How to Clean a Lampshade

Person using handheld vacuum to clean lampshade

For items rarely cleaned, such as your lampshades, using the right methods will prevent damage and ensure you’re satisfied with the end result. The Molly Maid cleaning professionals are here to offer you expert advice on the best way to clean a lampshade, to eliminate the guesswork and help breathe new life into your living space.

How to Clean a Lampshade

You can keep your lampshades looking new with these cleaning tips for fabric shades and other common materials.


  • Microfiber cloths
  • Basin, sink, or tub deep enough to clean and rinse the shade
  • Mild dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent
  • Latex or rubber gloves
  • Vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment
  • Nylon stocking

Cleaning a Fabric Shade

Use vacuum attachments and vacuum or dust the exterior of the shade to remove any excess dust or debris and check to see if there is a care tag attached with instructions for cleaning before proceeding:

  • Unplug the lamp and remove the shade.
  • Fill a tub, sink, or basin with cool water and add a few drops of detergent or one teaspoon of laundry soap.
  • Use your hand to swirl the water to mix in the soap and create suds.
  • Place the lampshade in the water and allow it to soak for 5-10 minutes depending on how dirty it may be.
  • If the depth of the water does not allow for the shade to be submerged, you may need to rotate it every few minutes to ensure all sides are cleaned evenly.
  • For heavily-soiled fabric use a clean soft cloth to wipe down the shade, working from the top down.
  • Use a toothbrush to gently scrub stains.
  • Remove the shade from the sudsy water and rinse and refill the tub with clean water.
  • Rinse the shade well to remove all traces of soap and shake gently to remove excess water.
  • Stand the shade upright on a clean towel to dry.
  • Ensure the lampshade is completely dry before reattaching.

Paper or Parchment Shades

Lampshades made from paper or those that contain glue can be harder to clean since they can’t get wet. While the best way to keep these types of materials clean is to vacuum or dust them on a regular basis, they may require some additional care from time to time:

  • NOTE: Due to the nature of parchment and its susceptibility to staining, be sure to wear gloves when handling to prevent contact with the oil from your skin.
  • Unplug the lamp and remove the shade.
  • Wipe the surface of the lampshade with a microfiber cloth, or vacuum using the upholstery attachment.
  • Parchment lampshades may be cleaned using a piece of white bread with the crust removed: simply wipe the bread across the surface of the shade to remove dust and dirt.

Plastic Shades

Plastic is the most durable lampshade material and cleans up easily using the following steps:

  • Unplug the lamp and remove the shade.
  • Use a clean cloth or vacuum attachment to remove excess dirt.
  • Dampen a cloth with a mixture of soap and water and gently wipe down the surface of the lampshade.
  • Dry the surface with a clean towel or allow to air dry.
  • Ensure the lampshade is completely dry before reattaching.

Embellished or Silk Shades

Lampshades which are embroidered, heavily beaded, or sequined require special care:

  • Unplug the lamp and remove the shade.
  • For silk shades, vacuum the surface using the upholstery attachment.
  • For embellished shades, attach a nylon stocking over the vacuum cleaner hose to remove dirt while preserving the trim.
  • For a deeper clean, consult a professional cleaner to avoid damage.

If you’re looking to take house cleaning off your to-do list, please contact your local Molly Maid today for a free estimate! Molly Maid is a Neighborly company — and part of a community of professional home service providers. To read more expert tips on other topics, visit