How To Clean Blinds, Curtains, And Drapes In 8 Easy Steps

Freshen up your window treatments and banish those seasonal dust bunnies.

Face it. Dirt and grime have been building up on your blinds all winter. It’s not your fault, it’s just the way of the world. You’ve had the windows closed and the heat crankin’, pets all cozied up on your lap, bacon frying in the pan, your favorite show queued up for hours (weeks, months?) on end. You haven’t even given your blinds or curtains a second thought—and certainly not a first thought. The only time you’ve encountered your blinds in months was to discreetly peek out of them to see if your delivery driver was pulling up with your dinner.

You know how embarrassing it is to glance up at your ceiling blade fans and find dust bunnies casually parachuting around above you? Or when you realize how many hairballs have settled into the corners of each windowsill? Yeah, take a peek at your blinds. We know, right?! Like, where did all that dirt even come from? (Hint: Your curtains provide a literal landing strip for said parachuting dust bunnies and a superhighway for those windowsill hairballs.)

Blinds and curtains both excel at attracting and harboring dust and dirt behind your back. They’re just sneaky like that. So it might just be time to give your once lovely window treatments a deep clean to restore them to a respectable status.

We suggest choosing a day with good weather so you can enjoy some fresh air as you follow our simple instructions for cleaning your blinds or curtains.

How to clean blinds

How to clean metal + plastic blinds

Metal and plastic blinds are generally quite simple to clean and you don’t have to worry about water causing them to warp, like you do with more sensitive wood blinds.

  • Close blinds. Make sure your blinds are closed so that each individual slat is accessible, but straighten them so that they’re open and letting in sunlight.
  • Dust blinds. Trap and lock dust and dirt on blinds with a Swiffer Duster. Try a Swiffer Dusters Heavy Duty Extender to reach the blinds at the top of the window, since they can extend up to six feet. These convenient Swiffer dusters actually absorb the dust instead of spreading it around or sending it airborne (and ultimately into your lungs). If you don’t have a Swiffer duster, a dry microfiber rag will suffice.
  • Mix a gentle dish soap like Dawn with hot water, dampen sponge and wipe down each individual slat from top to bottom.
  • Reverse the slats and repeat.
  • If the blinds are really dirty (ie: kitchen blinds that have greasy residue or stains on them), you can gently remove the individual blinds for a deep cleaning. You can also remove blinds and soak them in the bathtub in a mixture of warm water and dish soap for about ten minutes. After removing blinds from the tub, dry them off with a clean rag.
  • Blinds still visibly dirty post sponge bath? Spray them down with a multi-purpose cleaner.
  • Give blinds a final wipe down with a clean, damp rag to remove soap or cleaner residue.
  • Allow the blinds to dry for at least an hour before closing and/or rehanging.

How often to clean metal + plastic blinds

Blinds should be routinely cleaned once a month. The more often you clean them, the less disgusting it’ll be. Set yourself a reminder each month. Pay rent; clean blinds. Boom, easy.

Best products to clean metal + plastic blinds

How to clean wood blinds

Wood blinds, much like wood floors, are a bit delicate. While they are hearty enough to withstand a few bumps and curious cat swipes, wood blinds don’t jive well with water.

But, wait — are those really wood blinds? This sounds silly, but they make real convincing fake wood blinds these days. So examine your blinds closely to determine if they are, in fact, real wood. If they’re not, they’re likely made of PVC (translation: plastic that’s doing a really good wood impression). If they’re fake wood, see above for how to clean plastic blinds.

