Cleaning Blinds, Shades Needn’t Be a Pane

From Associated Press

As with most household cleaning, frequent touch-ups are the best ways to avoid major cleaning projects. With blinds and shades, a dusting once a month with a soft cloth or your vacuum’s brush attachment is often all it takes to keep them looking fresh. For heavier dust or grime on mini-blinds, use a finger-like brush designed to clean five or six slats at a time. Sold under a variety of names, the brushes are available at most home centers. Stained wood blinds will benefit from occasional cleanings with a furniture polish.

Following are some other suggestions:

Cleaning blinds. When your plastic or metal mini-blinds need a more thorough cleaning, it’s best to take them outside. Lay the blinds on the grass and wash the slats with a sponge and mild soapy water. Once they’re clean, hang them from a clothesline and thoroughly spray with a hose to rinse. Shake excess water, drain rails, and towel-dry slats to avoid water marks and rusting. Blinds can also be washed in a bathtub; try hanging them fully extended from the shower curtain rod to dry.

If you must clean blinds while they’re still attached to the window, fill one bucket with a solution of grease-cutting household detergent and another bucket with plain water. Spread newspapers or towels on the sill and floor to absorb any drips. Extend the blinds fully and adjust them so that they’re completely open. Working from the top down, wash both sides of each slat, then rinse using a second sponge dipped in plain water. Dry the slats with a towel.

Cleaning shades. Fabric roller shades should also be taken down for thorough cleanings. Place the unrolled blind on a flat surface and hand-sponge with lukewarm water and mild suds, trying not to soak the fabric. Work in sections, damp-rinsing and removing excess moisture with a dry cloth.

Hang the shade at the window, pull it down to full length and let it dry thoroughly. Then roll the dry shade to the top and leave it that way for several hours to give the shade a crisp, ironed look.


Certain non-washable shades can be cleaned with wallpaper cleaner; other styles may require professional dry cleaning.

Correcting problems. When shades and blinds fail to operate properly, they can usually be adjusted. If a roller shade goes up with a bang, release tension on the spring by taking the shade down, unrolling it a few inches and putting it back.

If it goes up too slowly, increase the tension by taking the shade down and turning the end pin clockwise a couple of times. If the ratchet that tightens the spring is shot, you must replace the roller.

For blinds that lift unevenly, fully extend them and reposition the lift cords with the small clip that joins them. The length of the cords above the clip should be the same. If slats bind on either end, remove the blind and reposition the lift cords on their pulleys, located inside the head box. A tilt-control wand that balks usually means that grit or a cord has worked into the gear.