How to Clean Silk Lampshades

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Regular dusting with the brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner should be enough to keep your silk lampshades looking their best. If age or staining cause the shade to require a deeper cleaning, spot treatments followed by a dunk in the bathtub can make your shades look fresh again.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner with attachments
  • Cornmeal (optional)
  • Large garbage bag (optional)
  • Mild or hand washing laundry detergent
  • Warm water
  • Bathtub or large basin
  • Clean rag or soft brush

Step 1: Vacuum the shade.

Remove dust from the shade by vacuuming it off with your vacuum cleaner's brush attachment. Be sure to pull the dust out of all of the pleats and crevices on the shade.

Tip

  • Can't find your vacuum cleaner attachments? Place the lampshade in a large plastic trash bag and completely cover it with cornmeal. Close the bag and shake vigorously until the cornmeal all falls off the shade. When it does, it will take the dust with it.

Step 2: Prepare a bath.

Fill your bathtub or a large clean container with enough warm water to completely cover the shade. Add a scoop of mild laundry detergent designed for babies, or one designed for hand-washing silks and other delicate fabrics. Mix to create sudsy water.

Step 3: Spot treat.

Collect some soapsuds on a soft brush or clean cloth. Use them to gently scrub away any stains or dark spots on the lampshade. Move the brush or cloth in a circular motion.

Step 4: Dunk it.

After spot treating, immerse the entire lampshade in the water, and then swish it up and down. Drain the tub, and then refill it with soapy water again, repeating the process until the lampshade no longer makes the water dirty.

Warning

  • If your lampshade has a hard back, do not immerse it in water. Wash the shade with a rag covered in soapsuds, and rinse it using a clean rag that is damp but not wet.

Tip

    • If your shade has trim pieces that should not get wet, carefully remove
      them before dunking the shade. You can reattach them later with glue or a bit of thread if
      necessary.
    • The silk fabric of your lampshade may stretch out a bit during washing. Don't worry about this -- the shade will shrink back to its normal size as it dries.

Step 5: Rinse.

When you're done cleaning, empty the tub or basin and refill it with plain warm water. Dip the lampshade in, pulling it up and down, until soapsuds stop coming out of the shade. You may need to drain and refill the tub several times to get all of the soap out of the shade.

Step 6: Dry.

Place the lampshade on a clean towel to dry, or on top of a clothes drying rack.

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