If you're like us, after doing our normal rounds of weekly cleaning (scrub the toilets, mop up the floors, wipe down counters), the last we want to do is fuss with the things that are a bit more out of sight out of mind, like dusty, dirty window blinds. Whether they're horizontal or vertical, wooden, fabric, aluminum or vinyl, who really wants to spend time going over each and every slat. Unfortunately leaving your blinds untouched can lead to a build up of allergens and germs you likely don't want collecting in your home. That’s why we polled cleaning experts to learn how to clean blinds of all kinds, quickly and easily — and we were surprised by how simple the task can be.
Why do blinds get so grimy?
Their proximity to your windows means blinds get hit with pollen, dirt and dust from outside, as well as indoor dust that circulates in your home. What’s more, “They’re made from materials that often carry a light static charge, which means dust is attracted to them and lingers on the blinds,” explains Karina Toner, cleaning specialist for Spekless Cleaning. “Kitchen blinds also can get sticky due to grease and cooking particles in the air, while blinds in your bathroom often get dirty from spray products.”
How to dust blinds of all kinds
While sorting them by material is the best way to determine how to clean your blinds, the first step for blinds of any kind is removing the first layer of dust, and the method you employ for dusting depends on how your blinds hang.
If you have *vertical* blinds
Start by using your vacuum’s brush attachment, says window treatment expert Susan Polk of Renaissance Windows & Doors. “First, close the blinds to access as much of surface area of each slat as possible, then simply run the brush along each piece to remove dust and debris.” Work from the top down, to prevent slats from getting unhooked and falling off from the pressure of the vacuum. Switch them to face the other direction and repeat when done.
And if your vertical blinds are wood, plastic or any other material that won’t fold, just follow up with one of the methods below.
If you have *horizontal* blinds
Start with the blinds pulled down as far as they can go, and keep the slats closed. “Using the hose attachment on you vacuum, go over the blinds in a back-and-forth motion, starting with the highest slat — this way any dirt or dust that gets dislodged won’t land on an area you already cleaned,” says Gretchen Boyd, cleaning specialist at NYC House Cleaners. One you’ve vacuumed them on one side, switch the slats in the other direction to get the opposite side, then follow up with one of the methods below if your blinds need more TLC.
How to deep clean blinds of all kinds
To deep clean wood blinds
Once the blinds have been vacuumed, spray them with a wood-safe furniture spray such as Pledge (Buy from Amazon, $5.38) or Murphy Oil Soap (Buy from Amazon, $2.98) and wipe them down with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. “Wood blinds are sensitive to excess moisture and harsh chemicals, so you want to avoid cleaning them with water or anything that will make them warp,” says Toner. “Using a dry cloth and minimal dampness maintains the finish and prevents damage.”
Prefer to make your own wood cleaner? Simply mix ½ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice and a few drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lemon, cedarwood or orange, in a spray bottle and use that in place of the store-bought variety. The vinegar will gently clean and sanitize the blinds while the oils will help seal the wood.
To deep clean fabric blinds
Typically the vacuum will do the trick for fabric blinds, “but sometimes you’ll notice stains or dirty spots,” says Rick Ford, window treatment expert and president of The BlindBroker. “In that case, just combine I cup warm water and 2 Tbs. clear liquid dish soap, then gently dab the stain with a microfiber cloth dampened in the mixture until the spot disappears. Follow up with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol for particularly stubborn stains.” Be sure to keep the blinds extended until they’ve had a chance to fully dry before pulling them back up.
If your blinds are made of fabric and need a deeper clean, you can always unhook each slat, place them in a pillow case wrapped in a towel (this ensures they're protected from damage) and put in the washing machine on a gentle, no-spin, cold-water cycle to get them looking like new. Just hang them up after they’re washed and skip the dryer cycle. For an easy how-to, check out this video:
To deep clean vinyl blinds
Once the dust has been removed, the biggest issue with plastic and vinyl is a yellowish discoloration due to exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Luckily, restoring them is easy, assures Muffetta Krueger, cleaning specialist with Muffetta Domestic Assistants. “In this case, soaking them is the best option,” she says. Fill your tub halfway with cool water, then add 2-3 cups of chlorine bleach, which will remove the yellow discoloration. Unhook the blinds and place them the tub to soak for at least 15 minutes, then rub them down with a sponge before draining the tub and rinsing the blinds with your shower-head. Once rinsed, lay the blinds somewhere flat to dry completely before re-hanging.
To deep clean metal or aluminum blinds
Rust spots are often the biggest issue for these blinds. If that’s the case, after vacuuming them, grab some white vinegar and cream of tartar, advises Muffetta. Make a paste using equal parts vinegar and tartar, then apply it to the rust spots on the blinds and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Follow up by polishing the area with the scrubby side of a sponge until the rust disappears; wipe down with a damp microfiber cloth to remove any excess tartar, then dry completely using a dry rag to prevent future corrosion.
Short on time? Try this nifty blind-cleaning hack!
If you don’t have the bandwidth for a deep clean at the moment, simply attach microfiber cloths, dust wipes or clean fuzzy socks to a pair of tongs using rubber bands. Wet them with some water and dish soap.
Run your “cleaning tongs” along the length of each slat to scrub both sides in one motion, says Andrea Jean of the popular YouTube channel Andrea Jean Cleans. Voila! Sparkling blinds in a fraction of the time. Note: If you’re using this method for wood blinds, just replace the soap and water with a wood-safe furniture cleaner like Pledge or Murphy Oil Soap.
Watch how she does it in the video below:
To prevent blinds from getting dirty
Grab a few dryer sheets, suggests Sophie “Mrs Hinch” Hincliffe, a social media influencer who has gone viral on Instagram for her genius cleaning hacks. “Dryer sheets are anti-static, so they pick up all the dust —you don’t need to wet them or do anything,” Hincliffe says, adding that the sheets’ anti-static properties also prevent dust from resettling on the blinds after you’re done cleaning.
No dryer sheets? You can also use liquid fabric softener: Simply dilute it in a 50/50 mixture of water in a spray bottle and give your blinds a light spritz after you’re done cleaning them.
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