Cleaning blinds, shutters, and shades can be a bit of a daunting task when you think about it. So let’s break it down and show you how doable it can be. Admittedly, it is one of those housekeeping tasks we put off because we are not sure what to do. However, if left undone, we pose health risks and hold household odors in the buildup.
Cleaning our window treatments is really a function of what materials are used for our window coverings.
Aluminum or vinyl mini-blinds: These type of blinds are probably the easiest of all to clean…they can handle mild cleaning solutions, getting wet, and even soft brushes. They can also be done while still hanging, or taken off and cleaned in a bathtub or outside.
To clean outside, simply remove the blinds from the window, place a sheet down on the grass or driveway, lay blinds on top in the closed position (not to be confused with gathered up in the “up” positions). Then with a mild all purpose cleaner and a soft car washing brush attached to a long handle, gently scrub the blinds. Rinse. Turn over and repeat on the back side. Hang to dry or let air dry while lying flat.
To clean blinds in place, close the blinds and have them completely down. Place towels along the bottom of the blinds along the window seal and floor. Using a spray bottle with mild all-purpose cleaner and a soft cloth or brush, wipe over the blinds. Rinse. Turn the slats up and repeat for the back side. When both sides are completed, take a clean damp cloth and wipe over both sides to dry.
There are many variations to these basic steps — like the way you hang the blinds to dry — over an outdoor clothesline, etc. and the type of brush or mitt, etc. Find the one that works for you.
Once blinds are clean, wipe down with a dryer sheet — this keeps the static down and the dust from collecting as quickly.
Wood blinds: Although the wood is sealed on most wood blinds, it is not recommended to wash them, so do not use soap and water on them. Simply dusting them well, and frequently, is all that needs to happen. Some wood blinds and shutters can handle a damp cloth cleaning every now and then. Check with the manufacturer before using this option. Wood blinds are easily cleaned while still hanging and can be given a bit of extra shine by using a little lemon oil on a soft cloth.
Fabric or cellular pleated blinds: These types of blinds present a bit of a cleaning problem, as they cannot get wet, nor are they easy to dust. About the best thing to use for these blinds is to use your upholstery attachment for the vacuum and give them a gentle vacuuming now and then.
Vertical blinds: While vertical blinds do not show the dust as much as horizontal blinds, they do get dust and dirt buildup and should be cleaned periodically as well — especially if they are textured at all. It is important to know what materials the vertical blinds are made of as well. Vinyl is very common now, has many colors, textures, and looks. I would recommend dusting these with the vacuum and the upholstery brush attachment or a good feather or lamb’s wool duster. These blinds also can be cleaned using a mild all-purpose cleaner and a soft brush once they are dusted.
Although it is possible to clean these vertical blinds while they are still hanging, it is a messy job and much easier to release them from the head rail and clean with them lying down like the mini-blinds. Depending on your vertical blinds, you may even be able to take off each slat/vane and clean it individually — it really is easy.
Vertical blinds made of fabric can sometimes be cleaned by washing in your washing machine. Be sure to check with the manufacturer first on this option. If they are machine washable, use the gentle cycle with a mild liquid detergent — like baby shampoo or Woolite and cold water. Do not spin. If your fabric blinds cannot be machine-washed, you will have to spot-treat them.
Begin by completely closing the shutters to form a semi-smooth surface for dusting. Use a soft dusting cloth or favorite feather duster that is treated with something like Endust — a product to help reduce static and help the dust hold to the cloth or duster. Or use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum and dust them gently that way.
Wood shutters are usually fine to get a bit damp, but must be followed up with a clean, dry soft cloth. Again, check with the manufacturer before proceeding with this option.
Faux wood shutters are quite simple to clean and almost always can handle a damp cloth and a bit of a mild cleaner, followed up by a damp cloth to rinse, and another to dry.
Shades, while nice for many reasons, pose more of a cleaning problem than other window treatments because the majority of them cannot be cleaned with anything wet, or by laundering. These day/night type shades do best when vacuumed frequently with a clean soft upholstery brush attachment. Some folks have tried a dry sponge or a microfiber cloth, by simply wiping the sponge or cloth firmly across the blinds (not up and down). The problem, this is slow and tedious, and does not do as good a job as the vacuum method.