How to Clean a Lampshade

Lampshades are magnets for dust and dirt. A dusty shade will dim your room’s lighting in time, and even affect your indoor air quality. If you want to get your money’s worth from the electric company, you’ve got to clean your lampshades regularly. Depending on what your shades are made of, here’s how to clean them.

Ceramic or stained-glass

Spray with glass cleaner and wipe down with a soft cloth, or immerse in warm, soapy water and air-dry. Take care not to scratch the finish, as this will show every time you turn the lamp on.

Metal or plastic

Simply dust with a dry cloth, or wipe down with a damp one. Used fabric softener sheets and disinfecting wipes work well.


Wipe off dust with a used fabric softener sheet or gently vacuum with a brush attachment or hand vacuum. White shades can be brightened by wiping them down with a mixture of water and bleach. Soiled areas can be treated with a detergent wipe or by immersing the shade in a solution of warm water and mild detergent. Make sure that the inner lining can safely be soaked in water, as many are made of cardboard. The shade should be dried thoroughly in the sun or with a hair dryer.


Treat silk lampshades the same as other fabric shades, but with extra care. Try to spot-clean any stains, rather than immersing the entire shade, and use only mild detergent if needed. You may wish to consult a dry-cleaner for stubborn stains or an extra-delicate lampshade.

Paper or cardboard

Dust or gently vacuum. Avoid wetting the shade if possible, and take care to avoid tears or punctures.

Lampshades made of more exotic materials should be treated the same as piece of clothing or furniture made of the same material. A leather shade, for example, can be dusted or treated with leather cleaner, but may require professional cleaning. A carpet-style lampshade can be vacuumed or gently immersed in a mixture of warm water and carpet cleaner.

Be sure to take the time to clean both the inside and outside surfaces of your lampshades, and dust or wipe down the underlying light bulbs. These two extra steps will greatly increase the return on your work.

Most times, a dusting or the occasional spot-clean will do the trick, but consider washing your fabric shades as part of your spring cleaning routine. You will brighten everyone’s day when you turn those lights back on!

Betsy Cline

Betsy Cline has been a professional house cleaner for 15 years and also a mother of 4 amazing kids (who make lots of messes). She is the founder of How to Clean It and loves to share tips and advice for cleaning up anything life throws at you.

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