How to Clean a Yellowed Antique Fiberglass Lamp Shade

You may think that the cool 1950s drum-style lamp shade you found on consignment is made of some type of parchment paper, but it's more likely that it's made of fiberglass.
Vintage fiberglass lamp shades require careful cleaning.Vintage fiberglass lamp shades require careful cleaning.
If you're not sure whether your lamp shade fiberglass or not, take it to an antique dealer to confirm the material before cleaning it. Yellowed fiberglass can be tricky, especially if the yellow cast is caused by layers of very old nicotine. Start with the most gentle methods and work you way up to more intense methods if gentle doesn't get the job done.

Step 1

Remove the fiberglass lamp shade from the lamp. Vacuum the shade using a brush attachment to remove as much dust as possible.

Step 2

Wipe the fiberglass lamp shade with a dry microfiber cloth. Moisten the cloth just slightly and wipe the shade again, using a circular motion to clean the surface evenly.

Step 3

Add about 1 tsp. dish soap to 2 cups water in a large bowl. Beat the solution with an electric mixer, as if you were beating eggs, until you have soap suds you can scoop up without water. Rub the suds on the lampshade with the moist microfiber cloth, drying as you go with a dry microfiber cloth.

Step 4

Clean the shade with water only if there is a thick buildup of grime or nicotine that can't be removed with the other methods; avoid this step if the shade has delicate, non-waterproof trim. Fill a tub with hot water and 1/2 cup of oxygen bleach. The water should be deep enough to fit the shade underwater completely. Submerge the shade for about 30 seconds, then pull it out of the water and wipe it with a dry microfiber cloth. Repeat, if necessary. Allow the hand-dried shade to air dry overnight.

Things You Will Need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Brush attachment
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Mild soap
  • Large bowl
  • Electric mixer
  • Sponge
  • Oxygen bleach

Warnings

  • Spot cleaning may cause water marks. Test a hidden area of the lamp first.
  • Do not try to clean the fiberglass shade with chlorine bleach, as it may cause damage.

About the Author

Delaware-based Daisy Cuinn has been writing professionally since 1997, when she became the features editor for her local biweekly music newspaper. She has been a staff writer and contributor to online and offline magazines, including "What It Is!," Celebrations.com and Slashfood. Cuinn holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Temple University.