Asked on Jul 22, 2013

Does anyone know how to clean a fabric lampshade?

Leslie D
by Leslie D
I bought two gorgeous, new with tags, crystal Lampworks table lamps at auction a couple of weeks ago ($60 for the pair...retail of over $400...wooohooo). However, the lampshades both appear that someone who was there to buy the tools/car parts they auction touched the shades and left dirty finger/hand prints on the fabric. I once tried the "dunk in Woolite/Water method, rinse, and gently pat dry method" and the shade fabric became loose and never went back into shape (although it did clean it). I've heard baby wipes may work? I really don't want to replace/recover/paint the shades, and hoped someone here had a tried and true method that wouldn't leave sagging, wrinkled fabric or the brown water stains that always seem to appear when a shade gets wet. I have included a photo of one of the handprints and a pic of the two lamps I got. Thanks!
Tragic, huh?
  37 answers
  • Z Z on Jul 22, 2013
    Tragic is right Leslie. I hope someone here knows how to clean it with out damaging it. Those are gorgeous lamps!
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jul 22, 2013
    With the size of the hand print, I think Sasquatch previewed the auction!
  • Z Z on Jul 22, 2013
    Ha ha ha. Not being sure of the size of the shade I didn't comment before, but I did think it looked big. Seeing this again it made me think it probably needs to be dry cleaned so I Googled dry clean lamp shade and found this:
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jul 22, 2013
    I hadn't even thought of dry-cleaning....wonder if my local dry-cleaner can do this. thanks, Becky!
  • Z Z on Jul 22, 2013
    You're welcome Leslie. I hope they can take care of them for you although I'm curious about the dry cleaning sponge mentioned in the article I linked.
  • Jim L Jim L on Jul 24, 2013
    First, in a small spot, try an art-gum eraser... There is a "special sponge" that can be used on hard-back shades. If it is a silk shade, wash it in a sink of water with Dawn, sponge it on and then spray rinse...put it in the sun to dry. You can also use a hair-drayer...Good luck.
  • Karon Nelson Roberts Karon Nelson Roberts on Jul 24, 2013
    Have you tried Oxiclean? Make into a paste, use an old toothbrush and scrub. Use a damp cloth to wipe off. Let dry in sun.
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jul 24, 2013
    I haven't tried anything yet. I did a wet clean method in the past with horrible results of wrinkling of the fabric. They're hard plastic lined, with a linen-type fabric, and glued trim, so I can't dunk them in anything for fear of having the glue fail. I haven't tried an oxyclean paste, but I have spot-cleaned shades in the past and a few have left water rings when they dry. I'm going to check with my dry-cleaner and if he can't do it, I may as well try some of the methods you all have suggested. Worst case is that I end up buying new shades...which I hate the thought of because they will cost me more than the lamps, and I'm thrifty (a cheapskate) One of my friends told me to use "slime"...the green, gooey stuff that comes in a bucket that kids play with. She said her kids were throwing it one day in her house and they hit the ceiling with it. It came right off without any slime residue, and left a nice, visible clean spot. She said she's used it on lamp shades and fingerprints on walls ever since. She said it pulls every bit of dirt off without damage. Maybe the manufacturers of slime have no idea what they may hold as a cleaning product! LOL
    • J Brown J Brown on Jan 17, 2020

      when visiting granddaughter a few weeks ago I learned you can make "slime" it has liquid laundry detergent. probably find the recipe on Google

  • Z Z on Jul 24, 2013
    OH my gosh that's funny. I'll have to look for that stuff next time I'm toy shopping with our Grandson. It did make me think of Goop though. I had an awesome off white pant suit way back in the seventies when pant suits were the rage, that I accidentally got some auto/black type grease on. My Mom got it out by using my Dad's hand cleaner. I used to keep some in the laundry room, but haven't thought of it in a long time. I wonder if it's similar to Slime?
  • Columbia1 Columbia1 on Jul 24, 2013
    There is a National Cleaners Association. and use their "Contact Us" choice. They have several ways to contact them. I have known people to contact them when they have a problem to solve.
  • Tracy McLean Packman Tracy McLean Packman on Jul 24, 2013
    this is going to sound weird, but it works for me. first vacuum it, if it's just dust it'll come off. then take a piece of stale white bread, squash it up a bit and rub the stain with the bread, there'll be crumbs on the floor, but it might take the stains off without wetting & ruining the shade. it works a treat on wallpaper too.
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jul 24, 2013
    Thanks, Columbia...I will try that. Tracy, white bread doesn't sound any weirder than Slime! LOL
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Jul 24, 2013
    Make really sudsy water, and use a soft brush and just the suds to clean with when the suds start looking dirty rinse and make more sudsy water. Columbia1 has the best solution. My grandmother used this method but is it best way to clean? I would write them what would it hurt? Then tell us!
    • 861650 861650 on Oct 26, 2018

