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How to clean fabric lampshades – Some dos and donts

Like any other item in your home, lampshades are also likely to get worn out with accumulation of dust, cobwebs, lint, pet hair and more. All these surface particles gather up and over a period of time tend to dull the sheen and look of the lampshade. Knowing how to clean them can be handy when you want to get your fabric lampshades sparkling again.

Take precaution : As a precaution it is better to remove the lampshade from either the lamp or from its hanging unit before cleaning.

Removing accumulated surface particles on the lampshade

Before anything make sure your hands are clean and absolutely dry. 

  • Clean cloth : Use a clean cotton cloth to dust off the  fabric to remove off any dust / lint particles. Use rapid vertical motion to knock off the particles. Avoid applying any pressure using the cloth onto the shade. You do not want to give dirt a permanent place in your shade.
  • Hair Dryer : You can also use a blower / hair dryer (set to release cool air) to quickly remove dust and complement it with dry cloth dusting.
  • Paint brush : Use a clean painting brush (Preferably about 1-2 inch thick bristles) on lampshades with textured fabric like jute or raw silk or some linen cloth. Brush off the dust with gentle motion of the brush. You can complement it with a hair dryer.
  • Avoid moisture : Avoid using moist or damp cloth on fabric lampshades. Most shades use glue to hold the fabric in place and moisture might weaken the strength of the glue. If you must, use a mildly damp cloth and wipe off the surface gently and uniformly. You also need to remember to not leave any damp spot which after drying might leave a different coloured patch on that part the fabric.
Cleaning the inside of a lampshade

All hard lampshades come with a plastic sheet layer inside. You can use a wet cloth to wipe off the dust inside and then follow it up by cleaning with a dry and clean cloth.The inside layer is just as prone to dust accumulation as the fabric that is outside. 

You need to clean the metal frames too that are visible on the inside of the shade. Just wipe it off with a dry cloth.

How to remove persistent stains ?

A finger print. Or a pen mark. a coffee stain. A paint spill. What do we do ? Particularly an eye sore if it is on a white or other light coloured shades. Wish we have a clear answer to this question. While there could be ways to remove the stains it may not be without making the after effect look worse than before.
A stain remover might do the job well. But might leave the spot with an effect of dampness after drying. One needs to tread this with caution as it should not shift from being bad to worse.

In most cases here, we recommend that you do not introduce any foreign element to the fabric on the lampshade. We do not know how they would react and what kind of mark they would leave. We always suggest that you change the position of the lampshade so that the stained portion is not visible. Not the best of options… But may be your best bet given the choices you may have.

Rust formation on the fabric

This will happen mostly on the top and bottom rim of the lampshades because the frames would have not be painted properly. The metal inside is reacting and is pushing the rust from beneath. There is nothing much that you can do here as the rust is working its way up from beneath the fabric. Rust formation eventually is going to be a permanent problem. Use the shade for as long as you can before you can get a replacement.

A word of advice that is redundant : Not everything on a lampshade can be removed. So it is always better to avoid spills and stains and pen marks on them. Worst case scenario is to have your lampshades changed and it is a low cost replacement depending on whether you go for offtheshelf shades or want to get one custom made. 

A request to the reader : Have you successfully removed persistent stains from your lampshades ? What method did you use. You can leave a comment and we will update our post with due credits to you.  

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