How To Clean A Fabric Lamp Shade

How to Clean a Fabric Lampshade

Cleaning those dirty old lampshades is just a part of life. Dust is a problem along with dirt and stains. After a while, your fabric lampshade will start to look old and dinghy. It’s especially a problem with pleated lampshades.

Using a vacuum brush attachment is one solution. I’ve found it works great when you are removing dust from pleated lampshades. The only problem is the brush may not be able to get in between all of the crevices.

In this case, it’s time to grab a damp cloth and some soapy water. I’ve also discovered that laundry detergent works great for cleaning them too.

What Towel Should I Use to Clean Fabric Lampshades?

You want to use a microfiber towel on a fabric lampshade. Stay away from dish towels and clean rags. These types can get the dust off but they also leave bits of fabric behind. Make sure the microfiber cloth is clean and dry.

A wet cloth can leave water stains and cause dust to seep into the fabric. When this happens, you have to wash the lampshade to get rid of the dirt.

How to Clean a Linen Lampshade

Linen and silk lampshades require a little care. The fabric is delicate, so don’t toss the lampshade into the washing machine.

  • Start by removing the excess dust with a microfiber cloth, feather duster, or brush attachment. You probably won’t be able to get all of the dust especially if the lampshade is pleated. Don’t worry the next steps will get rid of any leftover dust and stains.
  • Fill a sink or bathtub with warm water and add a teaspoon of mild detergent. Ivory or Dawn dish soap are popular options. The detergent is gentle on the fabric and effectively cuts through dirt and grime.
  • Soak the lampshade in the water for a few minutes. If you notice stains, use a microfiber cloth to gently get them out.
  • Rinse the lampshade in clean water and hang it up to dry. Don’t hang the lampshade outside to dry because the sun can fade the fabric. You also don’t want bugs, bird droppings, and other debris to get on your clean lampshades. Instead, use a drying rack or even a shower curtain rod.
  • If you still notice some stains after cleaning, a dry cleaning stick will also work on stubborn stains without ruining the fabric. It also works great on any paper lampshades you may have in the home.

Another trick to removing stains without ruining the delicate fabric is applying some white vinegar to the stain. Using a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water will remove almost any stubborn stain.

It’s an easy way to clean shades, especially delicate linen and silk ones.

How Often Should You Clean a Fabric Lampshade?

how often should you clean a fabric lampshade

There isn’t a set time when you should clean a fabric lampshade. Some get dirtier faster than others. How often you clean your fabric lampshade depends on your particular needs but every few months or so is a good rule of thumb.

Busy households with kids and pets will find they need to clean their lampshades more frequently than single-person homes. Fingerprints, pet dander, and dust can turn your pristine lampshade into a dirty mess.

You don’t want to wash your lampshade every day or weekly. It can wear out the fabric and cause colors to fade. You do want to keep it looking clean. Your fabric lampshade isn’t cheap, and it’s what ties everything in the room together.

To keep your lampshade looking like new in busy homes, you may want to tackle cleaning it once a month. Weekly dustings will help keep it looking pristine in-between deep cleanings.

If you notice a stain, grab the dry cleaning stick. It’s a handy tool to have whenever sticky fingers touch the lampshade.

If you are in a pet-free home by yourself or with another adult, you probably won’t have to clean the lampshade as often. To keep it looking its best try and clean the fabric lampshade every season.

Four yearly cleanings should be enough to keep dust and stains away.

Can You Wash a Fabric Lampshade?

can you wash a fabric lampshade

You can wash a fabric lampshade when dusting and spot remover no longer does the trick. However, don’t use a washing machine even if the shade isn’t pleated. The agitator is too strong for the fabric even if it is cotton, poplin, or a synthetic blend.

  • When the lamp is cool take the shade off. Go ahead and give it a good dusting with a brush attachment or microfiber cloth. You can even use a stiff paintbrush to sweep dust off. The narrow bristles work great at getting between pleats.
  • Some lampshades allow you to remove the fabric but not all. The only difference when you are washing one with the fabric glued on is you do not want to soak it in the water. Just get the lampshade wet and pull it out to scrub away dirt and dust.
  • Use a mild detergent to wash the lampshade and rinse the soap off with cold water.
  • Pat it dry with a soft cloth. Avoid using a towel. You don’t want to get lint on your clean lampshade.
  • Let it air dry indoors before placing it back on the lamp.

If stubborn nicotine stains are left behind, try a dry cleaning stick or sponge. It’s also an easy way to prevent stains from becoming a problem between washings.

Can Lint Rollers Get Rid of Dust on Fabric Lampshades?

Not everyone has the time to wash their fabric lampshades every few weeks. You don’t have to let the dust build up. There’s a quick and easy way to get rid of dust.

You can find lint rollers in a variety of sizes. The handy device instantly picks up dust and dirt on almost anything it touches. Look for a lint roller narrower than the width of the lampshade. Run it across the fabric in long, sweeping strokes.

Even lint rollers can be effective, but you don’t want to use one on a pleated lampshade. It can flatten the pleats giving the shade an uneven appearance.

Use the brush or edge attachment on your vacuum to get rid of dust between the pleats. A paintbrush will also work better than a lint roller.

Drying a Fabric Lampshade

drying a fabric lampshade

It is never a good idea to put a wet fabric lampshade on a lamp. Mixing water and electricity is dangerous. You don’t want to put the lampshade in the dryer, even if it is not glued onto the frame.

Treat cotton shades the same as linen and silk ones when it comes to drying. Don’t hang the shade outdoors. You want to keep it clean. You also don’t want the color or pattern fading prematurely.

If the fabric is glued onto the lampshade, let it dry on a clean towel. Patting it dry will help speed up the process and help prevent water stains on delicate fabrics.

It’s a little easier to dry lampshades when the fabric isn’t glued on. You can drape the fabric over a rack, shower curtain rod, or even a chair back. Try to avoid drying the fabric near a sunny window. You don’t want it to fade.

James Marshall

About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »