The only time most of us notice a lamp shade is when it is unique or noteworthy—or dirty and stained. If you haven’t taken a good look at your lamp shades lately, you might not notice how dingy or dirty they’ve become because you see them every day. But if your lamp shades are yellowing, stained, or tattered, you can bet they stand out like a sore thumb to visitors. That’s right: it’s time to clean them.

But who knows how to clean lamp shades? We do—and soon you will, too!

Whether your lamp shades are made from fabric, paper, or other popular materials, we’ve got you covered. We’re going to teach you how to clean fabric lamp shades and get rid of the pet hair, dust, spots, and dinginess that can make them such an eyesore. Before we get into it, though, go ahead and add “lamp shade cleaning” to your regular cleaning list. Once you get them clean again, all you have to do is dust your lamp shades each week with a lint roller or microfiber cloth to keep them looking good.

How to Clean Fabric Lamp Shades

No matter what kind of lamp shade you’re cleaning, remove it before you clean it! Water and cleaning solutions can harm lamp finishes and there’s always the risk of getting a shock. Before you give your lamp shade a bath, determine if it is stitched or glued at the seams, and see where trim and embellishments attach. If they are stitched, you’re good to go, but cleaning lamp shades constructed with glue by submerging them in water can ruin them. With that said, if it comes down to getting the shades wet or replacing them, you can try this method as a last resort. 

  • Fill your sink with enough warm water to submerge the lamp shade and add some dish soap.
  • If your lamp shade is yellowing, add a few teaspoons of baking soda.
  • Let it soak for 10 minutes.
  • Gently use a soft sponge to clean the lamp shade with soapy water.
  • For sturdy fabrics, you can use a toothbrush and baking soda for stubborn spots.
  • Rinse the lamp shade thoroughly to remove residue and dirt and let it air dry. 

For glued lamp shades and delicate fabrics like silk and linen, it’s best to use a wet cloth and Ivory soap. Start by dusting your lamp shade or using compressed air to blow off dirt and dust. Dip a bar of Ivory soap in a cup of water and swish it around to create soapy water. Dip a microfiber cloth into the cleaner and gently wipe down the inside and outside of your lamp shade. Remember—avoid getting the shade too wet. Wipe off the soapy residue with a clean, damp cloth and let the lamp shade air dry. 

How to Clean Lamp Shades Made From Paper or Parchment

Getting stains off paper lamp shades can be tough, as paper, parchment, and other non-fabric lamp shades don’t hold up well to wet cleaning. Too often, cleaning a stain on paper can leave an obviously lighter area where you cleaned, so be prepared to clean the whole shade if you decide to use a wet cleaning method for stains. 

Stains aside, cleaning a lamp shade made from paper is easy if you gently dust it with a dry microfiber cloth or lint roller every week or so. Clean the inside and outside, working from top to bottom. If your lamp shades are made with thicker, more durable paper, you can use your vacuum’s brush attachment on them; just be careful around embellishments like ribbons and beads. 

If the glue seam on your paper lamp shades or fabric shades you’ve given a bath come apart, you can still save them: 

  • Pour a few drops of white school glue onto a paper plate. 
  • Moisten a small paintbrush or corner of a cloth and dip it into the glue—keep in mind a little glue goes a long way. 
  • Apply a light layer of glue about ¼-inch wide along the separate edges or follow the glue line if it’s visible. 
  • Let the glue get tacky and then overlap the edges to create a seam. For extra pressure, you can use paper clips or similar fasteners on the top and bottom of the seam. 

How to Clean Pleated Lamp Shades

Many pleated lamp shades shouldn’t get wet, either, and it may take a weekly dusting to keep all the dirt and dust out of the crevices. A can of compressed air works wonderfully for blowing off dust; you can even use your hairdryer on the cool setting. Focus the air blast on the top of the lamp shade and work your way down to the bottom. To get deeper into the pleats, use a paintbrush and dust from top to bottom. For the inside and non-pleated areas, use a lint roller or your vacuum’s upholstery brush. 

If cleaning lamp shades hasn’t found its way onto your housekeeping checklist, you’re not alone. After all, who even knows how to clean lamp shades? Well, now you do, and you can find more handy housekeeping hacks when you check out our house cleaning guides. Whether you do it yourself or enjoy one of our popular residential cleaning services, The Maids wants to make your home a better place. Get your free estimate today and find out just how affordable regular maid service can be for your home.  

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