Sure, you clean your windows regularly, but what about the blinds or shades that cover them? They need TLC, too—which is why you need to know how to clean blinds. Whether they’re vinyl, wood, fabric, or aluminum, window blinds are great at keeping a room cool, blocking out light, and providing privacy from nosy neighbors, but they’re also great at collecting dust, pet hair, and other dirt.
But don’t worry—there’s no need to clean one slat at a time or take the entire thing off the window. All you need are some simple tools and a few minutes to improve your view. Learn how to clean blinds quickly and easily, and add this simple method to your regular list of cleaning to-dos.
1. Gather your materials
Vacuum cleaner with soft brush attachment
2. Close the blinds
Begin by fully lowering the blinds. Wood and faux-wood blinds can be completely closed; the slats of vinyl and aluminum blinds, which often overlap, should be tilted downward but not completely closed.
3. Dust the blinds
For vertical blinds, hold the bottom of the blind in one hand to stabilize it. Wipe the blinds with a microfiber cloth, starting from the top and working your way down. Wipe in a downward motion or they could come unhooked. You can also use your vacuum cleaner with a soft dusting brush attachment and a low-suction setting to remove dust. For horizontal blinds, the process is exactly the same except that you wipe from side to side. Work from the top slat to the bottom slat so dust doesn’t fall on areas you’ve already cleaned.
4. Flip the blinds and repeat
Flip the blinds so the other side is facing you and repeat the process with your microfiber cloth or vacuum.
4. Use a damp cloth on heavily soiled blinds
If dusting isn’t enough to clean your blinds, use a microfiber cloth dampened with warm water. If you have wooden blinds, be careful not to get them too wet.
5. Deep-clean if necessary
If your vinyl or aluminum blinds are in the kitchen where they are exposed to grease, residue, or stubborn dust, they may need a deep clean. Take the blinds off the window and place them in a bathtub with warm water, a few generous squirts of dish soap, and a cup of baking soda (a natural stain fighter). Let the blinds soak for about an hour and then rinse with warm water. Finish them off by wiping away any excess dirt or dust.
Note: If your blinds are still looking dingy and yellowed, they’ve probably been stained by the sun—and that can be fixed, too. Pop the blinds into the tub with cold water and 3 cups of liquid bleach. Let the blinds soak for no more than 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and dry off. The bleach should give the new, bright white life.
5. Vacuum away excess dust
If you just ran a damp cloth over your blinds, open them and let them air-dry. Vacuum any remaining dust that fell onto the windowsill or the floor while you were dusting.
Extra Tips and Tricks
Here are a few extra tips for cleaning your window blinds.
1. Clean your blinds regularly
Clean your blinds once a month and the dust will never get too bad. Blinds that are well taken care of should last for decades (even though most only have a warranty of five years).
2. No microfiber cloth? No problem
Cloths are great, but an old (clean!) sock will work just as well. Put the sock over your hand, dip it into water, and you’ll be able to clean all the window coverings in your house.
3. You can clean your shutters and fabric shades, too
If you have shutters, you can use the exact process outlined above to clean them. If you have fabric shades, such as Roman or honeycomb shades, you can clean those at home, too—but the process is a little different. Lower the shades, then use the soft brush attachment and the low suction setting on your vacuum cleaner to go over the shades starting from the top. When you’re done with one side, maneuver behind the fabric shade and vacuum the other side. Vacuum the back of the fabric shade as well.
If there are stains, spot-treat them with a mixture of clear liquid dish soap and warm water in a bowl (and a teaspoon of baking soda for a heavy stain). Wet a microfiber cloth with the solution and wring it out, leaving the cloth damp but not soaking. Dab at the stain with the damp cloth. Do this multiple times depending on the stubbornness of the stain. Repeat with a clean cloth moistened with plain water and let the shade air-dry. If spot cleaning is not enough to clear up the stain, you can take the fabric blinds to the dry cleaner for a thorough refresh.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest