Cleaning Dirty Lampshades

by Amy Gordon
(last updated February 16, 2017)

Before you try to clean any cloth lampshade, dust it—inside and out—with a vacuum brush or a clean, soft cloth. Remove any of the lampshade's non-washable trim and check to see whether the shade is glued to its frame. If it is glued, sew the shade fabric to the frame with the same colored thread to keep the structure intact throughout the washing process.

After you have removed the lampshade, fill a washtub with a mild soap and warm water. Whip this mixture into bubbles. Scrub these suds into any stains on the shade with a soft brush. Follow this by dipping the shade into the water repeatedly until the water gets dirty. When the water is dirty, make sure to replace it with clean, sudsy water and repeat. Scrubbing the lampshade with dirty water will just make the lampshade look worse. Once you have cleaned the lampshade this way, refill the basin with fresh water again—this time without soap—and rinse the shade with two to three dips.

Dry the shade by tying a string to the frame and hanging the whole thing upside down. You can also pat the frame with a clean towel to remove most of the moisture, put it back on the light, turn the light on, and let the heat from the bulb dry the lampshade.

Do not worry if the shade looks stretched out at any point during this process. It will bounce back to normal when it is dry. Once the lampshade is dry, you may reattach any non-washable trim you may have removed earlier.

To clean plastic, parchment, or fiberglass lampshades, mix one-quarter cup of dishwashing liquid with a tablespoon of water. Whip the mixture with an eggbeater or an electric mixer until it has the consistency of whipped cream. Apply it to a cloth or sponge and clean your shade carefully. Remove the suds with a damp cloth, making sure to avoid touching any glued-on binding. This trick will also work for plastic-coated or laminated shades.

Author Bio

Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon loves keeping things simple, natural, and safe so she can spend more time having fun. Every day she learns new things about making life at home easier and she loves to share it with you! ...

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