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How to Clean a Fabric Lampshade
by Jan White

Lampshades can get quite dirty and dusty and eventually they become a bit of an eye-sore if you don't dust them regularly. Eventually it's a case of get them clean (and save money) or replace them.

The process below works best for silk, rayon or nylon shades. Linen, cotton and any hand painted shades don't take well to being dipped in water - but then what have you got to lose if your lamp shades are now past their best? You may as well give it a try before you give up and buy new.

If you have an antique or valuable lampshade however then don't try to clean it yourself - you need a specialist cleaner for this. Some dry cleaners may be able to assist you though I must admit my local dry cleaner is reluctant to take anything without a care label so you may have to search for a real expert.

To clean a fabric lampshade yourself:

1. Remove the shade from the lamp then use a dry cloth or vacuum brush to clean the surface of the lamp shade inside and out of any dust.

2. Remove the trim from the lampshade if this is not be washable or if the color may run into the shade itself and wash separately (if it is washable).

3. Fill a sink or bathtub with warm water deep enough to submerge the lamp shade completely. Add some mild detergent - the kind used to hand wash delicate silk and woolen garments is best.

4. Submerge the lampshade in the warm soapy water and use a soft cloth or brush and some extra soap to gently run any particularly dirty areas or dirt spots.

5. Gently swish the lampshade up and down through the soapy water

6. Empty out the soapy water and refill the basin with clean warm water. Rinse the shade

7. If the shade is particularly dirty repeat steps 4 and 5

8. Leave the shade to dry naturally where air can circulate to prevent rusting of the frame. Although the fabric may appear to stretch when wet it will usually tighten up and return to its original state (though cleaner!) as it dries.

9. Reattach the old trim with a few stitches around the lamp or by gluing in place with non-flammable glue. If the old trim is detracting from the splendor of your now-clean lamp shade think about re-trimming your lamp with ribbon, braid, beads or fringing.

10. I have seen a household tip once where someone cleaned a lampshade with a piece of soft white bread - rolling the bread into a doughy ball and then running it over the surface of the shade. I haven't tried this myself so though I can imagine it being reasonably effective you may want to try it on a lamp shade that doesn't matter to you. Or if the dirt is not too ingrained try a lint roller which is great on dust.

Jan White has a passion for interior design. For more information about making the best of the lighting in your home, how to select the best lamp shades for your interior and how to save money as you shop see her information blog

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