How to Clean Blinds
Time Required: Under 2 hours
When you clean them every week, your window blinds will look their best. Unfortunately, sometimes we forget, until one day we realize they’re coated with dust, or they’ve gotten yellow and discolored from the sun. The good news is you can learn how to clean blinds with a few simple tools. Cleaning your window treatments is an easy way to keep your home looking put-together and welcoming.
- Leave your blinds in place to dust them. Just open the blinds and clean them from the top to the bottom with a lambswool or other type of duster. Use a vaccum cleaner to get up any dust that drifts onto the floor. Shake the duster outside, between cleanings, if you’re doing more than one set of blinds.
- To use a microfiber cloth, close the blinds and wipe off the dust, again working from the top to the bottom. The cloth will catch most of the dust. When it gets dirty, take it outside and shake it vigorously, or switch to a clean cloth.
Grease, dust, pet hair and particles floating around in the air can combine to make blinds grimy, especially when blinds are used in kitchens. To clean them, start by dusting them with a microfiber cloth. Do not use water on wood blinds.
- If the blinds are plastic or metal, and you want to leave them in place to clean them, make a 50/50 solution of warm water and white vinegar in a bowl or bucket. Mix in a little mild dishwashing soap. Dip a sponge in the solution and wipe down each slat. Finish by wiping each slat again with a sponge dampened in fresh, clean water. Let the blinds air-dry or wipe them dry them with a cloth.
- To clean mini-blinds, use the 50/50 solution and put a clean sock over your hand. Dip the sock in the solution and wipe each slat. Rinse the sock under running water as needed. Let your kids have fun by using one of their socks to help you clean.
- If the blinds are too dirty to clean in place, raise them as high as they will go and remove them from the window. Fill your bathtub with warm water, a squirt or two of mild dishwashing liquid and a gallon of white vinegar. Some people prefer to fill the tub with warm water, 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda instead. NOTE: Follow any cleaning directions that come with your blinds. Some manufacturers recommend against putting them in water, which may cause rusting in the headrail. Putting them under water may void your warrantly.
- Take the blinds to the tub, lower them to extend them fully, and lay them flat. If they’re too long to fit in your tub, extend them as far as they will go.
- Make sure the water covers the blinds and let them soak for about an hour. Clean any really dirty spots with a sponge.
- Next, drain the tub and rinse the blinds with a shower wand or by pouring clean water over them. Pick them up and hold them over the tub to let excess water drain away.
- Put the blinds back up and dry them with a towel, or hang them outside to air dry.
- If the heavily soiled blinds are made of wood, dust them with a microfiber cloth or the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Then clean them with furniture polish or wood cleaner applied to a soft cloth. After you’ve cleaned one side of the blinds, tilt them and clean the other side.
Begin by dusting vertical blinds and cellular blinds with a feather duster or the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Open the blinds and dust them from the top to the bottom on both sides. Follow the manufacturer's directions for cleaning the type of blinds you have. Don't use water on wood blinds.
- If you don't have the manufacturer's directions, and you need to remove a few spots after you dust, leave the blinds in place and test an all-purpose cleaner or a dry fabric cleaner on an inconspicuous area. If it doesn’t harm the fabric or change the color, follow the product directions to continue cleaning. Many products will tell you to apply the cleaner to a dry cloth and gently blot the spots, instead of rubbing them.
- Some vertical fabric blinds should be dry-cleaned only. Cellular blinds may require a professional ultrasonic cleaning (heat can weaken the glue used to make them). Read the manufacturer’s tag or label for more information.
Sunlight can take a toll on white blinds, turning them yellow over time. Once you’ve dusted and cleaned the blinds, you may be able to whiten them again.
- For plastic and aluminum blinds, fill your bathtub with cold water and 2 or 3 cups of liquid bleach. Take the blinds off the window and soak them in the bleach solution for about 10 minutes. Stay safe by opening your windows and running a fan to ensure good air circulation in your work area. NOTE: Follow any cleaning directions that come with your blinds. Some manufacturers recommend against submerging them in water, which may lead to rusting. Putting them under water may void your warrantly. Don't use water on wood blinds.
- Put on rubber gloves and use a sponge to wipe off each slat with the bleach solution. Drain the tub, rinse the blinds and let any excess water drip off while you hold them over the tub.
- Hang the blinds outside to air dry or dry them with an old towel. Be careful not to get the bleach solution get on your skin, clothes or anything else. It’s a good idea to put some old towels under the blinds after you hang them up, in case they continue to drip.
- If you prefer, take the blinds outside and spray them with the bleach solution. Rinse them on both sides with a garden hose or pressure washer and hang them to air dry before you take them inside.
- To brighten yellow or discolored wooden blinds, dust them and leave them in place if you have only a few spots to work on. Use a wood cleaner or a wood polish to remove the spots.
- If the blinds are badly discolored, take them down and re-paint them outside.
Window blinds can last 5 to 10 years or more. If you see signs like these, it’s time to replace yours:
- The slats are broken or bent, or they won’t close tightly anymore
- The blinds are hard to raise or lower, which means the pulling mechanisms are failing or broken
- The cords are worn and frayed, which may cause the blinds to come apart
- The blinds look outdated or lack safety features that help protect children and pets
- You are installing new windows and the old blinds won’t fit them properly
The Home Depot can put you in touch with trusted, local installers, if you need help with blinds installation. Experts can also help you with custom window treatments, or you can install them yourself.
Now that you've learned how to clean blinds, you may be ready to change your curtains as well. Alternatively, it could be time to upgrade your blinds to a more modern or different option. The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.