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How to Clean Lamp Shades: Remove the Cobwebs and Dirt

Learn how to clean lamp shades so they look like new again.

Lampshades add texture, color, and style to your home. They also come in a variety of styles and fabrics from vintage shades to beautiful silk shades. However, lampshades also attract insect stains, dust, dirt, mold, and mildew as well.

In order to keep your home looking beautiful, it’s necessary to know how to clean lampshades.

Key Takeaways

  • Use a lint roller to remove dust and cobwebs from the lampshade.
  • For fabric lampshades, clean with dish soap and warm water in a sink or tub, and gently wipe with a soft sponge.
  • Paper or parchment lampshades require a dry microfiber cloth or vacuum attachment with a brush to clean them without causing damage.
  • Check care labels for cleaning instructions specific to your lampshade, and consult a professional for delicate or valuable shades.

Can Lamp Shades be Washed?

Yes, you can clean old lampshades in soap and water without ruining the fabric. You will need to read the care tag for any specific cleaning products to avoid. Also, if you have delicate or valuable lampshades that are embroidered, beaded, antique, or painted, consult with a professional before cleaning the shades.

How to Clean Lamp Shades

  • Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You’ll Need

  • Lint roller
  • Vacuum attachment with a furniture brush
  • Deep sink, tub, or bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Soft sponge or microfiber cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Clean towel
  • Masking tape
  • Hairdryer (optional)

Dusting Lamp Shades

Lampshades are a magnet for dust and animal hair. The best way to begin cleaning lampshades is to remove the dust and animal hair with a lint roller.

1. Vacuum

Gently use a vacuum attachment with a furniture brush to vacuum the dusty lampshade. Your goal is to remove as many cobwebs and as much dust as possible.

2. Use a Lint Roller

Gently roll the lint roller up and down the lampshade being careful not to tear it. When the top sheet becomes filled with dirt and hair, remove it and continue rolling up and down the shade.

Clean the lampshade until you’ve removed as much of the dirt and hair as you can.

Fabric Lamp Shades

You can safely clean linen and other fabrics that your lampshade is made of, using soap and water. It’s always best to check your care tag before you begin, to make sure that your lampshade doesn’t have any special instructions.

1. Remove Lamp Shade

Unplug your lamp and remove your lampshade from the lamp base. Then make sure that all the dirt, dust, and hair has been removed from your lampshade using a lint roller.

2. Fill a Container

Fill a deep sink, a bathtub, or a large bucket with warm water. You will need the water deep enough to cover at least ½ of the lampshade.

3. Add Dish Soap

Add a squirt or 1 teaspoon of dish soap to the water. Then churn the water with your hands to mix it until you have suds appearing. If you believe you’ll need a stronger soap than dish soap, you can use a laundry detergent that contains oxygen bleach instead.

4. Place Shade In the Water

Hold your lampshade by the frame and place the shade in the water. Allow it to soak for about 10 minutes. Be sure to rotate the lampshade so that all the sides are soaked.

5. Wipe Shade

Dip your sponge or microfiber cloth into the water. Carefully wipe your shade from the top to the bottom. Do not rub the fabric as this may damage the color.

If you find you have some tough stains, you can use a toothbrush and extra soap to dab at the stains. Again, don’t rub the fabric or stains as this may damage the color of your fabric.

6. Remove Shade

Pull the lampshade out of the container and drain the water. Fill the sink, tub, or bucket again with fresh water that has no soap added to it.

7. Rinse Shade

Hold your lampshade by the frame to dip and swish the shade in the water. This will help to remove the soapy water from the lampshade.

8. Drain and Dry

Pull the lampshade out of the water and gently shake it to remove any excess water. Wipe the shade with a clean towel to dry. Drain the tub.

Give your shade time to dry before you replace it on the lamp base.

You can also use a hairdryer on a low setting to dry your lampshade. Before turning on the hairdryer, your hands and feet need to be dry. Aim the hairdryer at the lampshade and keep it about 8-10 inches away from the lampshade.

9. Re-attach

When the lampshade is completely dry, reattach it to the lamp base. Plug your lamp back into the socket.

Pro Tip

If you have yellow nicotine stains on your fabric lampshade, add 1 cup of vinegar to the soapy water bath.

Paper or Parchment Lamp Shades

Paper and parchment lampshades can not be submerged in water as the water will destroy the paper. Also, if your lampshade is held together with glue, you will need to use this method to clean your lampshade.

1. Put On Gloves

Put on gloves before you begin to work with a paper or parchment lampshade. The shades are sensitive to the oils on your hands and this will prevent you from accidentally leaving oil on the shade.

2. Remove Shade

Unplug your lamp and remove the lampshade from the base of your lamp.

3. Wipe the Shade

Using a dry microfiber cloth, carefully wipe the inside and outside of your lampshade. Your goal is to remove all the dirt and cobwebs from your lamp. Be careful not to tear the lampshade.

