OK, seriously - HOW do you clean wood (or faux wood) blinds?

auntjenApril 6, 2009

I'll be the first to admit it -- my blinds are gross. We did a major spring cleaning on our home office yesterday, but by the time we got to the blinds I was worn out, and just thoroughly disgusted at how dirty they were -- so I kinda skimmed over them and left that part of the job to tackle (properly) later. The illogical side of me apparently figures that if I procrastinate long enough, the dirt will somehow magically vanish ... yeah, right.

Anyway, I'm just wondering how others clean their blinds. Do you take them down, or clean them while they're hanging? What do you use to clean them? Yesterday I used a spray cleaner and sprayed the whole thing down while they were in the closed position, and then attempted to wipe each slat individually -- but just got disgusted at how the wet cleaner mixed with dust/dirt practically turned to mud. Blech. Are there any tried-and-true tools I should look into that might make this job more tolerable?

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Jen, I know they sell blind cleaners but have never bought one, myself. They have a number of fingers? that are wrapped in an absorbent material. You just position them, between the slats and move back and forth (clear as mud, eh?).

I just always used my vacuum extension and took my time.

Makes you want to go back to the old aluminum ones that you could take outside and hose off or throw in the shower. :)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 11:45AM
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What the dickens are you getting on them that a quick swish every so often with a Swiffer duster won't take off? :-) We have both dark brown (wood) and cream (fake wood aka plastic) blinds and on the admittedly-somewhat-rare occasions when we dust (I admit it doesn't get to the top of the to-do list as often as it ought ;-) I joke that you can sign your name in the dust but please don't date it!) I just put the blinds in the down-closed position, flick flick flick, turn them to the up-closed position, flick flick flick, on to the next thing to be dusted. I love those Swiffer duster things.

I had one of those fingery-looking blinds cleaners some years ago when we had an apartment with blinds on every window and it was rather tedious making sure each slat was properly in the slot, and you had to do it three times for each pass (once on the outside of the left set of strings/tape, once for the middle, and once for the right set of strings/tape). You couldn't just go *swoosh* all the way across in one stroke. Or maybe I'm just a complete moron, which is always possible - people tell me I am often enough. :-)

Faux (not composite) wood blinds are plastic, so I imagine you could just clean them the same way as other plastic blinds - hang 'em up and hose 'em down. If you have cloth tapes, test them for colorfastness with a bit of water and a white towel.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 12:22PM
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"I just always used my vacuum extension and took my time."

Yep. That is what I do too. My blinds are way too heavy to be taking off/on and trying to wash. And they're wood anyway so that wouldn't work.

What I do is take it one window at a time. Use the brush attachment of a vacuum, start at the top. Depending on how high up the window is you might need a footstool. Close the blinds so they face down (the dust accumulates on the top side). Start at one end of the top blind. Hold the edge firmly and run the vacuum brush across, for really dirty blinds you may need to go back/forth. I do a foot or so at a time. Be sure to lift the blind above up so you get the entire blind vacuumed. Then move your footstool across as needed and on the next blind down start at the end you just finished so you are moving back and forth across the window and down.

Once I've vacuumed I usually take some Soft Scrub and a sponge and THEN wipe the blinds down. Auntjen it sounds like we are soul sisters in the blinds-cleaning department which is why I suggest that the blinds may be so grody you have to use a dry method (the vacuum) before you touch them with anything damp. If you try to start by wiping them down it can turn into a real pain in the you know what. Ask me how I know that method leads to a mud-smeared blind cleaning experience!

I will say that once you get into it, cleaning blinds doesn't take all that long. Not that this reassurance makes me want to do it, mind you, but it isn't the most awful household cleaning task.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 12:31PM
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Add my faux-wood blinds to the seriously gross category -- really! No -- I have no idea how they get this way! Of course my house is THE dustiest house in DFW -- I could dust every single day!

