To clean your vertical blinds, the first step is to establish a routine of cleanliness. Although horizontal blinds are more prone to showing dust and dirt, vertical blinds will become plenty grimy if they aren’t cleaned regularly, so make sure you’re attending to them at least once a month. Especially if you’ve got an unnaturally grunge-prone household, or if you have pets that will be rubbing against them on a regular basis.
You never want to leave dirty blinds to fester for too long, since the direct exposure to sunlight plus the bacteria from pets, humans and general dirt can create an extremely unhealthy environment for everyone in the apartment.
Basic Tools and Techniques
For a light cleaning, use a feather duster or dust cloth to wipe down the blinds, or better yet use a flat attachment from your vacuum cleaner to suck all the dust off. Following up a good vacuuming with a damp cloth is an excellent idea, and minimizes the amount of detached and free-floating dust clumps in the air of your home.
For a heavier cleaning, especially after purchasing an apartment with soiled blinds already in place, more powerful tools will be needed for the onslaught.
For aluminum or plastic blinds, soap and water are a classic way to get them sparkling again. For especially resilient grime, try using any number of commercially available cleansers designed for counter tops and other similar surfaces. Spritz a thin layer of cleanser onto the blinds and, using a soft cloth, wipe thoroughly until clean.
Note: Before using cleanser of any kind, be sure that it won’t take any paint or protective coating off your blinds.
Fabric blinds are considerably more complicated, since regular soap and water can’t be used without possibly damaging them. Don’t even consider surface-cleaners, especially the caustic kind used for bathrooms and kitchens, as they will almost certainly destroy your delicate fabric blinds.
For these, the best course of action is to check the manufacturer’s tag to see if they are machine washable. If they are, carefully disengage each blind from its hook and the chain, and wash as prescribed. Sometimes fabric blinds have a small weight in the lining of the bottom seam. Be sure to take this out before washing them, to avoid damage to your washing machine.
If your fabric blinds come out wrinkled, a light steaming should smooth them out quickly enough. Be sure to replace the weights at the bottoms once the blinds are hung back up.
If they are not machine-washable, then a vacuum cleaner is ideal for light cleanings. Use various attachments until you’re comfortable that you’re getting as much dust and detritus out as you can. For stains, use a commercially available spot-cleaner and a damp cloth to clean specific areas. Be sure to lay down something below the blinds to catch any drips of cleanser before they hit your carpet, and avoid unsightly carpet bleach-out.
For wooden or faux-wooden blinds, vacuum thoroughly and wipe down with a damp cloth, then dry completely. You can also use lemon oil or furniture polish on them for added shine.
Jordan Gaither: I’m a Communications major by trade, an artist by choice, a welder by day and a dancer by night (Okay, I made that last part up). Having lived in a succession of cramped, oddly-shaped apartments, I have a wealth of personal experience in apartment living, as well as arranging and decorating to maximize effect and livable space.