Home Decor

How to Clean Blinds – Clean Blinds Without Taking Them Down

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It’s easy to include a light dusting of your blinds in your weekly cleaning schedule, but we also know it’s just as easy to skip these less thought about areas of your home. Then, one day, you open your blinds to let some light into your room to find them covered with a layer of dust. Luckily, our experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab are here to share a few simple ways you can clean your blinds at home, depending on how dirty they are and how much effort you want to put in.

It’s always a good idea to check your blind manufacturer’s website for instructions and precautions before trying any cleaning method that may cause damage to your blinds.

What You’ll Need


How to Clean Blinds Without Taking Them Down

While taking blinds down and laying them on a flat surface allows you to clean both sides and the top and bottom rails more thoroughly, it is possible to give them a good cleaning while they are still on the windows.

There are two easy ways to clean your blinds while they are still hanging: dusting with a microfiber cloth, glove or duster and vacuuming with a soft, dusting brush attachment. Cleaning your blinds with a canister vacuum, an upright vacuum with attachments or a handheld vacuum you already have at home is a quick and easy way to give your blinds a refresh.

Cleaning Your Blinds with a Microfiber Cloth, Glove or Duster

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    1. Open the blind and wrap the microfiber cloth tightly around both sides of the slate or grab both sides with your glove. For horizontal blinds (sometimes called venetian blinds), start at the top-most slat and work your way down. Starting from top to bottom ensures that you won’t have to clean the same slat a second time when dust from a slat above settles on one below. Wipe the slat from left to right. For vertical sliding blinds, wrap your microfiber cloth tightly around both sides of the blind and wipe from top to bottom. If you are using a double-sided duster, you’ll clean the topside of one slat and bottom side of the one above it as you pass the duster in between. It’s even faster to dust the blinds with the slats closed, but be aware you won’t be dusting the full slat. Be sure to Shake your cloth outside often as you start to notice it collecting dust to avoid depositing dust back on to your blinds as you clean.
    2. To remove stubborn stains and sticky residue from metal, vinyl or faux wood blinds while they are hanging, dip a microfiber cloth in a bowl of warm water mixed with a few drops of dishwashing liquid.
    3. Squeeze out the excess water and wipe the blinds from left to right (or top to bottom if they’re vertical blinds).
    4. Wipe again on both sides with a clean, dry microfiber cloth to buff away any water spots or streaks. Use water sparingly, if at all, on real wood blinds.


Cleaning Your Blinds With a Vacuum

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    1. Attach your vacuum’s soft dusting brush attachment and if possible, turn down the suction to the lowest setting.
    2. Hold onto the bottom rail of the blind to keep it taut. With your slats closed, move horizontally along the blinds, cleaning slowly from left to right.
    3. Repeat along each slat in the opposite direction.
    4. When you finish, reverse the slats, closing them the other way and clean each slat again.


Note: Cellular shades are sometimes called fabric blinds, but technically they’re not blinds at all! These shades are made from woven or non-woven fabric and have horizontal channel or cells instead of slats. This gentle vacuuming is the only way we recommend to clean cellular shades and real wood blinds to prevent damage.

Or, you can take them down and wash your blinds in a tub.

If you want to give metal, vinyl or faux wood blinds a deeper clean, your best bet is in the bathtub. It’s important to note that if you are using this method to clean your blinds, you should pay special attention to the manufacturer’s care instructions. Submerging blinds for extended periods of time in water can cause metal to rust. We don’t recommend this method for cellular shades or real wood blinds as these materials become damaged when immersed in water. If cellular shades become stained, reach out to your manufacturer with questions on how best to remove them or about the warranty offered on your product.

    1. Line the tub with a few towels to keep the blinds from scratching it, then fill the tub with warm water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Swish to make sure the detergent is dissolved.
    2. With the blinds fully extended and the slats open, place one window blind at a time in the bathtub, keeping the top rail draped over the side of the tub.
    3. Allow them to soak for no longer than twenty minutes and wash them with a cloth to remove any stuck on stains or dirt.
    4. Drain the tub and rinse the blinds with clean water. A handheld shower sprayer, if you have one, makes rinsing easier.
    5. Dry them with a clean microfiber cloth to remove as much water as you can and lay the blinds out flat to dry completely before replacing them on your windows.


Blind Cleaning Dos & Don’ts

  • Do your blind cleaning before you sweep or vacuum your floor. You’ll have to re-do your floor cleaning after if you don’t!
  • Do rehang your blinds only after they are completely dry.
  • Don’t use water on your blinds without first clearing dust from them with a dry microfiber cloth. For wood blinds and cellular shades, don’t use water at all.


When do You Have to Replace Your Blinds?

Window blinds and shades are a usually long lasting investment for a home. Most do not need to be replaced for up to 10 years.

There are a few signs you can look out for when deciding if it is time to replace your blinds:

  • The blind slats are bent out of shape, broken or warped from humidity or heat damage. If it’s only a few slats, some blind manufacturers will fix just the damaged slats.
  • The opening and closing of your shades has become a near impossible task. With time and regular use, it’s expected that the cords on your blinds will start to loosen, making it difficult to let light in during the day or close your shades at night.
  • The blinds and blind cords are discolored, yellowing or are fraying. With time, our home products’ quality will start to decline- especially products that are in near constant direct sunlight like blinds are!
  • Your blinds are out of style or ill-fitting on new windows. Windows are not made in one universal size. Different windows will require different shades that fit the size of the new window, plus, some styles just don’t look right on all windows.


Jodhaira Rodriguez, Good Housekeeping Institute
Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab Analyst
Jodhaira Rodriguez is a test analyst in the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute who graduated from Hofstra Unversity with a Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Science before going on to work as an analyst in an environmental lab.

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