The last time (and I'm NOT telling you how long ago this happened) we cleaned the blinds -- DH took each one down -- hung it on the back fence -- and washed it very gently and let it dry. It was the only way to get them really clean!

Jan at the perpetually dusty Rosemary Cottage (cough cough cough)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 1:00PM
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First of all, shouldn't all blind manufacturers make a tray to fit perfectly and fill line marked accurately to prevent any mess. Then after a soak, the blind and tray slowly lower to drip dry. OR, the blinds install in the tray on the sill to keep clean when not in use and raise into a valance when wanted in use. Or, throw them out and replace with machine washable fabric, that's what I did, lol.
Ok, now, the embarassing point, for over 30 years, I have blamed the skimscum all over my house on my hubbys gas stove, but just learned reciently here on GW, it isn't the gas but all his fried food! It really does stick on EVERYTHING! I've always wanted to design a kitchen/bath like a dishwashing swimming pool. just close the doors, and hit the "Full Clean Cycle" YES, I HATE Housework, I'd rather be gardening, decorating, creating, expressing positive artistic thoughts with my mind, not futile, endless, disrespected, chemically harmful, skin damaging, brain numbing repetitive housework!
Wheeeeew.....thanks for letting me vent, now, throw out the blinds and install outdoor functional shutters, he gets to clean with the hose when he's doing the windows. Damn, I do the windows outside too!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 1:06PM
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I vacuum or use the dry pledge cloth on them. not often though- they are cherry colored wood and you have to look closely to see dust! unless you get a signature on them!
For my white fake wood ones that we have in the bedrooms and bathroom. I take them down in the extended position and swoosh them in the bathtub. rinse in tub and let dry towel on floor until not dripping then hang back up. Too lazy to drag outside.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 1:08PM
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I have cream real wood blinds - the motorized, very high ones got cleaned when we got new windows (they were digustingly dusty/dirty), so now I do it when we need to change the batteries. We take them down - I vacuum, then use a swiffer cloth meant for the floor, 1st dry, then a damp one, then a dry one.
The ones I can reach on the lower level, I try to vacuum a little more often & do the swiffer routine occasionally. The swiffer cloth acts like a magnet ( and I am not a swiffer fan)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 1:34PM
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I have real wood and faux wood blinds. I DETEST trying to clean them. I either use a feather duster type thing and go over each slat and then take the duster and shake it outside every few slats or vacuum each slat with an attachment. I loathe this job and don't do it often. Consequently, my blinds are a lot dustier more often than they should be. Oh, the joys of house work!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 1:42PM
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There is no easy method. The dry swipe first then wet wipe slat by slat method (or dunk/hose spray as the wet alternative) is the only way to get them really clean. I used to go to a military college where we had weekly inspections, and my roomie and I would take shifts on the blind cleaning. Even with weekly deep cleaning they still get dusty enough to require the full deal each time. A true PITA!!!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 2:18PM
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Obviously many of us share the same difficulties with this particular (horrid) task! I do think, unfortunately, as learn_as_i_go has stated, there's no easy solution to the problem (which is undoubtedly why so many of us put this job off until it becomes positively disgusting!). The blinds I attempted to clean yesterday are in the same room as the litterboxes, and litter (even the supposedly non-dusty kind) is dusty and gets on everything around it. Another issue for me is living in an old house that still has its original (1940) single-paned windows that aren't sealed as well as windows are nowadays ... the dust seems to practically seep right through those things, especially on our windy early spring days!

