How to Clean Your Blinds (Horizontal & Vertical)!

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Cleaning fabric blinds

Dust is the biggest culprit when it comes to dirty blinds of all materials, but it especially loves to cling to fabric. In my experience, I’ve found that the best way to clean fabric blinds is with a vacuum. While you’re vacuuming a room, and after you’ve done the carpet or floor, switch to the vacuum attachment with the soft bristles at the end and slowly run it over your blinds, starting from top to bottom. (Don’t have a vacuum handy? A lint roller will work in a pinch!)

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How to clean fabric window shades

Shades are a great alternative to window blinds, and the lack of slats makes them much easier to care for and less likely to accumulate dust. However, that doesn’t mean they never need cleaning. By carrying out quick maintenance cleans once or twice a month, you’ll keep your window shades looking as fresh and bright as the day they were installed. Here’s how to clean each type of fabric shade, from cellular to Roman.

How to Clean Blinds:

  1. The method you'll use to clean your blinds depends on how dusty or dirty they are in general. Start by closing the blinds and gently wiping them down with a microfiber cloth, moving from the top of the blind down. (For horizontal blinds, wipe from side-to-side.) It helps to hold the bottom of the blind in your other hand so it's pulled out from the window. Adjust the blinds to open them, and run the microfiber cloth over them again. Then close them the opposite way and repeat.
  2. Vacuum up any dust and debris with your vacuum attachment.
  3. If you've got stuck-on dirt or stains, mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Pull a clean sock over your hand and then dip the sock into your cleaning solution. Wring it out until the sock isn't dripping wet.
  4. With the sock covering your hand, use your fingers and run them over each blind blade tightly. Leave the blinds open to dry thoroughly.

To deep clean: For very dirty, sticky plastic blinds, save yourself the headache and remove them from the window and place them in a bathtub filled with warm water and a squeeze of dish soap. Let them soak for an hour. Rinse and hang them outside until they're completely dry.

Container Store Cosabella Blinds Duster Credit: Container Store

To buy: $9, containerstore.com.

On specialty tools: A special blinds cleaner isn't necessary, but can be helpful if you're staying on top of your weekly cleaning. It will save you time by allowing you to clean multiple blades at once.

How to clean wooden blinds

Wooden blinds are a durable, lightweight, and traditional way to shield windows from prying eyes and glaring light. Whatever wood your blinds are made from, they can all be cleaned with similar methods. Remember to avoid getting wooden window blinds wet whenever possible. Even though the wood is treated, water can cause warping and discoloration. You should also avoid using any harsh chemicals such as bleach or ammonia, as they can damage the seal or stain of the wood.

Equipment checklist:

  • Microfiber cloth or duster
  • Vacuum cleaner with brush attachment
  • Wood polish
  • Fresh water
  • Paper towels

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Further Tips for Cleaning Blinds

  • Always be gentle when cleaning blinds. They bend, dent, and scratch easily.
  • Blinds should be deep cleaned once every six months.
  • Every time you finish cleaning blinds, regardless of the type, wipe them down with a fabric softener sheet to help them repel dust.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with brush attachment for cleaning woven wood blinds.
  • When it comes time for blinds cleaning, you may wish to just do one set a week instead of cleaning blind after blind all on the same day.
  • To clean the rope or drawstring on your blinds, pull them all the way up so you can get to as much of the rope as possible, lather them with shaving cream and rinse it off by letting the entire string dangle into a cup of fresh water. You may need to use two or more cups to get it all off.
  • For vertical blinds that are covered in cloth, take them down one at a time, lay them on some towels, mix together some mild dish soap and water, and scrub them with a baby toothbrush dipped in the cleaning solution. Rinse them by going over them with a cool wet rag dipped in fresh water.
  • Spot clean plastic and aluminum blinds with a soft damp rag or sponge.
  • For a quick dusting, hit your blinds with a can of compressed air.

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How to Clean Shades

Cellular shades Also known as honeycombs, these insulating window treatments are energy efficient but have a cleaning advantage too. Honeycombs are so easy to clean. Just use the dusting tool on your vacuum," says Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. "Give them a once-over on low suction, and you're done." After dusting, most stains can be lightly blotted away with a sponge, lukewarm water, and a mild dish detergent. Dab, don't rub, the fabric.

Roman shades When you buy Romans — whether they're flat, pleated, or draped with swags — clean as our experts: use your vacuum's soft dusting brush attachment on low suction, or gently go over the shades with a handheld vac fitted with the brush attachment. If necessary, spot-clean any stains with a cloth dipped in water and mild dishwashing detergent, but do not saturate the material. Rinse and blot dry.

Sheer shades Trendy translucent window shadings (which you can adjust to diffuse the light) look delicate but are fashioned from sturdy, knitted polyester. Vacuum with the brush attachment on the lowest suction setting.

Roller shades To clean classic vinyl roller shades, use a well-wrung cloth or sponge dipped in a solution of mild dishwashing detergent and lukewarm water, and wipe the shade in sections. Start at the bottom, and continue working (washing and rinsing) upward until the entire shade is clean. Leave the shade fully extended to dry. You can also give dingy vinyl shades a bath. Cover them in warm water in the bathtub and add several squirts of mild dishwashing soap. Using a soft brush, clean the shades on both sides. Rinse, allow to air-dry, and re-hang.

Panel track shades Durable panels for large doors or windows are low-maintenance. All you have to do is glide your vacuum dust-brush tool over the panels to keep them fresh.

How to Clean Fabric Blinds and Shades

Your fabric shades are another window treatment that you can use your vacuum to clean. Whether you need to clean cellular shades, honeycomb shades, or are cleaning vertical blinds; your vacuum cleaner is your best friend.

Here’s how to clean vertical blinds and other fabric blinds using a vacuum:

Like with the wood blinds, use the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to dust the individual vanes of the blind carefully. Be sure to keep the vacuum on a low setting to avoid damaging the fabric.

Use a Hairdryer

Another great tool that you can use to dust your fabric shades, especially cellular shades, is your hairdryer. You can use a hairdryer, that is set on cold, to blow away the dirt that is trapped in the creases or inside the honeycomb opening. It also works great for removing bugs that are caught inside the honeycombs.

Removing Stains with Simple Dish Soap and Water Solution

If it’s been a while since you cleaned your fabric shades, you may have to contend with stains. Stains of fabric blinds are relatively easy to tackle, all you need is a sponge and a simple fabric cleaning solution. When dealing with stains and grime, be sure not to oversaturate the fabric to keep from damaging the blinds.

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In a small bowl, combine the dish soap and the water, and mix well. Dip a sponge into the cleaning solution, and squeeze out the excess liquid. With the damp sponge gently scrub the blinds.

Avoid rubbing too hard because fabric blinds are delicate and can quickly become frayed. When cleaning Venetian blinds, use sideways strokes, starting at the top and working your way toward the bottom. When you clean vertical blinds, you want to use top-to-bottom strokes.

When you’ve finished cleaning the blinds, use a damp, soft cloth to wipe the soap off the blinds. Let them air dry. If your fabric blinds are incredibly soiled, you may need to remove them from the windows and have them professionally cleaned.

Keep ’Em Clean

That’s all there is to it—much easier than taking the blinds down and giving them a bath! To make this job even easier the next time around, stay on top of your dusting. I always say mess begets mess, and dust, grime, and dirt definitely tend to compile, too. For this light in-between job, simply turn all the blinds upright and, working from the top, move your vacuum or duster in an S-pattern all the way to the bottom.

Looking for more dusting advice? We’ve got you covered!

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