One of those tricky cleaning mysteries is the lampshade. While they are an important part of our home decor and are used practically every night, we don’t usually give too much thought to cleaning them until we happen to notice how dusty they are when we reach over to turn on a light.
Because lampshades are made of several different kinds of materials…fabric, paper, glass, to name a few…there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to cleaning them. Read on to find out how to clean each type of lampshade, and which cleaning tools are necessary to do the job.
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How to dust lampshades
Regular cleaning of your lampshades really just comes down to a good dusting every now and then.
Most lampshades can be dusted with a clean, dry cloth. Making sure the light bulb inside the shade is cool to the touch, wipe inside and out with the cloth until the dust is gone.
A microfiber cloth works well for this job, as it is lint free and very good at picking up bits of dust with its individual fibers. You could also use a feather duster.
Another way to rid your lampshades of dust is to use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum and vacuum the dust away. It’s best to save this method for paper, glass or bamboo/woven lampshades, however, because over time, a stiff upholstery brush can slightly damage a fabric lampshade.
How to clean fabric lampshades
If your fabric lampshades are looking rather dingy or have stains on them, it’s best to try to wash them.
After removing any dust from the lampshade, you can submerge your fabric shade in a basin of warm water to which a few drops of gentle detergent has been added. You can use a mild dish detergent or a laundry detergent for delicate fabrics.
Depending on how soiled the lampshade is, you may want to allow the fabric to soak in the water for several minutes, rotating the shade so that every side can sit in the water.
After you are done washing the lampshade, make sure to rinse it very well with clean water, then set it aside on a large, clean towel to air dry.
If your fabric lampshade is made of silk, I would avoid washing it in regular soap and water, as it may discolor the fabric. A good dry cleaners should be able to help you clean your silk lampshade.
How to clean paper lampshades
Paper lampshades can be a little fussier to clean than the fabric ones. Because of the nature of the material they are made from, paper lampshades can tend to absorb oils from your hands, so you have to be careful when handling them.
Obviously, you wouldn’t want to clean a paper lampshade by dunking it into a basin of water, but you can remove dust by using a clean, dry microfiber cloth or with an upholstery attachment and a vacuum.
For any dirty spots that can’t be removed with a dry cloth, you can attempt to clean the lampshade with a dry cleaning sponge. You just rub the sponge over the shade, making sure that it is dry (don’t get it wet first!), and it should erase any spots.
You might also want to try using a piece of white bread to clean your paper lampshade. Instead of rubbing the bread over the stain, just use it to dab at the spot. It can sometimes absorb the contents of a spill or stain, and while it might sound a little strange, it’s worth a try!
How to clean glass lampshades
Glass lampshades are the easiest type of shade to clean! If they are not too delicate, you can place them on the top rack in your dishwasher and wash them with the rest of your dishes.
Alternatively, you can hand wash them in a basin of warm, soap water, drying them with a clean, dry kitchen towel afterwards.
If your glass lampshades are covered in sticky grease, say as a result of being in a kitchen where foods are fried, you can add a little bit of vinegar to your soapy water when you wash the shades. Vinegar helps cut through grease, so you’ll have an easier time getting them clean.
How to get stains out of lampshades
If your lampshades have stains on them, the first thing to try is the dry cleaning sponge. You’ll just rub the dry sponge over the stain until it is gone. While it is usually a great treatment, it doesn’t always get every stain out.
For fabric lampshades, you can try a stain removing treatment for laundry, depending on the quality of the fabric. Test it first in an inconspicuous place, the proceed if the test shows that there was no discoloring or marking of the fabric. Wash the shade as described above.
For really delicate lampshades…like those made of silk…it’s best to take them to a good dry cleaners and discuss cleaning with them. They may have some suggestions for you to clean the shade at home, or they may be able to remove the stain for you.
Lampshade cleaning supplies
To get started cleaning your lampshades, you’ll need a good vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment, some good-quality cleaning cloths, and a dry cleaning sponge.
My favorite vacuum is an upright with a bag, like the Hoover WindTunnel Max. The cord is stored right inside, and the upholstery extension has a good long reach so that you can vacuum things like lampshades without pulling the vacuum over. It has so many good reviews too, which means that lots of other people like it.
Microfiber cleaning cloths are a must-have for keeping lampshades clean and free of dust. You can also use them in many other areas of your home; they are lint-free and streak-free, and won’t scratch your appliances or glass. They can also be washed over and over again, saving you money on paper towels.
Last, but definitely not least, is the life-saving dry cleaning sponge. In addition to cleaning lampshades, the dry cleaning sponge is great for removing spots and stains from walls, wallpaper, and even books. You can also use it on appliances and blinds and many other things.
Making a cleaning schedule
Since lampshades don’t really need to be cleaned that often, we usually forget to do it until we notice an obvious (and embarrassing!) layer of dust on top of our lamps.
But we can avoid guests to our homes noticing that we haven’t dusted in a while by keeping track of these sorts of occasional chores in a good home keeping planner.
With the My Mommy Household Planner, you can keep track, not only of your infrequent cleaning chores, but can also track household maintenance, pantry supplies, bills, family medical history and more!
With printable pages that you print over and over again, you’ll never need another household planner again. You can even print single pages to use on shopping trips, or laminate them to track your pantry contents.
Get your household…and cleaning…running smoothly with the help of the My Mommy Household Planner!
Your lampshades (and family) will thank you!