I do like Bodica's suggestion to just throw the things away and start over. Maybe, if I were a rich girl ... ;-D

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 2:26PM
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Darn, I was so hoping for any easy solution. I have all wood blinds and they are, I am ashamed to say VERY dusty!!!!! When I do clean them I use a vacuum attachement but they are all golden oak and it seems they are dusty again within a few days!!!!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 2:46PM
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I have the faux wood blinds (white), and I just cleaned some this past weekend. These were in the bathroom over the jacuzzi tub, so they were quite large. The blinds have not been cleaned in a number of years and were covered in dust and makeup powder. I was willing to replace them if my method didn't work. I put the blinds in the jacuzzi, started running warm water and added about 1 cup of bleach. I let them soak for about 30 minutes and then turned on the jacuzzi for 1-2 minutes. To my surprise, most of the dust and grime appeared to be off. I then just used a rag to wipe them down while they were still in the tub. Drained the tub, filled it back up with clean water, drained again and then got my hubby to help me drain them and hang them back up to dry. I had a towel on the windowsill to catch the drips. They look brand new! I have approximately 30 windows in our house and plan on repeating this on all of them. And these blind are not the expensive ones such as Levelor, they are the HD brand which are much less expensive.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 2:54PM
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This has been a quite informative thread, as I have those pesky wood blinds that are a nightmare to clean (but look soooooooo good when they ARE clean! :)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 3:38PM
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aunt j

A swifer duster, microfiber cloth, or the micro fiber mit do just fine - just moisten & wipe while hanging - closed then open & switch closed to other side


    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 5:52PM
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I usually dust mine first with a microfibre cloth then wipe down with a microfibre dampened with some diluted lavender cleaner that I use. That's it. When I had vinyl I'd take them down and dunk them in the bathtub but I'm not sure you can do that with the faux, although since they are faux and PVC, you should. However, I won't be the one tell you to do that.

If they are real funky and were mine, I'd take them in the yard, lie them over some work horses and hose the hell out of them after spraying with cleaner. Yes, I get pretty agressive with serious dirt and if I ruin something in the process, too bad, I just buy new. LOL

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 6:01PM
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I wipe mine with a slightly damp microfiber cloth. I wring it out in a bowl of water. I probably don't do it enough.

I've read that you can hang them over a fence and wash them with a hose but I wouldn't do this with real wood.I bet you can wash them in a bathtub, too.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 8:08PM
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I love that you posted this question, as I was going to ask the very same thing as I begin spring cleaning.

Every window in my house has cherry colored wood blinds. The ones near the kitchen are getting so grimy that I can't just dust them off. I have been considering dunking them in the tub, but I'm too afraid they'll warp. They are big blinds for big windows and I paid big dollars for them! :)

Now I know that faux blinds have the advantage of being washable. Oh well, live and learn. i guess I'll try the dry microfiber, then damp microfiber technique.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 8:15PM
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I take a micro fiber cloth dipped in water and fabric softner and rung out good and clean my while they are hung. Very time consuming. The fabric softner leaves the blinds with a nice scent that lasts for a little while.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 9:59PM
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Wonder if you could use faux blinds inside a shower. I notice you are cleaning them by putting them in a bathtub or hosing down, I wonder if they'd would hold up hanging on a shower window? It would get wet each time we showered.

I guess they would get grimy from the soap and shampoo.

Anyone try this?


    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 10:01PM
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Out here in wheat country it gets extremely dusty. When we had the vinyl blinds, I also would take them to the back yard, spray them with 409, then hose them down and dry in the sun.

But I recently learned a very embarrassing lesson! We had plantation shutters made for all the new windows, painted to match the remaining plantation shutters we've had for about 10 years now. The old ones were soooo dusty, we had to take them outside and use the hose on them (to find the true color)...what a PITA! Thankfully they had to come down anyway during the add-on, so that wasn't a problem.

