How to Clean the Inside of a Glass Lamp

Lamp collage


My neighbor had a garage sale and of course I  had to shop. There are several items that I always look for at a sale. Cool old furniture, artwork, white glassware and lamps. So I was really pumped when I found two pretty old cut glass lamps.  At $5.00 a piece that was a total bargain!  I proudly showed the Hubs and I got that “what in the world?” look from him.  They were totally dirty, had no shade and the base was really worn but I knew they had potential.  They just needed a good cleaning.  Both on the outside AND the inside.  Here is how to clean the inside of a glass lamp!


cloudy lamp base


Sorry this post is a little long, but I don’t want to leave anything out for those of you who haven’t ever taken a lamp apart. I took a really soft cloth, a little windex and gently cleaned the outside of the lamp.  As you can see from the picture above it still had this milky, cloudy look.  Yuck!


lamp harp


Basically, to clean the inside of the lamp you have to take it apart.  Which is really easy.  A lamp is just a puzzle!  First thing- MAKE SURE YOUR LAMP ISN’T PLUGGED IN!  Trust me,unless you want to risk having the shock of your life, this is very important. Remove the harp and any light bulb that may be in the lamp.  You remove the harp by gently squeezing the outside wires together and pulling up the caps on both sides.


cutting felt on lamp


Start by placing a soft, old towel out on your work surface to protect your lamp.  Lay your lamp on it’s side and take a look at the bottom.  Some lamps like this one, have a felt bottom that helps protect your furniture from the lamp base’s rough edges. I tried to gently pry the felt off from the edges but apparently someone liked to use a lot of glue and this piece of felt was on permanently!  Since it was so dirty I just decided that I would cut it off and replace the felt later.  I didn’t have felt here at the castle, so I just cut a large X in the middle, tapping the edges back so that I could get to the bolts on the bottom.


lamp base bottom


As you can see here, there is a plastic screw on cap that is attached to the bottom of your lamp rod.  The lamp rod goes up through the center of your lamp and basically holds it together.  It is hollow, allowing the power cord to travel up it’s center to attach to the light socket.  You want to unscrew the plastic cap.  Under that, you will see a hexagon shaped washer/screw that is also screwed into the lamp rod.  Unscrew that as well.


lamp twist


Then grab the lamp socket – which is attached to the rod and gently start turning it to unscrew the rod from the base.  You will know when you are successful -cuz it will all start coming apart. You will see all of  the different pieces of your lamp at this point.  You may also need to gently pull on the lamp socket ( the piece at the top where you turn the lamp on) when you see that the rod is no longer attached. This will pull the cord through allowing you some slack to move the pieces further apart.


lamp parts


Here is my lamp in pieces!  Now, don’t freak out.  As long a you don’t pull it completely apart it will go back together beautifully.  Your cord is keeping it together – running up the center of everything. If you feel like you can’t clean it properly attached, you will have to detach the cord from your light socket at the top. Pay close attention to the order in which you take it apart so that you can put it back together the same way!  I usually  only take a lamp apart when either I can’t get it clean when it is semi-put together or I want to spray paint the inside.  Which, by the way gives you a really shiny, colored glass lamp.  But that is another post!


clean lamp


Clean the inside just like the outside – I used a soft, clean, lint free cloth and some windex.  Be sure if it is wet, to let the inside dry completely before putting the lamp back together or you are going to get some mean condensation.  Not a good look!


lamp base


Be sure that you clean all metal parts too.  For these I just used warm water to start with.  At this time I could have repainted the base gold but I really kind of like the distressed look on this.  It keeps the gold from being too shiny.  I’m just getting used to the fact that gold is back in…. so I really didn’t want too much of that bright gold going on!  So for now it stays. I can always redo it later if I decide I love shiny gold!

That’s it!  Now, gently pull your cord until it pulls the lamp back together tightly, inserting the lamp rod through the bottom of the base. Tighten the hex shaped washer/screw. Then tighten the plastic cap and you are done!  Be sure that if your lamp has a pattern to it, that as you are tightening, the pieces remain lined up.  I lurve you enough to give you this nugget of info.  I learned the hard way!




Now with the lamp all shiny and clean it was time for a shade.  I found these beauties at Ross.  BARGAIN!


Lamp 1 finished


Here she is – all shiny and pretty!  See the difference from the before picture? Well worth the time spent to take it apart!


finished glass lamps


Here is a picture of both of my beauties!  Not too shabby for the $15.00 that I spent on each of them!  I can’t wait to find the perfect spot for them!


Until next time…










  1. Thanks for the easy to follow directions for cleaning the inside of a glass lamp. I followed the directions and you don’t even need a tool to complete the task. It turned out looking like new again. Thanks so very much.

  2. Hi, I purchased a vintage Waterford Alana Ginger Jar lamp. There is some discolouration to the base. Should I take it apart to clean the inside of the lamp? What should I use on the base?
    Thank you.

    1. I would only take it apart to clean it if you can see inside of it and see that there is dirt. I’m a big believer of leaving it alone if it doesn’t need to be cleaned! Also, if your base is brass, I’d use a soft rag and some brass cleaner. However, try a test spot on the base in an area that isn’t easily seen to be sure that it won’t hurt the base. It sounds like you found a great lamp. Good luck cleaning. Happy Holidays!

  3. Don’t do this to a lot of colored glass lamps cause they clear glass to and painted or stained on inside and it washes right out .. my first amber glass lamp washed out and turned clear lol that’s how I learned .. I thought it was amber glass. They used to pour it in them let it roll around then run out bottom … You can clean outside and never know it .. take apart wash it out .. and doing inside makes glass a clear coat ..

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