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Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500622

Cleaning Lamp Shades

Basic cleaning of shades: use a clean soft cloth or a vacuum brush to dust the lampshade inside and outside.Take off any non-washable trim. If the cloth is glued to the frame, sew it on with thread of the same color. Then you will be able to wash it over and over again without any trouble.

Fill a deep washtub or bathtub with enough warm water to cover the shade. Add detergent and swish up thick suds. Use a mild detergent, as a hand dishwashing liquid.

Fabric Shade

Use suds on a soft brush to rub any spots lightly. Then dip the shade up and down. When the water gets dirty, change to clean sudsy water. Wash the shade a second rinse the shade, dip it up and down through two or three changes of clean water. Don't worry if the cloth stretches and sags while it is wet. It will tighten up for a snug fit when it gets dry.

To dry a fabric shade, tie a string to the middle of the frame. Then hang it over the bathtub or hang it from a clothesline outdoors to drip dry. Or you can wipe the shade with a bath towel until it is almost dry. Then put it back on the lamp and turn on the light so the heat from the bulb will help it to finish drying. If the lampshade has ruffles, "press" them with your finger.

Plastic, Plastic Coated, Laminated, Parchment, or Fiberglass shade.

Put one fourth cup of mild detergent into a bowl. Add just enough warm water to make it wet. Whip this mixture with a whip or electric mixer to make stiff "dry" suds that look like whipped cream. Put some of the thick suds on a cloth or sponge. Use this to wash the shade, inside and outside. If the binding around the edge is glued on, don't rub it or let it get very wet. Rinse the shade right away by going over it with a clean damp cloth. Then wipe it dry.

Don't forget to clean the reflector bowl if the lamp has one before replacing the shade. Never use any abrasive cleaner like common scouring powders, no abrasive pads.


This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus.

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MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

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