When they installed the new shutters, I decided I'd do it the easy way. Dust them every week. lol. It's much easier than letting it build up. I just get off my hiney and dust the blasted things, slat by slat. And honestly, it doesn't take that long, it's just a matter of doing it. I liken dusting the shutters to cleaning the bathroom. I hate it!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 7:16AM
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I'm a swiffer gal myself. I find the size easy to get in between each slat. But first I close them tight and dust across the whole thing, then flip to the other way and do it again. THEN I go in between quickly with my little swiffer. I hate cleaning blinds.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 4:16PM
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We have a large window in our shower and have had a white faux blind there for years, no problems at all and always perfectly clean. Love it, for privacy yet great air flow when the window is open. Dust is rinsed off and never noticable.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 4:36PM
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auntjen, I've switched to the corn and wheat litters because the dust from the regular scoopables was not only landing on everything, but also on our lungs. We found ourselves coughing all the time and especically when DH scooped them twice a day. The wheat is the cleanest and most light weight. However, it has a high trackability which I hate. So I go back and forth between the corn and the wheat. I'm still on my never ending search for that perfect litter. You know, the one that doesn't exist!! How's that bad boy doing since his surgery?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 1:49AM
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He's doing beautifully, Brutuses - thanks for asking! After a couple of days of what could only be described as "moping around the house", he's now completely back to being his usual bouncy-boy little self. He's quite the little diva ... it's so funny to see how he can manage to corral and control the other cats in the house when he turns on his rather insistent charm!

Thanks to all for the input and suggestions here! I've got plenty more blinds to tackle, and will put to use some of the ideas here to see what works best!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 10:30AM
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Has anyone tried a magic eraser? Mine are filthy, and currently I just open the blinds all the way up :) With just dust I use the vacuum attachments, but the kitchen grease needs to be cleaned now. At the end of the day, I quickly put them down and walk away....

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 4:22PM
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We have the faux white wood blinds and were concerned about getting the metal "guts" wet using the "hose" method or the "dunk in tub" method.

Instead, we popped off the "buttons" on the bottom of the blinds, untied the knot, then slid the "strings" out from each individual "slat".

Then we hand washed each slat in the tub using Dawn dish soap and a Magic Eraser. (Ours were REALLY grimmy!) Once washed, we dried with a hand towel, replaced each "slat" into the blind, re-threaded the "string" and PRESTO! Our blinds are bright white once again!

Another method is to have them ultrasonically cleaned by a mobil company (or warehouse), but we were unable to find a mobile company in our area.

With a 3-story home, we have a boat-load of blinds, and for us, this worked beautifully!

Best wishes!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 9:20AM
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Christy2828 - Yes, a Magic Eraser works very well. I have faux wood blinds in the kitchen and I recently tried a Magic Eraser - worked great!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 12:26PM
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Yesterday I watched Sarah R put them in a room and make the claim "they are so easy to clean"..LIE LIE LIE. These things give me nightmares of childhood. Every window in our military issue housing had them and they are IMPOSSIBLE. If you touch them you show off where the dirt is no longer. They are tough to clean up near the cords, they get bent, there is always an edge that got missed UGH!! While in College I cleaned for a summer in the Arts hall. 20 foot ceilings, narrow windows, ceiling to floor BLINDS!! You cannot take them down and hose them off--they leave mud spots, you cannot dust each slat--in a summer--you need a life time for one round. NEVER NEVER NEVER would I allow them in my home. Once they are dirty beyond your ability to STAND THEM--I say THROW THEM OUT!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 1:21PM
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I'm in the don't disturb the dust camp when it comes to my wood blinds ;)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Definitely vacuum them regularly. We don't have blinds, but we do have a house full of louvered closet doors. If I didn't vacuum them, I'm sure they would build up into something gunky.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 2:33PM
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I'm so glad to see this thread, my wood blinds give me fits. I'm just west of the D/FW area, and Devon Energy bought 7 beautiful acres behind us ... to install 12 huge gas tanks/compressor station. Semis going in and out 24/7 (gravel road) equals an extreme amount of dust in this house. It's been such a nightmare. :-(

Anyway, I appreciate all these tips. :-)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 5:43PM
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I just vacuum them once in a while with the brush attachment on the hose. Id I notice dust and don't want to bring out the vac I use a microfiber cloth (dry). But I do think different finishes attract dust differently. Have you tried giving them a thorough wash and then using some kind of furniture polish or wax to repel dirt and make them easier to keep clean in future?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 12:51AM
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