How to clean lampshades to prevent dust and damage

Knowing how to clean lampshades effectively can brighten up your spaces and protect them for years to come

Pink Lampshade on green background
(Image credit: Getty)

Lampshades can be easy enough to overlook even though they accumulate dirt and dust like any other piece of furniture. A dusty and neglected lampshade can turn a pleasant accent piece into an eyesore—not to mention making rooms appear dingier. Learning how to clean your lampshades properly is easy and will protect them from discoloration, all while keeping your living spaces fresh and hygienic. 

Much like mastering how to clean windows, lampshades should be a part of your quarterly deep clean in order to maximize the light in your home and ensure your spaces look fresh. Follow our step-by-step guide and you'll find it's not difficult to get lampshades back to their former glory, even if they're currently a little worse for wear. 

How to clean lampshades according to material

There are four main types of lampshades on the market, and how best to tackle cleaning them largely depends on what material they are fashioned from. Our step-by-step guides cover how to tackle a deep clean of fabric, paper, plastic, and glass lampshades. 

The good news is, deep cleaning your lampshades is really only necessary once a season. After that, all that's needed is a light dusting during your weekly cleaning routine. If you are planning a deep clean of your home, you may want to check out our step-by-step guides on how to clean a kitchen and how to clean a bathroom while you're here.

How to clean a fabric lampshade

fabric lampshade

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have a fabric lampshade, this is the process you should follow in cleaning it to keep it looking its best. It may seem a little time-consuming but the results will be worth it.

Directions for how to clean a fabric lampshade: 

  1. Check the label to see if there are any specific cleaning products you should use or avoid.
  2. Unplug your lamp and take the shade off.
  3. Use a dry microfiber cloth or an upholstery attachment from a vacuum to get rid of any dust.
  4. Fill your bathtub with enough warm water to cover at least half your lampshade, and add a few drops of gentle liquid laundry detergent. You can also use dishwashing liquid. Swirl the water around, adding more soap as needed for larger tubs.
  5. Place the lampshade in the water. If it is very soiled, let it soak for around 10 minutes. Make sure you turn the shade to saturate all sides equally.
  6. Dip your microfiber cloth in soapy water and wipe down the lampshade from top to bottom. Then drain the tub and refill it with warm water.
  7. Place the shade in clean water to remove the soap.
  8. Drain the tub and gently shake the shade to remove excess water.
  9. Put your lampshade on a towel to air dry. Once it’s thoroughly dried, reattach to the lamp base.

How to clean a paper lampshade

paper lampshades

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Paper or parchment lampshades can bring a unique glow to a room, look very contemporary, and are often very affordable too. 

Directions for how to clean paper lampshades:

  1. Turn off your lamp and let it cool completely.
  2. Gently remove the excess dust with a microfiber cloth.
  3. You may be able to use a slightly damp cloth to get rid of additional grime. Test a spot on the inner rim to see if the color changes after it dries. If it doesn't change, use the damp cloth on the rest of the shade.
  4. Remove any grease stains by pressing a soft, crustless piece of white bread against them. Rotate the bread to a clean area and continue dabbing until the stain is lifted.

How to clean plastic lampshades

plastic lampshades

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Plastic lampshades are simple and easy to clean because of their durable material.

Directions for cleaning plastic lampshades: 

  1. Unplug your lamp and take the shade off. Let it cool down completely.
  2. Use a dry microfiber cloth or vacuum upholstery attachment to remove excess dust.
  3. Mix mild dishwashing liquid with warm water and dampen a clean microfiber cloth with the soapy solution.
  4. Carefully wipe the shade clean.
  5. Let it dry completely, and then use a dry microfiber cloth to buff out any streaks.
  6. Return the shade to the lamp base.

How to clean glass lampshades

glass lamp

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Glass lampshades are also reasonably easy to clean and you can either clean them by hand or in the dishwasher, as long as you take some special care. 

Directions for cleaning glass lampshades by hand: 

  1. If you don't have a dishwasher, you can clean your glass shade in the sink with warm, soapy water.
  2. If there is grease on your lampshade, add white vinegar to the water. Vinegar is also a trusted ingredient in our guides on how to clean copper, how to clean grout, and how to clean blood out of carpet to name but a few, making it a versatile and affordable cleaning option.
  3. Scrub gently and immediately hand-dry. 

If your lampshade is crafted from a more delicate glass, we'd advise handwashing, but for more sturdy glass lampshades, a dishwasher is a safe option. 

Directions for cleaning glass lampshades in the dishwasher:

  1. Place your glass lampshade in the top rack of the dishwasher.
  2. Avoid crowding other items around it—it doesn't need to be cleaned solo, but it's best to give it space for a thorough wash.
  3. Operate your dishwasher as usual.
  4. Hand dry. 

Cleaning your lampshades could be a quick task or a chore that takes a bit more time, depending on the shade‘s material and how much dirt and grime has accumulated on it. It is well worth your time, though, and outside of a seasonal deep clean, a light dusting is all you need to do the job quickly and easily, maintaining its original beauty.

Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on