      What a great idea. Maybe using distilled water in some cases would be better. Water from faucet can leave residue and "rings" on just about everything... I use white vinegar and water for cleaning and I mist it on just about everything, fabrics, walls, carpet, etc. to freshen them up. That's when I found out about the water.

  • Larose LoganOakes Larose LoganOakes on Jul 24, 2013
    Hello Leslie! I looked up in my copy of " Talking Dirty Laundry With The Queen of the Clean" by Linda Cobb and on page 96 she talks about cleaning sheepskin and I know this is not what you are trying to clean but hear me out. She talks about using a dry carpet cleaning powder by Host or Capture.I have never heard of these products before but it might be worth a shot as it is dry cleaning without any H2O.She recommends that you sprinkle the cleaner onto the fleece (in your case the lampshade) and work it in well with your fingers wearing gloves of course ( roll up the sheepskin(( in your case the lampshade)) and slip it into a plastic bag for 8 hours then shake or vacuum to remove the powder.) This reminds me of the old fashioned way of cleaning silk flowers by putting them into a paper bag with salt and shaking the bag for awhile and then remove.Let me know if you decide to try this and how it works out for you. Good Luck! Larose:) P.S. This book was copyrighted in 2001.
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jul 24, 2013
    Thank you Larose!
  • Larose LoganOakes Larose LoganOakes on Jul 24, 2013
    I am not sure if my message about the lampshade sponge cleaner showed up or not but I found it on the net and thought that you might be interested. It only costs $7.95 and it appears to work. Good Luck! L:)
  • Michael Willis Michael Willis on Jul 24, 2013
    This is not a a hotel I worked at we put stained fabric ones in the closed swimming pool at night. Take them out set to dry, they ended up perfect. I have used same ideal at home in kitchen sink with about 1/8 cup bleach. Roll it several times over the couple hours for even coating.
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jul 24, 2013
    Thanks, Michael, but I can't submerse these. The trim is glued on and it will loosen the glue. Otherwise, I would go throw them in my pool right now....LOL
  • Z Z on Jul 24, 2013
    The sponge that @Laroseposted looks just like the sponges I bought to clean the cat fur off my upholstered furniture. I have a few of them on hand but no greasy lampshades to try test them on. Oh and these sponges are more expensive when sold for pet fur removal. Anyway if you have pets you might want to buy one of the sponges and try it. There's nothing in them that would stain the shades worse than they are.
  • Shelly Giorgis Shelly Giorgis on Jul 24, 2013
    Hi! I have a few suggestions, a carpet cleaner gave me the tip to remove carpet spots by using club soda. pour a little on a cotton ball and dab it on the stain. It works great on clothes too. If that doesn't work he told me to use shaving cream on the spot, let it dry to a powder and brush it out. Another idea, fabric stain remover like Zout or Shout. Lastly. if you own a carpet cleaner like the little green machine and use a mild soap or Dawn Pure to clean the spot out. Linen is a tricky fabric. Good Luck!
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Jul 25, 2013
    Soap suds. Use a sponge and only soap suds to clean the lamp. Pickup the soap suds, and rub in the lamp.
  • 8498tx 8498tx on Jul 25, 2013
    it almost looks like the giant was walking by and knocked the lamp over and grabbed just the shade to keep it from toppling! Not sure why there would be just a big handprint right there, i am so sorry, but you got a great deal, even if you have to replace the shades, the base is probably where a lot of the cost is. I know the capture is a dry powder and you can sprinkle it and brush in very easily with a brush and then vacuum off I have used it on carpet it would be dry and I would try that first, water or anything moist would be my last resort, knowing that you may just have to replace the shade when you use that to clean it.
  • Jean DeSavage Jean DeSavage on Jul 25, 2013
    Any time you are cleaning decorator fabric always use DISTILLED water! Tap water has minerals that can leave the stain you spoke of. Also if you plan to iron any expensive drapes, linens, or pillow covers use distilled water in your iron, despite the instructions that came with the iron. I have used only distilled water in my irons for years, they last longer and you don't get the rusty stains that can happen when they spit. Hopefully this will help when trying any of the "washing" tips above.
  • Larose LoganOakes Larose LoganOakes on Jul 28, 2013
    Hi Leslie! I am not sure if you have tried to clean the shade or not yet but I had another idea. You might want to try Cream of Tartar or powered chalk. (If you aren't allergic to chalk dust of course.) I would sprinkle one of them on and wait a little while and then brush it off of the shade with a baby tooth brush. I would do the brushing off part outside to keep both of those items out of your house.Let us know what happens.:)
  • Z Z on Jul 29, 2013
    Very good point @Jean. I never gave that a thought. We have Reverse Osmosis water so I use that to clean with and in my iron. @I've heard of Larose idea about using chalk on greasy prints on fabric before, but have never used it. I hope you are able to get these cleaned without spending allot of money.
  • Z Z on Jul 29, 2013
    Thanks @Larose. That's amazing and really it makes sense.
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jul 29, 2013
    I got the lampshades cleaned! I used the suggestion of distilled water, and just barely dampened the corner of a magic eraser. A few swipes over the soiled areas and then blow dried them, and it took all the dirt off! thanks to all for the suggestions!
  • Z Z on Jul 30, 2013
    Woo Hoo! That's awesome Leslie. I just mentioned you in a comment about using an auto upholsterer.
  • Karen Karen on Sep 03, 2014
    I know it's after the fact now but I was going to say (1) call a lamp shop and see what they suggest and (2) yes, believe it or don't, paint thinner. When a carpet I recently had installed had a grease mark the carpet shop cleaned it with paint thinner...slightly dampen a soft cloth, like a cloth diaper with the paint thinner and blot the spot. Worked beautifully and I've done it again since then. I have also used the same technique with auto brake cleaner on drapes. Who knew?
  • Nancy Kast Nancy Kast on Oct 07, 2016
    A damp magic eraser gently rub spots dry with hair dryer
  • Sally Shutt Sally Shutt on Oct 18, 2016
    I have just used spray paint, or paint with a brush. I sprayed the inside of one with gold paint, which did dim the lights on but it was beautiful. Use a primer first if you have some bad spots that won't come out.
  • 12318827839 12318827839 on Mar 03, 2017

