wooden blinds

How to Clean Wooden Blinds: The Complete Guide

Keeping your wooden Venetian blinds clean will not only improve the look and feel of your home, but it will also improve the general air quality in your space, and prevent dust mites from building up, and the allergies that result from exposure to them.

During each day, your blinds are exposed to a multitude of particles, including pollution from traffic and smog, grease, pollen, bacteria, and dust. All of this builds up, and the more dirt there is on your blinds, the more dirt sticks to them, until they become a filthy mess, desperately needing a clean.

Before you get yourself all worked up, and run off to do this important job, you need to know what type of wooden blinds you have. Whether your blinds are made from real wood, or some sort of plastic polymer, will have a significant effect on which method you need to use to clean them. In either case, wooden blinds are generally thin and lightweight and can be easily damaged. Whichever method you will be using, you should be sure to do it with caution and care.

How to Tell What Kind of Blinds You Have

Natural wood blinds will have a completely irregular wood grain, and you will not see any repeated pattern in them.

Faux wood blinds, usually made from PVC, vinyl, or composite, are more robust and do not easily warp. You can tell if your blinds are plastic by looking at the wood grain pattern, which will be repetitive, rather than completely random.

How to Clean Natural Wood Blinds

Natural wood is highly absorbent, and it is best not to wet real wooden blinds, as this could cause irreparable damage to them. Your best bet is to keep your wooden blinds clean at all times, by regularly wiping them down with a soft microfiber cloth or feather duster. You could vacuum them with a soft upholstery brush attachment if you have pets, and your blinds build up a lot of dust and hair very quickly. Doing this every week should ensure that your blinds stay clean, and do not ever require deeper cleaning.

  1. Close the blinds so that the slats are sitting flat against the window.
  2. Run your cloth, duster, or vacuum attachment along each slat from one side to the other.
  3. Rotate the blinds so that the clean side now faces the window, and repeat step 2.

Be sure to work very gently and slowly with each slat, to ensure that you do not cause damage to the blinds.

If your blinds are already very dirty, and the method above does not clean them successfully, use some wood soap or wood cleaner to work at the stubborn dirt. If you choose to use this method, be sure to use a cloth that is only slightly damp, and not a wet one, as water will cause your wooden blinds to swell and warp.

The ends of the blinds are particularly susceptible to water damage, as the wood there is completely exposed, and you must avoid getting this area wet, or even damp, to avoid water damage. If you do see any water residue left on your blinds when you are done cleaning them, quickly wipe it off with a soft, dry cloth.

If you live in a very dry climate, and your natural wooden blinds are exposed to a lot of dust and harsh sunlight, you may want to apply some wood conditioner or lemon oil to them to restore their color and shine. Just be sure to avoid the cords, strings, and hardware while applying it.

Note: Do not ever soak your real wooden blinds in water, or any other liquid.

How to Clean Faux Wood Blinds

As with real wood blinds, your best bet is to keep your plastic blinds clean by wiping them down every week or two. You can use a microfiber towel, a soft cloth, a feather duster, or a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment.

However, if your faux wood blinds are in a very busy area, or one where they are exposed to a lot of grease, like in the kitchen, you can do a deeper clean on these than you can on real wooden blinds.

  1. Mix some mild, non-acidic dish soap with warm water.
  2. Dip a microfiber cloth in your cleaning solution, and wring it out well.
  3. Clean the slats from end to end, gently and carefully to avoid damaging the blinds.
  4. Blot the blinds dry, and enjoy the clean and fresh look.

If you feel the blinds are still not as clean as you would like, you can repeat this process, but with a solution of water and vinegar, in a ratio of 1:1.

A very deep clean can be attempted in the case of extremely grimy and dirty blinds that just will not come clean. To do this, carefully follow the steps below:

  1. Remove the blind from its place over your window. You will need tools for this, as well as patience and care.
  2. Run a bathtub full of warm water, but be sure it is not too hot. You should be able to put your hand in it comfortably.
  3. Add a small amount of dish soap to the water for extra cleaning strength – this will be essential if the blind is covered with grease and grime.
  4. Soak the blind in the water for 30 to 90 minutes.
  5. Wipe the slats individually from end to end, with the blind still in the bath.
  6. Remove the blind from the bath, and lay it on a clean towel on the floor to dry. If you are not prepared or able to wait for the blind to dry, you can dry each slat with a clean, dry towel, or blow them dry with a hairdryer on its cool setting. Do not use the hot setting, or you could warp the plastic.

How to Clean Automated Blinds

Caring for your motorized blinds will ensure that you enjoy their convenience for years to come. As with the two points above, it is best to keep your blinds clean by wiping them down each week with a soft cloth, a microfiber towel, a feather duster, or a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery brush. When cleaning, ensure that the slats are closed to prevent damage to the control mechanism of the blind. If the blind is already dirty, choose one of the methods above, depending on the material it is made from, to clean your motorized blind properly. DO NOT try to soak these blinds in a bath.

Can I Steam Clean My Blinds?

Some sources will tell you that you can steam clean your faux wooden blinds. We believe that this is a very dangerous choice, and it is best not to attempt it. If you steam real wooden blinds, the moisture and heat will certainly cause them to warp, and will most likely destroy the finish protecting the wood, as well. If you are steaming plastic blinds, the heat could cause the plastic to melt slightly, which will also cause warping of the slats.

If you do choose to steam clean your blinds, be sure to do it quickly, not ever allowing the heat to remain in one place for any length of time. Wipe down the blinds immediately afterward to dry up the excess moisture.

Related: 5 Best Commercial Steam Cleaners for Home and Business Use

How to Clean Yellowing Wooden Blinds

If you have white wood blinds that are yellowed and old-looking, there is a small chance that you can get them looking white again.

Firstly, you need to determine why the blinds are yellow – are they covered in dirt and grime, or have they changed color due to exposure to the harsh sun? If they are just dirty, choose the correct cleaning method above to get them fresh and clean again. If they have yellowed from the sun, you could try a bleach bath, but you will most likely need to replace them. Please note that you can only attempt the bleach bath if you have faux wood blinds. Real wood blinds will have to be replaced.

  1. Wear protective clothing, such as gloves and a face mask.
  2. Pour 2 to 3 cups of bleach into a bathtub full of cool water.
  3. Soak the blinds for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove, dry, and rehang.

If this did not lighten your blinds back to a nice shade of white, replacing them will be your best option.

How to Clean Strings and Fabrics

Cleaning the strings and fabric coverings of your blinds is likely the hardest part. Our suggestion is to use fabric cleaning wipes or distilled water with a plain white cloth.