The Lamp and Lampshade Cleaning FAQs

  • Unplug the cord, take off the shade and then unscrew the bulbs and put them down in a safe place.
  • Dust the base.
  • Swish up warm soap or detergent suds in the kitchen sink. Set the lamp on the counter or on a table next to the sink. Put it over a towel so it won't slip.
  • If the base is washable, wash it all over with suds, but don't get the cord wet. Wipe the suds off with a clean sponge rinsed under running water. Dry the lamp with a clean cloth. Many metal lamps should only be wiped off with a damp cloth and dried with a paper towel.
  • If there is a glass globe or chimney, wash it in deep suds. Use a bottle brush to scrub it inside. Rinse it with hot water and wipe it dry.
  • To wash the cord, wring a sudsy sponge almost dry and fold it in half. Pull the cord between the two layers of the folded sponge. Then wipe the cord dry. Don't let the plug get wet.
  • Hold each bulb by the metal "neck" so that part won't get wet. Wipe the glass with a damp sudsy cloth. Then rinse it with a clean damp cloth, and wipe it with a dry cloth.
  • Add a few drops of ammonia to the rinse water for glass lamps, chimneys, and globes. This will give them extra sparkle.
  • If a brass or copper lamp does not have a special no-tarnish finish, you can polish it or wax it after you wash and dry it.

And Now Get Ready to Wash the Lampshade

  • Use a clean soft cloth or a vacuum brush to dust the lampshade inside and outside.
  • Take off any non-washable trim.
  • If the cloth is glued to the frame, sew it on with thread of the same color.
  • Then you will be able to wash it over and over again without any trouble.

Fabric Shades

  • Fill a deep washtub or bathtub with enough warm water to cover the shade.
  • Add detergent and swish up thick suds. Use a mild detergent, as a hand dish-washing liquid.
  • Use suds on a soft brush to rub any spots lightly.
  • Then dip the shade up and down.
  • When the water gets dirty, change to clean sudsy water.
  • Wash the shade a second time.
  • To rinse the shade, dip it up and down through two or three changes of clean water.

Don't worry if the cloth stretches and sags while it is wet. It will tighten up for a snug fit when it gets dry.

To dry a fabric shade, tie a string to the middle of the frame. Then hang it over the bathtub or hang it from a clothesline outdoors to drip dry. OR you can wipe the shade with a bath towel until it is almost dry. Then put it back on the lamp and turn on the light so the heat from the bulb will help it to finish drying.

Plastic, Plastic Coated, Laminated, Parchment or Fiberglass

  • Put 1/4 cup mild detergent into a bowl.
  • Add just enough warm water to make it wet.
  • Whip this mixture with an egg beater or an electric mixer to make stiff "dry" suds that look like whipped cream.
  • Put some of the thick suds on a cloth or sponge. Use this to wash the shade, inside and outside.
  • If the binding around the edge is glued on, don't rub it or let it get very wet.
  • Rinse the shade right away by going over it with a clean damp cloth.
  • Then wipe it dry.
  • If the lamp has a reflector bowl, take this out and wash it like a dish. Use warm suds and warm rinse water.
  • Then wipe it dry.