Project Guide

How to Clean a Lamp Shade

How to Clean a Fabric Lamp Shade
A dirty lamp shade.

Cleaning a lamp shade made of fabric may take several steps, depending on how dirty it is.

  • Unplug the lamp and remove the shade from its mount and base.
  • Inspect the fabric in full light. If there are pieces of the shade that are glued (rather than sewn) together, the shade should not be immersed into water. 
  • Remove any appliques or detachable pieces from the lamp shade’s fabric. Clean those separately. 
  • Clean away surface dust and dirt with a vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment, a duster or a dry microfiber cloth.
  • Prepare a bathtub or wash basin of warm, soapy water full enough to cover most of the lamp shade. 
  • Only use a few drops of gentle laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid. The more soap in the water, the more time and effort it will take to rinse it fully out of the shade. If you have a white lamp shade, try using adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water to help brighten the fabric. Bleaching is not recommended. 
  • If the shade is extra dirty or heavily stained, let it soak it in warm (not hot) soapy water for about 15-minutes, rotating the sides if you have a large lamp shade that is not fully covered by the warm soapy water.
  • Use a clean cotton cloth, microfiber cloth or a non-abrasive sponge to gently clean the fabric after letting it soak. 
  • Drain the tub or basin, fill it back up with warm water only and then carefully rinse the detergent from the lamp shade. 
  • Shake excess water out of the shade as the tub or basin drains, then let it dry completely inside or outdoors. 

TIP: Use a hair dryer on a low setting if you are in a hurry to get the lamp shade dry, but make sure the shade is fully dried before returning the cleaned shade to a base and plugging the lamp back in.

How to Clean a Silk Lamp Shade
A duster being used on an overhead lamp shade.

A silk lamp shade or one covered in a delicate or unusual fabric must be cleaned with care.

  • Use a feather duster to remove any dirt.
  • Avoid lint rollers or vacuuming with a vacuum attachment on a silk lamp shade, as those could damage a sensitive fabric.
  • Do not immerse a silk lamp shade into water or use water or oil-based products to clean it, as those could create permanent stains on the shade.
  • If the shade is stained or yellowed, it must be dry-cleaned by a professional.

How to Clean a Plastic or Glass Lamp Shade
A pleated lampshade.

Use the bathtub and detergent method described in cleaning fabric lamp shades to clean a plastic lamp shade, as plastic won't fall apart when fully immersed in water. This is also the most efficient way to clean a large or bulky-shaped lamp shade. 

  • Vacuum or dust away any plastic lamp shade’s surface debris first, then clean it with a wet rag or sponge and any kind of typical household cleaner. 
  • Use a paintbrush with soft bristles on a pleated lamp shade to get inside the crevices.
How to Clean a Paper or Fiber Lampshade
A lamp shade being wiped off.

More delicate lamp shade materials like textured fiber, paper or fiberglass should not be moistened by water, detergents or liquid cleaning products. Those can cause delicate materials to disintegrate.

  • Instead of water-based cleansers, use a clean, soft and dry rag or cloth like a chamois or soft cotton dish towel to gently brush the dirt off of the lamp shade.
  • Avoid using a vacuum attachment on a lamp shade made from delicate materials.
  • Use a soft duster or a feather duster on a regular basis to clean dust away from a fiber, fiberglass or paper lamp shade.
Use a Lint Roller or Vacuum with Upholstery Attachment
A lint roller.

A handy lint roller can be used to lightly clean a lampshade made of sturdier fabrics such as canvas. Avoid using a lint roller on thin, delicate lamp shade fabrics, as the roller's stickiness could tear the material. If the lamp shade is made with a stronger fabric, it can be vacuumed gently with a vacuum's upholstery attachment. Use the low suction setting on the vacuum to avoid ripping the fabric. 

Shop The Home Depot in-store and online for a variety of lamp shades in many styles and sizes, including small lamp shades and medium lamp shades that will match the style of your room.