Faux wood blinds are:

  • Heavier
  • “Grain pattern” is exactly the same on all slats
  • Color of the blinds does not change when they are wet

Wood blinds are: Lighter in weight Grain patterns vary slightly Excessive moisture causes color changes and warping

Now that you’ve (hopefully) determined whether your blinds are wood or not, you can move on to cleaning them:

  • Close blinds. Make sure your blinds are closed so that each individual slat is accessible, but straighten them so that they’re open and letting in sunlight.
  • Dust blinds. Trap and lock dust and dirt on blinds with a Swiffer Duster. Try a Swiffer Dusters Heavy Duty Extender to reach the blinds at the top of the window, since they can extend up to six feet. These convenient Swiffer dusters actually absorb the dust instead of spreading it around or sending it airborne (and ultimately into your lungs). If you don’t have a Swiffer duster, a dry microfiber rag will suffice.
  • Using a store-bought wood cleaner, wipe down each slat from top to bottom with a soft rag. Be sure to wring out the rag well, so you’re not dripping cleaner or using an excessive amount. Always be sure to read directions on ready-made cleaning products, since sometimes they need to be diluted before using.
  • Reverse slats and repeat on opposite side.
  • Give blinds a final wipe down with a ready-made wood preservative or lemon oil to restore their sheen.
  • To clean the blind’s “ladders” (aka the strings that hold them in place), you can apply shaving cream to a clean rag and rub it carefully into the strings. No need to rinse. (Yep, you read that right.).

How often to clean wood blinds

Wood blinds should be routinely cleaned once a week to prevent thick layers of dust from accumulating. You should deep clean your wood blinds every six months or so, or about twice a year. If your wood blinds are in the kitchen, you ought to deep clean them more regularly so they don’t get any greasy build up on them.

Best products to clean wood blinds

How to clean curtains + drapes

Curtains require more regular cleaning than blinds. It’s like carpet versus hardwood floors. Curtains soak up dust and smells into their fabric and folds and should therefore be vacuumed and (carefully!) laundered somewhat often. Be sure to check all care tags on your curtains to see if they’re washable or must be dry cleaned before attempting to do so, or you might end up shopping for new curtains.

Washable curtains + drapes

  • Remove all hooks and curtain weights.
  • Shake out curtains outside to remove dust. If they’re super dusty, hit them with a vacuum hose attachment.
  • Follow specific washing instructions on curtains, depending on their fabric. If there aren’t any, we suggest hand washing them in cold water or running them through the machine on a gentle or delicate cycle.
  • Don’t rub or wring out curtains.
  • Either hang dry curtains or run through the dryer on a delicate, low heat cycle.
  • While curtains are drying, dust and clean windows, window sills and curtain tracks and rods. No sense hanging clean curtains back up in a dirty environment.
  • Iron the curtains while they’re still damp, working lengthwise from the inside.
  • Hang the curtains back up while they’re still just a bit damp so that they drop to the proper length.

Non-washable curtains + drapes

  • Remove dust and hair with a vacuum hose attachment or lint roller.
  • If the curtains aren’t difficult to detach, you can even take them outside and shake them like a rug.
  • Spray them with Febreze FABRIC to clean away odors or stale smells.
  • Steam cleaning your curtains using a steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment is also super easy. You don’t even have to take them down! You can even add a pinch of essential oil to your steam cleaner’s water to make your curtains smell good.
  • Dry clean your curtains if they’re made of velvet, velour, chenille, tapestry, brocade, wool, silk or if they’re interlined.

How often to clean curtains + drapes

Curtains should be vacuumed weekly. That’s right: weekly! And you should take them down (we know, it’s annoying) and launder them once a year or so. It’s like cleaning the walls. You never think to do it but will be surprised what a huge difference it makes.

Best products to clean curtains + drapes

  • Febreze FABRIC
  • Steam cleaner with upholstery detachment
  • Washing machine + detergent
  • Iron
  • Vacuum
  • A trusted dry cleaner

Window treatments can really tie the room together, framing your windows with a fun bolt of color, accenting your room with funky tie backs or adding a classy design aesthetic to your otherwise bleak apartment. Both blinds and curtains accumulate dirt and grime easily. When you leave your windows open, outside dust blows in and sullies them—even though that fresh air feels so nice! With the windows closed, the forced air from your heat or air conditioner swirls your homegrown dust bunnies around, encouraging them to nest amongst the windowsills. It’s a lose/lose scenario. But if you make cleaning your blinds and curtains a priority and a routine chore, not only will it elongate the lifespan of your window treatments, but your whole home will feel better because of it.

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