How to Clean a Pleated Silk Lampshade

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Pleated lampshades can collect dust and dirt.

Pleated silk lampshades are quite beautiful. Unfortunately, they are also quite adept at collecting dust. To clean yours, you'll need to vacuum away any dust that you can and then give the shade a dunk in the bathtub. This cleaning technique works well for most fabric lampshades. Painted or antique shades, however, are best left to the professionals to clean.


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Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum with brush attachment

  • Nylon stocking (optional)

  • Powdered or liquid silk laundry detergent

  • White washcloth

Step 1

Unscrew the cap on the top of the lamp and lift the shade off. Some shades are held in place by the light bulb itself, so you'll have to remove the bulb to free the shade.

Step 2

Vacuum as much dust as possible from the lampshade with the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner. When vacuuming, always vacuum with the pleats. Move the vacuum up and down the lampshade rather than around its circumference, as this makes cleaning pleats much easier. If your lampshade has beads or other accessories, you can vacuum them by placing a nylon stocking over your vacuum cleaner hose. This trick allows dirt to get sucked into the vacuum without pulling your decorative trim in along with it.


Step 3

Remove any trim from the lampshade, such as beads or contrasting braiding, if possible.

Step 4

Fill a large container or your bathtub with enough lukewarm water to submerge the lampshade. Add one-half scoop or cap-full of silk laundry detergent to the water, and mix until suds form on the surface of the water. Designed to work with silk and other delicate fabrics, silk laundry detergent prevents staining, watermarks, color fading or other problems that may occur with a regular detergent. You can use any detergent designed for delicate fabrics for similar effectiveness.


Step 5

Dip a clean white washcloth into your soapy water, and spot clean any stains you find on the lampshade. Gently dab at the stain with the washcloth, absorbing as much of it as possible. Never rub stains, because this may cause them to spread.


Always use a white washcloth for this task to avoid accidentally transferring dye from your washcloth to the lampshade.

For tough stains, apply glycerin to the silk; let it sit for 30 minutes, <ahref="https:"" how-to-get-stains-out-of-silk-fabric="" "=""> </ahref="https:>and then rinse the area with warm water.

Step 6

Place the lampshade into the bathtub, and gently swish it up and down and back and forth to fully wet it. If the pleats are still holding a lot of dirt, run your finger down each one to loosen stubborn dust and debris. Leave the shade to sit in the soapy water for a few minutes.

Step 7

Drain the water from the tub and fill it with clean water. Rinse the lampshade by swishing it gently back and forth in the water. If the water gets dirty, drain the tub and repeat the rinsing process.


Step 8

Place the lampshade in a well-ventilated room where air circulates, such as a laundry room with a fan. You can also dry the shade outside, in a shaded area to prevent the sun from bleaching the fabric. Allow the lampshade to air dry. Don't worry if the shade seems saggy after washing. As it dries, it will shrink back to its original firmness. You can speed the drying process with a hairdryer set on cool.

Step 9

Reattach any trim you removed from the lampshade before you cleaned it. Place the shade back on the lamp and screw the top back on.


This cleaning method will also work for other pleated lampshade fabric types. Simply change the type of cleaning solution for the particular fabric. A delicate laundry detergent formula should work for all fabric types.



Home is where the heart is, and Michelle frequently pens articles about ways to keep yours looking great and feeling cozy. Whether you want help organizing your closet, picking a paint color or finishing drywall, Michelle has you covered. If she's not puttering in the house, you'll find her in the garden playing in the dirt. Her garden articles provide tips and insight that anyone can use to turn a brown thumb green. You'll find her work on Modern Mom, The Nest and eHow as well as sprinkled throughout your other online home decor and improvement favorites.