Cleaning a pleated silk lampshade presents somewhat of a problem. The pleats in the shade capture dirt, which is difficult to remove by dusting or by vacuuming with a brush attachment. The best way to clean a pleated silk lampshade is to create a makeshift washing tub in the bathtub and clean it by hand. Painted shades or antique shades should only be cleaned by a professional to prevent damage to the cloth or lampshade frame.
Unscrew the lampshade from the lamp and remove it. Take the lampshade into the bathroom or other easy-to-clean area. You don't have to vacuum the shade in the bathroom, but it is easiest to complete the entire cleaning process in one place. If dust flies, it is easier to clean from a hard surface than from a cloth surface, where the dust may get trapped in the fibres of the cloth.
Vacuum as much dust as possible from between the pleats with the brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner.
Remove any trim from the lampshade, such as beads or contrasting braid, if possible.
Fill a bathtub with enough lukewarm water to submerge the lampshade.
Add one-half scoop or cap-full of silk washing powder to the water and mix in until suds form on the surface of the water. Silk washing powder is designed to use with silk and other delicate fabrics to prevent staining, watermarks, colour fading or other problems that may occur with a regular detergent. You can also use a detergent designed for delicate fabrics for similar effectiveness. Submerge the lampshade into the water.
Scrub the sides of the lampshade gently with a soft bristle brush. Take care not to destroy the pleats with the brush. Use your fingers to gently wash between the pleats. Allow the shade to sit in the tub for about 10 minutes. This allows the soap inside the tub to work the dust deep in the fibres of the silk to the surface.
Drain the water from the tub and fill with clean water. Rinse the lampshade by swishing it gently back and forth in the water. If the water gets dirty, drain and repeat the rinsing process.
Place the lamp in a well-ventilated room where air circulates, such as a 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.
This cleaning method will also work for other pleated lampshade fabric types. Simply change the type of cleaning solution for the designated fabric. A delicate washing powder formula should work for all fabric types.