How to quickly and properly clean a glass lampshade

We found this excellent vintage glass lamp at our local antique mall. It was solid but looked to be made out of white glass that had turned yellow over time, which is precisely what we wanted.

After about a month or two of use, I noticed that the lampshade had begun to look quite murky, and it needed some TLC. The bottom of the shade appeared cloudy, as if it had water stains over time. I wiped around the outside with a cloth rag but could not get all of the grime off because there were also streaks on the inside where it looked like someone tried wiping it down but only succeeded in creating more lines where the old ones used to be. 

At first, I thought maybe it wasn’t washed well when it was new, but I don’t believe that is because there were no problems with the glass. This is my first time doing something like this, so please share if you have any advice!



Step 1: Wash/Clean

The glass lamp shade looks very grimy and cloudy on the inside. A rag soaked in warm water works well to remove some of the grime around the outside of the lampshade. However, for removing significant dirt streaks from inside the lampshade, use a small amount of dish soap mixed with water. The mixture will foam up, making it easier to see where dirty areas are cleaned off with each wipe. Continue until clean or until all visible layers of grime are removed.

Step 2: Remove Dirt Streaks with Vinegar

Once the glass lampshade is clean, it may still have some noticeable dirt streaks inside of it. These can be removed using plain white vinegar—mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water in a spray bottle. Spray down the lampshade and let sit for 10-15 minutes before wiping off with a dry cloth rag. The mixture will take time to dissolve old grime, so do not use it immediately after cleaning because dirt will rub around instead of coming off quickly.



Step 3: Wash Again

Next, rewash the lamp in a dish soap (which can help break up residual grease) and pat dry thoroughly with a clean cloth rag.

Step 4: Apply Clear Coat Glaze

With the glass lamp shade cleaned to your liking, apply a clear coat glaze made for glass/ceramic to protect it from future grime and keep the clarity of the light inside. The best type of clear coat glaze is one that dries within 15 minutes, so you can cover all parts of the lamp quickly before having to move on to another step. *Spray an even amount over the entire surface area*

Step 5: Dry Once

Let dry for at least 15 minutes before moving on to the next step or using (whichever comes first). If desired, repeat steps 2-4 if necessary for more protection/clarity after drying has taken place.



Step 6: Enjoy!

Your glass lamp shade should look much cleaner and make for a great centerpiece in any room! It was definitely worth the work because it looks just like new now! We use this e12 light bulb to avoid getting too hot.

Step 7: Use Extra Protection

If you plan to use the lamp a lot, you may want to consider using a different type of protection in addition to just brushing off dust or wiping it down with a wet cloth rag. If so, these ideas for how to protect your glass lamp shades will come in handy!

Option 1- Lamp Covers – Lamp covers are essentially any cover that goes over the entire shade and creates a barrier between the light bulb inside and dust outside. The best kind is usually made of silk, so they are very smooth against the surface but durable enough not to be too delicate (since lamps often get handled).

Option 2 – Lamp Glaze 

This would be a great idea if you only plan to use the lamp from time to time since it requires more work and waiting for each coat. For this, start with applying an even layer of plastic vapor barrier (which you can find at your local hardware store) by spreading it on with a credit card or other sturdy piece of plastic and wait an hour before adding another coating. It may take several coats, but the final product is worth it because of how smooth each “glazed” surface becomes! You can also buy specialty glazes that create a protective/reflective barrier over glass for this method.

Option 3 – Lampshade Protector 

A lampshade protector is essentially a type of fabric sleeve you slip over the surface to guard against dust and other dangers. Of course, it’s not 100% effective, but it’s better than nothing (and can still help keep your glass lamp shades protected for occasional users or those that like to touch their lamps often). If you want to give this method a go, check out online store brands such as LampLust, which has different sleeves explicitly made for simple plastic and more elaborate designs.

Option 4 – Lampshade Protector Pouch 

This is a cheap and straightforward way to keep your lamp safe from dust and other particles that may cause damage. It’s essentially a pouch (some come with flaps for added protection). You slip around the neck of the glass lampshade like a necktie and cinch it tight so it covers as much surface area as possible. You can find something similar at most household goods stores or online, but keep in mind that these do not offer as much protection as other methods since they are usually made out of less durable materials such as plastic.

Option 5 – Lampshade Sleeve 

Instead of using a pouch, you can go with just a simple lampshade sleeve that slips around the entire structure. These are usually better in protecting your glass lamp shades since they are made out of thicker fabric and are more expensive in most cases. However, not all sleeves are made with high-quality materials, so it’s best to do some research before making any purchases. A good rule of thumb when shopping for these is to look at reviews online or see if you have friends/family with similar lamps who have one and ask them how durable theirs has been over time!

Remember, these are just a few of the many ways you can protect your glass lamp shades from dust and other dangers. Every shade is unique, so if you have another idea that has worked for you, please share it in a comment here!

 

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