    I use a hair drayer to take the dust away.

  • Rebecca Steinmetz Rebecca Steinmetz on Mar 12, 2018

    I use spray and wash. I pour 1/4 cup spray and wash to 1 pint water. Dip sponge in mixture, squeeze out and lightly wipe. If the hand print still will not come off spray “spray n wash“ onto spots work in with tooth brush and wipe off with sponge. I then set a fan on med and circulate air till dry.

  • Dmotan Dmotan on Mar 12, 2018

    When I was a little girl, my mother would buy a product which came in a can, it was pink and we would use it to clean wallpaper. We would gently run it on paper wallpaper and the pink would turn black and the wallpaper would be beautiful. We had coal heat so you can imagine what this did to our lungs and wallpaper. It was amazing. I think play dough may be very similar to this. You could use it on something which is dirty and see how it goes. I have made my own play dough as I wanted to know what was in it. You could google a recipe. I believe mine was flour, salt and water. No oil.

    Made in my food processor. Tried to make too much at one time and it destroyed my food processor.

    Wish you well.

  • Carolyn Gaylord Carolyn Gaylord on Apr 25, 2018

    I used to get an aerosol spray recommended for cleaning silk flowers. It just dissolves the dust & dirt. I used to spray it on my lampshades and needlepoint pictures. Worked great but can't find it any where now, not even on the Internet. Anyone know of it or seen it?

  • Gary Gordon Gary Gordon on Jan 17, 2020

    I used oxide clean laundry detergent, and dawn dish soap. Filled the kitchen sink half way and washed it with the detergent first. Put

    the dawn dish soap on all of it. Scrub it, and let it sit on for an hour.

    put it in the bath tub to wince the soap off.