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Cleaning your Lamp Shades 101

May 27th, 2009 · No Comments · Lamps, Lighting Tips

Let’s face it, dust happens and lamp shades tend to be dust magnets.

It’s always recommended that you follow the manufacturers cleaning/care information that came with your lamp or lighting fixture.   However, like most of us, you have probably discarded that information.   Keeping your lamp shades and fixtures clean will improve their light output, appearance and longevity.

Depending on the material your shade is made from there are various ways of cleaning it.  Here are some general guidelines for maintaining those lamp shades:

Glass Shades

  • Regularly dust with a soft lint-free cloth or dusting wand.
  • Occasionally, remove the shades from their fittings and wipe both the inside and outside with a damp cloth.    If you are at all concerned with using a damp cloth, rule of thumb would dictate use of a dry cloth.
  • Care should be taken if there is any sort of pattern as excess water or rubbing may damage transfers, hand-painted surfaces, coloring or lead solder.
  • Wipe with a soft, dry cloth until dry.
  • Before re-assembly, dust the light bulb and fittings.

Fabric Shades

  • The best tool to dust a paper shade is an unused, clean, soft-bristled painter’s brush or a hairdryer with a cool/cold setting.   Contrary to popular belief, fabric shades should never be vacuumed.  Most vacuums on the market today are too powerful and may stretch or damage the fabric.
  • Starting at the top of the lamp shade, use a downward long stroke to dust, rotate the shade and repeat.  Do not brush too firmly as this may snag, tear or stretch the shade.
  • The inner surface of shades with inner plastic/hard liners can be wiped down with a clean, soft cloth.   Shades with such surfaces should never be washed or dampened as the two materials tend to separate and fall apart.
  • Some fabric shades that have been stitched to their frame may be washed in a bath of warm, soapy water utilizing a delicate laundry soap.  The fabric may stretch or sag when wet.  Most fabrics will regain their shape as they dry.  Rinse the lamp shade in a bath of clean water until no suds remain.  Attach a string to the center frame, hang and let air dry. Do not immerse in water if the shade has delicate trim, beading or has been glued/ taped to its frame.  If you are concerned with the fabric type getting wet, contact your local dry cleaner.
  • Before re-assembly, dust the light bulb and fittings.

Paper Shades

  • Paper shades are especially delicate to handle and clean.  The best tool to dust a paper shade is an unused, clean, soft-bristled painter’s brush.
  • Never vacuum a paper shade as it may snag, tear or stretch the paper.
  • Starting at the top of the lamp shade, use a downward long stroke to dust, rotate the shade and repeat.  Do not brush too firmly as this may snag, tear or stretch the shade.
  • Never use water or damp cloth on the outside of the paper shade.
  • The inner surfaces of shades with inner plastic liners can be wiped down with a clean, soft cloth.
  • Before re-assembly, dust the light bulb and fittings.

Remember, for your safety, always unplug your fixture prior to cleaning.   Got other cleaning tips?  We would love to hear from you if you have lamp shade cleaning tips.

Here are some other cleaning tips from other sites:

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