How to Clean Vertical Blinds

The question of how to clean vertical blinds is one that can discourage people from purchasing these effective large-window treatments. But, unless you have delicate fabrics, like silk, it is probably much simpler than you think.

Vertical blinds were first developed in Kansas in the late 1950s, but did not become affordable (and consequently popular) until the late 1960s,early 1970s. They are frequently seen in both commercial and home settings - and are most popular for large windows and patio doors. Vertical blinds are generally made from vinyl, wood, or fabric. Except for the most delicate fabrics, most of the materials are easy to keep clean using the resources you already have in your own home. Because they are vertical rather than horizontal, dust and dirt do not collect on the slats the way they do on your mini or venetian blinds.

The instructions below are generic and should work to help you with how to clean most vertical blinds. However, if there is any doubt please check the manual that came with your blinds, or with the manufacturer to make sure that there are no materials which require special care. No matter what materials your blinds are made of, always treat them gently to avoid damaging the mechanisms or unhooking the blinds. Hooking them back up again can sometimes be a challenge.

Removing Dust and Surface Dirt

One way to quickly get rid of excess dirt or dust on the blinds is by giving them a quick once-over with a vacuum attachment. You can use the curtain attachment that comes with most vacuums that looks like a round brush with lots of bristles, or you can buy a special fork-shaped attachment made especially for dealing with vertical blinds.

Always start at the top of the blinds. If you have the special attachment, simply place the forks on either side of any slat, and slide it gently downwards. It will remove the dust from both sides. If you use the curtain attachment, use the same downward motion, but you will only be able to do one side at a time.

If you can't or don't wish to use a vacuum cleaner, then a good quality microfiber or lamb's wool duster should do the trick. Both of these products actually lift dust off of surfaces rather than just moving it around.

How to Spot Clean Vertical Blinds

If any of the vanes/slats need spot cleaning, I really recommend a high-quality microfiber cloth. All you need is to wet the cloth in some hot water, wring it out well, and gently scrub the stain in the direction of the fabric. If the slats are made of vinyl or wood, use a circular motion. This should get out most ground in dirt.

If the stain does not come out, apply a little dish detergent (not antibacterial) to a dry or nearly dry cloth. Dab the stain gently, and then wipe the area with clear water to remove the detergent and stain residues. If it is a protein-based stain (usually from food) that isn't coming out, an enzyme stain remover can sometimes help - but test it in an inconspicuous spot first.

To Clean Vertical Blinds that are Heavily Soiled

Sometimes the fabrics are dry clean only - please check with the manual or the manufacturer if you have any doubts.

For flexible slats, you can leave them in place and carefully use the upholstery wand on a carpet cleaning machine using just warm water and white vinegar. Always start at the top and work downwards.

If you don't have access to a carpet cleaner,you can wash them in the tub. (this is not ideal - because there is greater risk of deforming the slats) To wash in the tub, fill your bathtub 1/2 full with lukewarm water and a little dish detergent, completely dissolved. (Put the detergent in before the blinds to make sure that you don't discolor the fabric).

Carefully remove each slat from the top of the blinds and put a few at a time in the prepared tub. Allow to sit 2 or 3 minutes and swish gently to dislodge soils. Remove each slat from the tub and inspect the length of it. Give soiled areas a gently scrub with a microfiber cloth or soft nail brush. The microfiber will do less damage to the fabric.As you clean vertical blinds put them to one side (or hang over the shower curtain rod). Once they are all cleaned, empty the tub and rinse the slats. If you don't rinse them, soap residues will stay on the fabrics and they will get dirty again much faster. Hang them back up in the window while they are still wet to avoid permanent bends.

For non-flexible slats like wood or thicker vinyl, clean in place with microfiber cloth and warm water, or a washcloth and a small amount of water and all-purpose cleaner. Again, always start at the top and work downwards.

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