How to Quickly Clean Lamp Shades – The Simple, Easy Way

lamp shade in front of window at home

If you buy something through a link in our posts, we may get a small share of the sale.

When doing your routine cleaning, dusting the lamp shades may not be on the top of your list, until you notice a thick layer of grime and dust. When you want to learn how to clean lamp shades, then follow these methods to clean your lamp shade and manage a routine that keeps them looking great.

Practice Light Dusting

How do you clean lamp shades can be a spur of the moment question. When it comes to cleaning these forgotten surfaces, the answer is easier than you would think.

The best way to clean your lamp shades is to begin working them into a scheduled cleaning. This will take care of dust as it happens so that you don’t end up with dust and grime buildup.

lamp on a table with flowers how to clean lamp shades

Weekly Dusting

When you are doing your weekly dusting, take a moment to dust your lamp shades, inside and out. No matter what type of lamp shade you have, this standard dusting is gentle enough to clean paper lamp shades yet effective enough to pull dust off of cloth lamp shades.

You do not need to remove the lamp shades unless it is difficult to reach them with a cloth or duster wand. Make sure that the bulb is cool before you begin. You could unplug the lamp but it is not necessary since you won’t be using any water. 

Take a cloth or duster wand and run it around the inside and outside of the lamp shade. Using a microfiber cloth is great for trapping and collecting dust, although a feathered wand is quicker and contours to fit in tighter spaces with ease.

​Weekly Vacuuming

You could opt to use a vacuum attachment to vacuum out the dust. This is very helpful for lamp shades that are pleated or have grooves. Canister vacuums work really well for this type of cleaning, as they naturally come with a wand and extender. 

It is not recommend to use a dusting spray on paper or parchment based lamp shades since the materials are porous and can be damaged. If you choose to use dusting spray on cloth lamp shades then spray them on the cloth or duster instead of spraying directly on the lamp shades.

Learn Spot Cleaning

How do you clean lamp shades when it is just a small spot? You don’t want to turn that bad spot to the wall to hide it. However, cleaning it with the wrong technique might spread the spot, or make it harder to clean and remove.

​Follow these steps to ​eliminate a single small spot that you find on your lamp shade:

  • 1
    ​Use a damp cloth that has cleaner applied to it
  • 2
    ​Work the cleaner into the spot by gently rubbing the cloth around the area
  • 3
    ​Use a second dry cloth to buff the area to remove the spot

When you apply the cleaner to a damp cloth instead of spraying it onto the shade, you are holding control over the moisture and allowing your lamp shade not to be over saturated. Also make sure that you are not pressing down too hard on the lamp shade, as this can damage the shade.

Using a mild dish detergent like dawn will work fine for spot, or you can use a few of these tried and true natural stain removers. Just make sure that you read the lamp shade care instructions to make sure that you are not using a product that will harm the material.

Quick Tip: If you're in a hurry, try pulling out a cord free car vacuum and gently run it over the lampshade. This act can take as little as 30 seconds and be great for a spot clean.

If this spot cleaning method does not work then you may need to try a deeper cleaning like submerging and soaking your lamp shade.

lamp shade in front of window at home

Submerge and Clean

Learning how to clean cloth lamp shades can be a large task when your lamp shade has a build up of grime. When you need more than just a little dusting, there is a more effective way to bring your lamp shade back to it’s original glory.

Before you begin cleaning, check to see if there are any manufacturers directions on how to or how not to clean your lamp shade. If not, you'll need to assume that you can follow a standard cleaning procedure to clean the lampshade. 


Below are the instructions for cleaning a standard cloth or fabric lamp shade.

  • 1
    ​​Unplug the lamp and wait until the bulb has cooled to remove the lamp shade
  • 2
    ​​Use a cloth or duster to remove any dust. You can also opt to use a vacuum attachment to remove the dust

​​Cleaning Solution

You can use your sink or bathtub to wash your lamp shades:

  • 1
    ​​Fill your chosen basin with warm water. You will need enough to cover at least half of your shade​
  • 2
    ​​Add a few drops of Dawn to the water
  • 3
    ​​Agitate the water with your hands to get the suds blooming. Add ​more soap as needed


Now its time to wash the lampshade:

  • 1
    ​Sit your lamp shade in the water and let it soak for about ten minutes
  • 2
    ​Rotate the lamp shade so that all sides get equal soaking time.
  • 3
    ​Use a damp cloth to wipe down the lamp shade, using even strokes from top to bottom.
  • 4
    ​Drain the basin and refill with warm water, no soap.
  • 5
    ​Gently dip and move your lamp shade from side to side. This will help remove all the leftover soap.
  • 6
    ​Drain the basin and try to shake as much water out of the lamp shade as you can.


Dry and Reattach: 

  • 1
    ​You can let the shade air dry while sitting on a towel or use a hair dryer on the low setting.
  • 2
    ​Once the lamp shade is completely dry then reattach it to the lamp base.

If you are wanting to know how to clean lamp shades that are paper or parchment then you will need a more delicate cleaning method. The fabric or cloth lamp shades are strong enough to handle being submerged in water without breaking or losing it’s shape.

If using a mild detergent like dawn doesn’t seem to clean your lamp shade as much as you like then you can try other home made cleaners. A mild detergent will take care of dirt and grime, but if you are dealing with stains then you may need a more powerful cleaner.


Learning how to clean lamp shades and working to maintain them is a great way to make your home brighter and dust free. Not to mention, you'll keep the allergens at bay and maintain a healthier home.

​If you​ enjoyed this article, make sure to check out our ​other cleaning guides:

About the Author Lauren Moldvay

Lauren Moldvay is a freelance writer from Virginia and the mother of one (not always) sweet little girl. She specializes in trying to help others find easier ways to clean, manage the home and save money with DIY projects.