How to Clean Fabric Lampshades


Frances asked: How do you clean a lampshade that is fabric on plastic? The lampshade is pleated and the inside is plastic and smooth – it doesn’t show pleats. The outside looks like a fabric glued to the plastic. It is a beige color and has never been cleaned other than vacuuming.

Lampshades are often neglected as part of our weekly cleaning, and quickly gather a layer of dust and dirt. Fabric lampshades come in a variety of styles. Some are glued onto plastic bases; others are stitched onto wire frames. Be cautious of any ornaments and trims as they will need to be removed or carefully cleaned around so they are not damaged. Follow the guidelines below to safely clean your fabric lampshade and restore its original beauty.

You Will Need:

  • Soft bristled brush
  • Vacuum with brush attachment (optional)
  • Hairdryer
  • Soft cloth
  • Mild detergent (optional)

Steps to Clean the Lampshade:

  1. Start by unplugging the lamp.
  2. Use a soft bristled brush, such as a large artist’s brush to remove the dust from the surface. Work in 4-5 inch sections starting at the top and working your way to the bottom.
  3. Use a long sweeping motion to remove the dust, rotate the shade and repeat on the next section.
  4. If the lampshade is large and the fabric can tolerate the suction from the vacuum. It may be quicker to place the brush attachment on the vacuum and use that to dust from the top to the bottom.
  5. Use the hairdryer on the cool setting to remove dust from any trimmings and fringe.
  6. Moisten a soft cloth with water and wipe down the plastic interior of the lampshade.
  7. Typically, water is sufficient to clean the plastic base. However, if there is excessive dust, mix in a couple drops of mild detergent with the water and use the mixture to clean any dirt build-up.
  8. Do not use water on the fabric part, unless it is stitched onto the frame. If it is glued on, it cannot be submersed in water because it will break the glue bond.
  9. If the fabric frame has been stitched and there is no concern of it falling apart, it can be washed by dipping it into a container filled with water and a mild detergent.
  10. Rinse in a container of clean water until all soap is removed.
  11. Hang the shade and allow it to air dry completely.
  12. Use a clean soft cloth to remove any dust from the light bulb (ensure it has cooled down completely), wire frame and stand.
  13. Reassemble the lamp and enjoy its beauty once again.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • Cleaning your lampshade regularly will be much easier than having to clean away a lot of build-up at once.
  • Do not submerse any lampshades that are glued or taped to the base in water.
  • If your lampshade is pleated, use caution not to create any dents in the pleats as you are cleaning.


  1. Kaserasera says:

    Wow, quick and easy – I keep a clean paintbrush handy. Brush softly with paintbrush and botta-boom, botta-bing, works great and could anything be easier!

  2. Danielle says:

    I was at a loss yesterday trying to figure out how to get the dust off my fabric lampshades. The cloth just made larger dust balls. So I used a sticky lint roller! Worked like magic!

  3. Amy C. says:

    HELP! I have a little lamp on my kitchen counter that has, over time, gotten crud caked on it. It makes me crazy because I am a very, very clean person, especially in the kitchen. It has yellowish-like spots on it. Please help me to get my shade looking new again…if possible. Thank you!!

  4. Laura says:

    A lint roller works like a charm!

  5. Melanie says:

    When the yellowish spots appear on the wall behind my stove, I use a diluted vinegar solution and a paper towel to scrub the spots away. Test a hidden area on your lampshade first to ensure that the vinegar acid cannot damage it. You may want to use a sponge or cloth instead of a paper towel to prevent any paper lint on the shade.

  6. Linda says:

    After brushing the shade and cleaning the inside, I used a microfiber cloth barely moistened, using circular motions, to clean off the nicotine and slight stains, then used a soft brush to apply CORNSTARCH to the fabric. After it had sat for a few minutes, I brushed it off with a soft cloth. It looks pretty good!

  7. Wendy says:

    Looking for some cleaning advice please. I have two black lady (green ballerina and mermaid) lamps with the original vinyl shades and the years have made the shades quite dirty; they are pleated vinyl in black and green. How can I bring them back to life? What could I clean them with; white vinegar perhaps or mild detergent? They are so lovely, but the dirty shades need work. Thanks.

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  8. Julie says:

    I cleaned my shades with a lint brush, just moving it up and down the sides of the shades; it seems to work pretty good…so if you have a lint brush, it’s for more than removing lint from clothes.

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