You can also use a vacuum attachment with a furniture brush. Again, work slowly and carefully so you don’t tear the lampshade.

Remove stains with an art gum eraser. Carefully rub the stain while supporting the paper on the other side so you neither bend nor tear the paper.

Pro Tip

Use a piece of white bread instead of a microfiber cloth to clean your parchment lampshade.

Plastic or Glass Lamp Shades

Plastic and Glass lampshades are usually wiped down with a cloth dipped in soapy water to clean them.

1. Remove Lamp Shade

Unplug your lamp and remove the lampshade from the base.

2. Remove Dust

Remove the dust and dirt from your lamp using a microfiber cloth or vacuum attachment with a brush.

3. Mix Soapy Water

Fill a bowl with warm water and add a few drops of dish soap. Swish it to make sure that the dish soap has been mixed into the water.

4. Wipe

To clean your lampshade with cleaner, first, dip your microfiber cloth into the soapy water and gently wipe your lamp shade all over.

5. Dry

Once your lampshade is clean, allow it to dry, and then buff out any streaks with a dry microfiber cloth.

6. Replace

Replace your lampshade on the base and plug it in.

How to Clean Lamp Shades With Pleats

If you have a lampshade with accordion pleats, you know that it can be challenging to clean in between the pleats. Here are a couple of hacks you can use.

Use the brush attachment on your vacuum to vacuum along and down the pleats to remove the dust.

Another cheap option is to gently place masking tape into the pleats, but don’t push down. Your goal is to gently lift the dust out of the pleats with the masking tape.

Use a hairdryer on a low setting that’s 12-14 inches away from the pleated lamp shade. This will help to blow any dust and dirt from the pleats of your lampshade.

Use a small paintbrush to brush down the pleats and remove the dust.

How to Clean Brown Spots on Lamp Shades

If you’re having trouble with brown spots on your lampshades, there are a couple of hacks you can try.

Use K2r Spotlifter to remove the dark spots on your stained lamp shades.

You can also use bleach to remove mildew stains from your lampshades. First, mist the lampshade so it is slightly damp. Make a solution of ¼ cup bleach in 1 gallon of water. Dip a sponge or a microfiber cloth into the bleach solution and wipe the entire shade with the solution.

Use a toothbrush to gently scrub any stains. Wait 5 minutes. Rinse the shade with freshwater, before blotting the lampshade with a clean white towel to dry it.

To remove insect stains with vinegar, make a homemade solution of 1 part vinegar to 1 part water in a small bowl. Dip a paper towel into the vinegar and gently dab the stain until it’s removed.


Can You Wash Lamp Shades In the Dishwasher?

While most lampshades cannot be washed in the dishwasher, glass lamp shades can. To wash your glass shades in the dishwasher, place the shades on the top rack and substitute the dish detergent with vinegar.

How Do You Clean a Tassel on a Lampshade?

You will need to be careful when you clean a tassel on a lampshade as they are delicate and can easily unravel.

Spread the tassel apart on a small rubber mat or piece of plastic like a plastic bag. Use a dry toothbrush to gently brush the tassel downward and manually remove all the dirt, cobwebs, and grime from the tassel.

If the tassels are still dirty, you can make a cleaning solution by filling a spray bottle with room temperature sparkling water. Add 1 tablespoon of mild detergent.

Then spray a drop of the cleaning solution at the top of the tassel. Carefully brush the cleaning solution downward on the tassel to clean it. Dry the tassel with a clean towel by gently dabbing it.

Work on one tassel at a time until all the tassels are clean.

What Causes Brown Spots on Lampshades?

The brown spots on a lampshade can be caused by mold and mildew developing on your lampshade especially if you live in a moist environment. The brown spots could also be stains left by insects.

What Can I Do With Old Lamp Shade Frames?

Old lampshade frames can be repurposed. For instance, you can turn the old frame into an outdoor succulent plant holder, a crafting stand, turn them into a toy basket for the playroom, or even a magazine holder.

How Do You Clean a Brass Lamp Base?

The best way to clean a brass lamp base is to use household products like ketchup and tomato paste. They are excellent at removing stains and blemishes.

How Do You Clean Glass Light Globes?

The best way to clean glass light globes is to immerse them in warm, soapy water and scrub them with a soft sponge. Next, lift them out and dry them with a soft cloth.

How Do You Clean Lamp Shades?

Most lampshades can be cleaned by using a lint roller to remove all the dust, dirt, and cobwebs from your lampshade. This will make a dramatic improvement in the appearance of your shade. Otherwise, check the care label and clean your lampshade using a method that’s appropriate for the material from which it’s made.

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About the Author

Sara Dennis

Sara Dennis is a coffee-loving freelance writer, homeschool blogger, and mom of six kids. In her free time, Sara loves reading books and researching more efficient and effective ways to keep a clean house, homeschool her children, and blog better while making a home for her large family.