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  • Lauren Smith

How to Clean Blinds and Shades

Your vacuum makes quick work of this chore

Blinds or shades are often the last things we think about when cleaning even though it only takes 30 minutes a month to clear your conscience — and view. But before you get down to the nitty-gritty, you need to figure out what you own. Blinds are made from wood, metal, or a composite and shades are fabric-based. While shades made out of delicate fabrics, like silk, should be professionally cleaned, everything else you can clean on your own — and here's how.


1. Wood and faux wood blinds

Treat these blinds like wood furniture. Dust with a soft, clean cloth or a chemically treated dust cloth, like Clorox Triple Action Dust Wipes. Lower the blind to full length, tilt the slats to an almost closed position, hold the bottom rail, and dust. Then reverse the slats and repeat. You can also dampen (don't saturate) a microfiber cloth with warm water and wipe the slats to get rid of stubborn dirt. Then, open the slats and allow to air-dry.

2. Aluminum and vinyl blinds

Lower the blind and tilt the slats down, but don't close them completely, or each slat won't get entirely cleaned. With your hand on the bottom rail, pull the blind slightly away from the window, keeping it taut. Attach the soft dusting-brush tool to your vacuum cleaner and vacuum a few slats at a time, using a side-to-side or top-to-bottom motion. Damped a microfiber cloth with water and wipe slats again. Open slats and allow blind to air-dry.


1. 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, like Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap. Dab, don't rub, the fabric.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

Now that you know the cleaning commitment you'll be undertaking based on what design you own, use this guide to buying blinds and shades to pick out the best option for you.

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