How to clean your blinds

If you leave in an area with heavy amounts of dust, choose  blinds with darker colour shades.PHOTO/net.

What you need to know:

The easiest way to keep them clean and in perfect working order is having a cleaning and maintenance routine. The type and material of your blinds, determines the cleaning method.

Blinds are great for keeping out heat and light, but are a challenge to clean because of the materials used to make them. Whether you have roller blinds, Venetian, verticals or Romans the easiest way to keep them clean and in perfect working order is having a cleaning and maintenance routine.

Types of blinds

Vertical blinds are made of vertical slats and fabric. Panel blinds are also vertical blinds, but with bigger slats. 

Horizontal blinds popularly known as Venetian blinds, are made of horizontal slats running from one side of the window to another. Venetian blinds are made from an array of materials such as wood, aluminum/vinyl, plastic or PVC (plastic that looks like wood, also known as plus-wood.)

Roller blinds, are basically a horizontal blinds made up of one big slat of fabric that you draw or roll up or down using a cord. They are usually made out of fiber, synthetic fiber or vinyl.   

Roman blinds are constructed by mounting slats, which are connected to cords, into the back of a fabric panel. When the blind is lifted, the cords pull the slats together and force the blind to fold into pleats. They are made from fabric that is designed to pleat when raised.

How to cleanYou will need, a duster, microfibre cloths, warm water, dishwashing liquid, a vacuum cleaner (optional) and gloves if necessary.  Note, that the type and material of your blinds, determines the cleaning method.

Cleaning roller blinds

Start by removing the roller blind from the socket and hinge on the window. Place them on a flat surface and stretch them so you can reach even the tightest areas where dust and grime may have collected.

Then, using a duster dust off any dust, insects, cobwebs that may have collected onto the blinds over time. Dusting your roller blinds first, will make the cleaning process easier and faster. If you have a vacuum cleaner, place a soft brush attachment on it and start vacuuming from the top, moving your way down. 

After dusting, get a bucket or bowl of warm water mixed with a few drops of mild dishwashing soap. Dip a microfiber cloth into the solution. Wring the cloth out and wipe your roller blinds, starting from top to bottom. You can also use a dish washing sponge, but remember to use the softer side of the sponge. Get a dry microfibre cloth and wipe away any water spots or streaks on your roller blinds. Do not roll them up before they are completely dry as this can result into mold or even more dirt on your freshly cleaned blinds. Leave them down to air dry for about an hour, before hanging them back. 

 Although it is possible to clean your roller blinds without removing them from the windows, Clifford Kengara Nyairo, the proprietor of forward-leading technologies, a blinds retail store in Kampala, advises that taking blinds down is a better option, since it enables you to clean both sides more thoroughly. If you decide to clean them without unhinging them, then you will need something to step on depending on how high your windows are. 

“If you leave in an area with heavy amounts of dust, then you are better off selecting roller blinds with darker colour shades and a fabric that contains silk because silk is a dust repellant,” says Nyairo.    

Cleaning Venetian blinds

The material of your venetian blinds, will determine how you clean them. Venetians come in the form of Timber/wood, PVC, Aluminum and vinyl.  Aluminum and vinyl blinds are the classic white blinds commonly found in apartment complexes and offices.

The process is similar to how  you would clean roller blinds except, be a bit gentler to avoid damaging the slats as you clean. Begin by closing the blinds so  that each slat is accessible, but straighten them a bit, so you can clean both sides of each slat at the same time. Then dust each slat using a small duster or a dry microfibre piece of cloth.

After dusting, mix gentle dish washing soap in reasonably hot water and dampen your cloth. Hold the first slat at the top, wrap your wet cloth around both sides of the slat and wipe, each slat from left to right. Once you have finished cleaning, reverse the slats and repeat for each.  

Always start cleaning at the top-most slat, working your way down. Starting from top to bottom ensures that you will not have to clean the same slat a second time when you dust from a slat above settles on the one below. After cleaning, use a dry microfibre cloth to gently wipe off any water spots or streaks.    

Wooden Venetian blinds

Wooden blinds, just like wooden floors, are sensitive and reactive to water, as it causes them to warp and even change colour over time. That is why it is safer to just dust them. You can clean your wooden venetian blinds without unhinging them from the window. The first thing you will do, is close the blinds. Then, use a clean dry cloth or paper towel to wipe off the dust. 

In case of any stubborn stains, you can use a wood-cleaner. Apply a small amount of the wood cleaner to a soft cloth, then wipe the stained area or wipe down each slat from top to bottom, for an extra clean finish.

Be sure to wring out the cloth well, so you are not dripping the cleaner or using an excessive amount. Always make sure you read directions on wood cleaning products, since sometimes they need to be diluted. Lastly, give your wooden blinds a final wipe down with a wood preservative, or use lemon oil to restore their sheen.

Vertical and panel glide blinds

To clean your vertical blinds, use a damp warm cloth and possibly even dish soap. Firmly wipe down each individual slat from top to bottom, you may need a step ladder to get to those hard-to-reach places. If you have a vacuum cleaner then you can simply use it to dust using a soft brush attachment.  

Deep cleaning your blinds

Kitchen blinds can be all greasy and stained over time and usually need a deep clean.

To deep clean your blinds, remove blinds from the window and soak them in the bathtub in a mixture of warm water and dish washing soap for about 10 minutes. Then, wash them with a cloth to remove any stuck-on stains or dirt. Rinse the blinds with clean water, a handheld shower sprayer, if you have one, makes rinsing easier.   Dry them with a clean microfibre cloth to remove as much water as you can and lay the blinds out flat to air dry before putting them back. 

Before deep cleaning your blinds, pay special attention to the manufacturer’s care instructions. Submerging blinds for extended periods of time in water can cause metal to rust. This method is not recommended for cellular shades or real wood blinds as these materials are damaged by water.

How often should you clean blinds?

Roller blinds, aluminum and plastic blinds should be routinely cleaned at least once a month. The more often you clean them, the less time consuming it is when you do. Set yourself a reminder each month. 

Wood blinds on the other hand, should be routinely cleaned once a week with dry cloth or duster to prevent thick layers of dust from accumulating.

When should you replace 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, unless;

The blind slats are bent out of shape, broken or warped from humidity or heat damage. If it is 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 is 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 discoloured, yellowing or are fraying. With time, the quality will start to decline- especially from constant exposure to direct sunlight.