Keep Paper Lampshades Looking Their Best

by Carolanne Strong
(last updated February 11, 2013)

When you think about style elements that put a finishing touch on a room, chances are you think about lighting accents. The right lamp in the right spot can pull a room together and make it feel comfortable and cozy or spacious and bright. But a dirty lampshade can detract from the beauty and purpose of your lamp. For the most part, lampshades are easy to clean, but if you have a paper lampshade, you will want to handle it differently than a glass or plastic shade. Here's how:

  • Clean all of your shades at the same time. Chances are if one lampshade is dirty, they all are. Taking a few minutes to remove the shades and clean them at the same together will save you some time and trouble. It may seem easier to leave the shade on the lamp stand, but removing them will give you easier access to clean the inside and outside, and will let you clean off the light bulb too, which is easy to miss if it is covered. Create a workspace by clearing a table or laying out a sheet to gather your lampshades on. This will save you the effort of dragging your cleaning supplies from lamp to lamp.
  • Prevention is key. This is especially true of paper shades, because built up dirt can be difficult to remove from fragile paper. Regular maintenance works much better than damage control.
  • Unplug your lamp. This safety precaution will keep you from shocking or burning yourself. If the lamp was on right before you unplugged it, allow the bulb a few minutes to cool off before you remove the shade.
  • Use the right tool. You have a couple of options you can use to clean dust and dirt from your lampshade. You can use a wide, soft bristled paintbrush to sweep the surface, or you may want to consider using a dryer sheet, which will pick up dirt particles that would otherwise cling to the surface because of static electricity. Some people prefer to use the upholstery attachment with their vacuum. This is a good idea if the lampshade has built up dirt layers, because the suction will pull out more dust than brushing alone, but this method is not recommended if you have a particularly delicate shade or if your shade is pleated because you won't be able to reach between the creases.
  • Some do's: Clean the inside and the outside for the best results, and clean the cold bulb and lamp stand (you can use a damp cloth for these) before you replace the lampshade.
  • Some don'ts: Never use anything damp on a paper shade. If you've ever accidentally spilled water on a book you will know that the pages will dry, but they never look quite the same; the same is true of your paper lampshade. Also, don't use any tools with sharp edges or with hard bristles that may snag or tear the paper.

Author Bio

Carolanne Strong

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