How to Clean Lampshades

Tending to these dust magnets should be part of your regular cleaning routine.

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Skill Level: Kid-friendly

Whether made from fabric, plastic, glass, or paper, lampshades are both decorative and functional. They dress up fixtures while also protecting eyes from bright light. Unfortunately, lampshades also attract a lot of dust and other home pollutants, like hair and dander. With our guide, you'll learn how to clean a lampshade, including some surprising options for keeping them dust-free, and how to remove stains or heavy soiling.


Better Homes & Gardens

5 Ways to Dust a Lampshade

Lampshades should be dusted weekly as part of routine cleaning. When dusting a lampshade, start by turning off the bulb, then dusting both the interior and exterior of the shade. (When it is cool to touch, go ahead and dust the bulb, also!) You do not need to remove the lampshade from the lamp in order to dust it. Here are five methods for dusting lampshades.

wooden dresser with flowers and pink lamps
Vandiver Chaplin

1. Use a Duster

Use a feather or microfiber duster to give a lampshade a once-over to remove dust, hair, dander, and other common household soils. Work from the top down, and be sure to dust the lampshade before you dust or polish the surface it sits on, since dust travels downward, settling on the surface below.

2. Vacuum with an Upholstery Brush

Make dusting lampshades part of your regular vacuuming routine. Work from the top down, using a soft upholstery brush attachment and a gentle touch to remove dirt and dust from the shade. Vacuuming is not recommended for lampshades with delicate fringe, as the suction can cause damage, or for use on especially delicate lampshades.

3. Consider a Sticky Roller

Sticky rollers are another way to remove buildup on lampshades and can be especially handy as a quick cleaning method. Sticky rollers are also recommended for use in households with pets, where loose fur and dander can collect on lampshades. Avoid using sticky rollers on paper or other very delicate lampshades to avoid tearing the material.

4. Clean Pleats with a Paintbrush

Because of their design, pleated lampshades can be a challenge to clean. However, a clean, soft-bristle paintbrush can be used to dust the tight spaces between the pleats.

5. Blow Away Dust with a Hair Dryer

To use a hair dryer to dust a lampshade, use the lowest heat and airflow settings to dislodge buildup on the shade. This method is not recommended for use on lampshades with embellishments, as the heat from a hair dryer can loosen the glue adhering them to the shade.

What You'll Need


Supplies for Spot Cleaning

  • Small bowl
  • Mild detergent
  • Light-colored cloth
  • Butter knife or spoon (optional)
  • Hair dryer (optional)

Supplies for Deep Cleaning

  • Mild detergent
  • Duster
  • Towel
  • Light-colored cloth
  • Hair dryer (optional)


How to Spot Treat Stains on Lampshades

Spot treating, which addresses a specific stain in a specific place, is the method for removing stains or for cleaning very dirty fabric, paper, or fiber lampshades, which cannot be submerged in water. Unplug the lamp before spot-treating the shade, or remove the shade from the lamp.

  1. Remove Any Solids

    Check the lampshade for any dried-on solids, and use the edge of a butter knife or spoon to gently scrape them off the shade.

  2. Mix Detergent Solution

    In a small bowl, make a solution of lukewarm water and 1–2 drops of mild detergent like dish soap or liquid laundry detergent

  3. Apply Detergent to the Stain

    Dip a light-colored cloth in the detergent solution, wringing it out so that it is just barely damp. Gently dab at the stain until it's gone, taking care not to scrub, as friction can abrade the material and damage the lampshade.

  4. Rinse the Shade

    Rinse the light-colored cloth in clean water, wring it out, and give the area you spot-treated a once-over to remove detergent residue.

  5. Allow the Shade to Dry

    Let the shade air-dry, or speed up drying time by using a hair dryer on the lowest heat and airflow settings. The shade should be completely dry before returning it to the lamp. 

How to Deep Clean a Lampshade

Deep cleaning a lampshade using a mild detergent solution is only safe on plastic or glass lampshades. Fabric, paper, or fiber lampshades cannot be submerged in water and should be sent out for professional deep cleaning when needed.

  1. Dust the Shade

    Before deep cleaning a lampshade, use one of the dusting methods described above to remove loose soils.

  2. Fill Tub

    Fill a bathtub with enough lukewarm water to submerge at least half of the lampshade. Add 1-2 tsp. of a mild detergent, and swirl the water to distribute and dissolve. If your home doesn't have a bathtub, use a utility bucket or deep sink to clean bulky items.

  3. Submerge the Shade

    Place the lampshade in the detergent solution, leaving the top wire exposed so that it is not submerged in water, and allow it to soak for 5–10 minutes.

  4. Scrub the Shade

    After a short soak, use a light-colored cloth to gently scrub away dirt and remove stains. 

  5. Rinse the Shade

    Drain the tub and rinse the cloth. Then, use the cloth to gently wipe detergent residue from the lampshade, rinsing the cloth as needed. 

  6. Allow the Shade to Dry

    After washing, gently wipe the lampshade using a clean towel. Then, allow the shade to air dry, or speed up drying time by using a hair dryer on the lowest heat and airflow settings. The shade should be completely dry before returning it to the lamp. 

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