Lamp Shade Learning


20130610-145508.jpgAll right readers, I have a real gem for you all today! In our ever lovely Southern Adventuress’ absence I thought I would fascinate/bore you to tears with instructions on how to clean a lampshade! Don’t get too excited, it’s only Monday after all. To begin, do any of you all own what I like to call home keeping manuals? I mean by that, works of non-fiction designed to explain cleaning methods for everything inside your home? I own quite a few, a couple of which I will talk about here.

My all time favorite is Cheryl Mendelson’s Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House. Going back to cleaning the lampshade, have any of you ever tried to clean a lamp shade? They get so dusty, and then I think well, what now? I had tried vacuuming the shades with my vacuum’s hose attachment, but that only got limited results. I was at my wit’s end. Oh, and feel free to crack any jokes you like about someone at her wit’s end over a dusty lampshade. I’m crazy; I’ve accepted it.

Enter, Cheryl Mendelson’s Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House. Mendelson’s book is a handbook of sorts, a handbook that details how to clean anything in your home. I soon learned with just a quick look at the book’s index, and can I get a round of applause for books with good, thorough indexes? It is possible to safely wash fabric lampshades.

I began by giving my lampshade a thorough vacuum with my vacuum cleaners’ hose attachment. Then I filled my bathtub with enough water to immerse the shade, and mixed in a small amount of mild dish soap. I think I used about two tablespoons; then, with the soft side of a sponge I began gently washing the lampshade, starting with the shades’ side seam. I did the top material first, then the lining. I then rinsed my shade twice in clean, lukewarm water. Finally, I dried the shades with a terrycloth towel and set my shade to dry on my porch.

Mendelson cautions to only attempt this project on a breezy sunny day, so that the shade can dry as quickly as possible. In Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook, she states a fabric lampshade may also be dried with a hair dryer; though, I have not tried this method I think it would certainly work just fine. Of course, it is not possible to wash all lampshades. Those with paper lining can certainly not be washed, and I would be hesitant to wash a painted lamp shade.

However, it is possible to simply wipe down the outside of a fabric shade with paper or parchment lining with a little warm water. Mendelson also cautions about washing shades merely glued to the frame, rather than sewn to the frame. The glue will weaken in the water and the shade will begin to come apart.

Occasionally, Mendelson states she has even had poor results cleaning shades, which appeared washable by all accounts. However, I had very good results, and my lampshade is as good as new! Now, I’m off to wash a few more unsuspecting lampshades! Happy cleaning!

By A.H.


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