Cleaning Wood Blinds

Cleaning Wood Blinds


There are a number of methods one can use to clean wood blinds.  The profession blind cleaner will answer the following questions to his satisfaction before determining which method is appropriate for any given set of blinds:

·         Will the cleaning method used void the owner's warranty?

·         What is the desired outcome? (How clean is good enough?)

·         What is the replacement value of the blind?

·         How long will the cleaning of this blind take?

·         Is the finish a water-based paint, stain or high quality polyurethane? 

·         Is the finish cracked (even almost invisible hairline cracks) or chipped near the route holes, ends of the slats, or along the bottom rail? 

·         Is there evidence that the blind has suffered water damage? 

·         Is the blind greasy or nicotine coated? 

·         How dirty are any fabric tapes, and of what material are they made (synthetics)?

·         What does a look inside the head rail tell you about the blind's environment?

Vacuuming:  Vacuuming the blind with a brush attachment is a good introductory step for excessively dusty blinds.  Vacuuming alone, however, isn't going to remove the fine grime or dust that dulls the shine of the finish.

Hand Detailing:  Several manufacturers recommend using a damp cloth to wipe blinds one slat at a time.  This can be done while they are hanging.  When hanging from your drying rack, you can quickly spray and wipe the blinds, and work around both sides of it easily. They can also be hand cleaned on a table or on the floor – just don't forget to lay down a protective fabric underneath them, so they don't get scratched or slide around.  Old towels work well for this.  Use a mild degreaser, if necessary, to remove heavier grime.  Rubbing the cords and ladders with a wet cloth will improve their looks as well.  Using furniture polishes or waxes that accumulate on the finish and trap dirt are discouraged.  A light application (buff off any excess or the blinds will look greasy, and attract excess dust) of a fine wood oil on many natural woods will bring back the luster and shine.  Fabric tapes can be spot cleaned using a wet cloth, foam upholstery/fabric cleaner, or injection/extraction method of cleaning.

Ultrasonic Cleaning:  While the benefits of this method may be in the effectiveness in cleaning of the cords, etc., care must be taken to minimize damage to the blinds.  Blinds should be in the ultrasonic tank only long enough to blast the dirt off.  Many finishes will withstand 15 seconds just fine.  Some cleaners, however, swear by 1-2 minutes and a rinse. The water should be a mild temperature.  How quickly the water is wiped/blown off the blinds afterwards (especially around the route holes and under the bottom slat, in the head rail, etc.) is crucial.  The longer the finish has to absorb water the more it will swell, and the softer the finish will be.  As the blinds dries, the swelling will go down and cracks will shrink, but they won't actually go away.  For some customers, a bunch of crow feet like cracks and/or discoloration around the route holes or ends of the slats, is an acceptable trade off for removing nicotine, smoke or grime from the cords, etc.  Synthetic fabric tapes clean up well, though care must be taken to dry them quickly (vacuum off the water with a wet vac or On-Site machine, etc. and then blow dry the route holes and bottom rail overlaps.)

Total Tear Down & Reconstruction:  Taking the blind apart and cleaning the cords and rails ultrasonically and the slats by hand is sometimes the best option for dealing with fragile finishes or exceptionally dirty anchor tapes, etc.  As this involves more time and attention to detail, don't sell yourself short when charging for your services or the time needed.

Dry Cleaning:  Dry cleaning solvent does not hurt most finishes and can be used to wipe off the blinds and clean fabric tapes, if one has an On-Site machine (or similar portable unit).

With any method, the key to successfully cleaning wood blinds is to put sufficient time into the details to achieve results that will "wow" the client at a price you both find workable.  With practice, many wood blinds can be cleaned thoroughly in 10-20 minutes depending upon their size, and how dirty they are.

If you need to quickly turn around a lot of wood blinds using the hand detailing method, don't overlook the advantages of enlisting the services of a couple of moms, retirees or other responsible parties looking for quick cash and who would enjoy the diversion while you worked on something else.

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