How to Clean Your Blinds

A homeowner wearing gloves and using a cloth to clean their blinds.

When it's time to clean the house, the blinds can be enough of a challenge that they're often simply skipped. But they hang in the window and collect dust like a filter, so they really do need some freshening up from time to time. With a few clues from the experts, you can get the job done in no time.

Pleated Cloth Shades

These shades present many cleaning problems. Never use a cleaner of any kind on day-night shades, as they stain easily. Instead, vacuum often to prevent dirt from taking control, but be sure to clean the bristles of your vacuum attachment before you clean the blinds.

Hardware stores carry a dry sponge, which you'll find in the wallboard section, that you can use to get a more thorough clean. Just wipe it over the blinds as needed to dislodge any debris. Microfiber towels do a good job as well. Dampen one with water and then wring out all the excess water. Quickly wipe over the blinds so you do not get excess moisture on them. Store the shades in a closed position whenever possible to keep the pleats well defined.

Aluminum Miniblinds

Putting off the job? Can't blame you, but here's an easy way to clean them. For general cleaning, fill a spray bottle half full with water, add a squirt or two of mild dish soap, and then finish filling with water. Spray the solution on a lint-free towel, turn the slats toward you, and wipe them down, applying light pressure so you don't bend the slats. Reverse the slats, walk around behind the blinds, and wipe once more. It only takes a few minutes, so clean one set every time you dust to avoid that miserable buildup that will take longer to get rid of.

Work early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid water-spotting problems while the blinds dry. Hammer two nails into the side of your home and hang the blinds from the nails to ensure the fastest dry time. Don't worry, it only takes a year for your neighbors to regain their composure from the laughter.

Finish up a full cleaning by spraying the blinds with a foaming bathroom cleaner. Spray the pull cords as well, but with shaving cream. When the dirt has disappeared, flip the blind over, reverse the slats and spray again. Wipe with a clean very damp sponge and dry on a large bath towel.

If your blinds have reached the point of no return, removal becomes necessary. Pull up the tabs on each end and slide the blinds out. If the blind refuses to slide out, heat with a hair dryer for a few minutes. The heat expands the metal and it should cause them to pull right out.

Wood Blinds

Care must be taken when cleaning real wood blinds. Although the wood is sealed, water or even excessive dampness may cause warping or discoloration. However, since the surface of the slats is smooth, dust may be easily brushed off at regular intervals using a clean, soft dust cloth or a vacuum cleaner brush attachment. Dust them regularly as part of your routine.

If you do still need to clean wooden blinds, remove them and lay them on a towel on tile floor. Scrub with a soft nylon brush dipped in mild soap and water.

Cellular Pleated Shades

Most of the cellular shades are anti-static, and they require very little cleaning. A light sweep with your vacuum cleaner brush attachment is all that is needed to keep them dust-free. For a more thorough cleaning, the entire shade assembly may be gently wiped with a soft damp cloth using lukewarm (not hot) water. Take special care when handling opaque (blackout) shades to avoid creasing, and do not immerse them in water. For tough stains, spot clean with a mild detergent. Some shades have a "soft hand" fabric, so be very careful not to abrade the shades when cleaning these shades to avoid "pilling."

When in doubt, contact the establishment where you bought the shades or blinds for assistance. You can also check with the manufacturers, which usually have Service Policies Help Lines.

Need new blinds or shades? Compare brands, types and prices with our Blinds and Shades Buyer's Guide.

Information in this helpful article was provided by community member Jay Steinfeld of and Cleaning Forum Moderator Mary Findlay. Visit Mary's site at