How to Clean an Old Lampshade

Everything is well and good with your lampshade until it starts to emit an amber-tainted glow. In this instance, you may begin to think that it has something to do with the bulb and not the lampshade itself. 


Well, as lampshades age, they start to become yellow. You might be surprised to find out that this yellowish taint on your lampshade is caused by dust and dirt. But you better take it easy before you automatically start shopping for a new one. Please understand that you can still restore your lampshade and make it look brand new. 

Clean an Old and Yellowed Lampshade


To make your lampshade look pristine once again, you just have to give them a bath in your tub. This will allow you to save more dollars while at the same time, make you keep your favorite lampshade. 


Here are some care tips you have to keep in mind while cleaning up your yellowing lampshade. Remember that lampshades are made out of various materials, and with each one comes a unique cleaning method. 


Prepare the Things You Need for Cleanup

Before anything, it's best if you keep all the cleaning materials in check. These items include laundry detergent for delicate fabric, a scrub brush with nylon bristles or a soft toothbrush, and a rag or sponge. Also, prepare your vacuum cleaner, lint roller, or microfiber cloth. Furthermore, keep soap handy such as baby shampoo, dishwashing liquid, or liquid laundry soap. 


Keep these cleaning materials close by while you're processing your lampshade. This way, you will avoid making numerous trips to your utility closet, saving you some time and effort. 


Laminated Fabric, Fiberglass, or Parchment

If your lampshade was made from one of these materials, clean it by adding one or two tablespoons of warmed up water into a quarter cup of soft laundry detergent. Mix these in a moderately sized bowl. 


Next, whip them up by hand or by using an electric mixer. Beat until you see thick suds that are similar to whipped cream. 


Then, using a rag or a sponge, scoop up some of the mixed soap and apply it onto your lampshade. Make sure that it is covered inside and out, as well as the top and bottom of the shade. If your lamp uses a reflector bowl in it, you need to wipe this clean too. 


Next, rinse your rag or sponge thoroughly and then start wiping out suds from your lampshade. Then, you have to rinse and wring out the sponge or rag. Wipe the suds from the lampshade. 


Finally, using a towel, pat the shade to expel the water. To dry it up quickly, you can fan-dry your lampshade or place it outdoors. 


Synthetic or Cotton Fabric

If your lampshade is made from synthetic fabric or cotton, you first have to take care of removing the dirt and dust.  You can do so by using a microfiber piece of cloth. Also, you can make use of your vacuum's upholstery brush or even a lint roller with sticky tape.   


Next, you have to adequately fill a late basin or your bathtub with warm water then allow your shade to get rinsed freely in it. 


You then have to mix a teaspoon of baby shampoo, dishwashing liquid, or liquid laundry soap with the water. Ensure that the soap you'll be using is suitable for the synthetic or cotton material of your lampshade. 


Mix it gently with the water using your hand until you see bubbles. If you want to whiten your shade some more, pick a laundry soap that has oxygen bleach. 


Next, slowly lower your lampshade in the water while holding its metal frame. If it's extra dirty, soak it for at least 15 minutes.  After that, wet the rag or sponge with the soapy water and use it to wipe the shade clean in a downwards motion. If you find stained spots, use a scrub brush with nylon bristles or a gentle toothbrush to remove them. 


Remove the soap water from the basin and change it with warmed up water. Then, dip the shade in it to remove all the soap.  Finally, pat-dry the lampshade using a towel, and fan-dry or put it outdoors for faster drying. 


Extra Tip

If your lampshade is made from silk or is sequined or beaded heavily, you have to consult an expert cleaner for proper care. 



An old and yellowed lampshade doesn't necessarily have to mean that you have to purchase a new one. Follow the cleaning steps and tips above so you can maintain your favorite lampshade and save a lot of dollars.