warm water and dish soap in a bowl with a hand mixer to create suds.

  4. Dampen a microfiber cloth. (Remove any excess water.)

  5. Grab a fair amount of suds and scrub down the shade.

  6. Allow to air dry.

How to Remove Nicotine Stains From Lamp Shades

Nicotine stains on your lamp shades can be a nightmare to remove. But it's not impossible to remove nicotine stains from most materials but paper. Paper lamp shades with nicotine stains, unfortunately, need to be put in the garbage bin. Additionally, silk shades need to go to a professional dry cleaner.

  • Fabric lamp shades: Add a cup of white vinegar to the standard lamp shade bath.

  • Plastic lamp shades: Create a mixture of 50/50 vinegar to water and spray down the shade. Repeat until stains are gone.

How to Clean Old Yellow Lamp Shades

When your fabric lamp shade starts looking yellow and dingy, you can bring renewed life to it by adding a teaspoon of oxygen bleach to the lamp bath. This works to brighten lamp shades of all different types of colors.

  • Additionally, use a laundry detergent that already contains an oxygen bleaching agent.

  • Another method to try for white cloth lamp shades is adding ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide to tub water.

Weekly Maintenance of Lamp Shades

Following a weekly cleaning schedule that includes dusting your lamp shades can ensure your lamp shades look fresh and new. However, if you start to notice your lamp shades need a little TLC, now you know what to do.

How to Clean Lamp Shades: Different Types & Issues