Cleaning Luminettes

Luminette Cleaning Basics:

The cleaning of Luminettes is not difficult if one pays attention to some important details.  These expensive custom treatments can be damaged by mishandling or improper cleaning techniques, temperatures or improper steaming.  The professional blind cleaner that invests the time in learning about the product, its care and cleaning, will find this to be a profitable and rewarding service to perform for their clients.

This article will focus on the basics of ultrasonic cleaning for Luminettes.  Related topics such as spotting (paint etc.) or repairs (track, restringing) will be discussed in separate articles.   The best training information we are aware of for safely cleaning Luminettes using the injection/extraction cleaning method is included in the training program provided by Adco On-Site.   Also, in this article, we'll assume the Luminette is being cleaned at a shop.  Those who do mobile cleaning can simply adapt the outline to fit their set-up by adjusting or eliminating several steps discussed (such as rolling and transporting the Luminettes as they can be simply carried to the truck or trailer or slung in a sheet as mentioned for a short trip out the door). 



The condition of the Luminette BEFORE cleaning should be clearly Luminettes All Over Furniture Example BCBiz 20120131-00732discussed with the prospective customer BEFORE you finish your quote or consider cleaning their treatment(s).  Ownership of existing stains, damage to sheers, puckering or other deficiencies needs to be established.  Liability for replacing a damaged Luminette is not something your budget can afford if you intend to make money cleaning these!  What if you walk into an appointment to find $5K worth of them thrown with other things on the couches in the family room?

We have a "Luminette Inspection Form" that we encourage you to personalize and adapt for your own use.  While cleaning Luminettes may be routine, the inspection process should be done thoroughly EVERY time as one "surprise" could be expensive.  Using a checklist helps to keep you focussed on the details, and also allows one to present your knowledge to the customer as you ask for their signature as a part of the process.  Discussion with them regarding what you point out during the process also helps to manage their expectations and define the services you are going to perform for them.

Mounting:  Is the Luminette properly mounted?  It is not uncommon to find broken brackets, vanes that rub a lower window sill or a wand that sticks out because the cord is too tight.  If you remedy all mounting issues when you are taking the Luminette for cleaning or come back prepared to do so before rehanging, the clean treatment can be securely hung as it should be and will look its best.

Puckering:  Puckers (wavy dents in the sheer face fabric) are inherent to this product according to Hunter Douglas.  Some fabrics will show puckering or be more apt to pucker (shiny sheers - Angelica) than those with more open coursely woven fabrics (Linea).  Remember when you bring it back clean, it will be shinier with the dingy dirt removed and the light may be different (different time of the day) so pointing out the existence of puckering is important to establish beforehand.   Puckers are caused by uneven stress on or in the face fabric.  Some are just random dents that will move or dissappear when the fabric is touched, brushed or repositioned, while others are caused by either uneven tension on the supporting vanes (hitting a window sill and being pushed out slightly, for instance).  Deforming puckers from deforming of the fabric from stress (suction of harsh vacuuming, brushing/dusting, etc.) or improper steaming, stretching or some other stress to the fabric unlike the "casual" puckering, may not be reversible.  If the vanes in the back are pushed out by a window sill significantly, it isn't unusual to see a zone of puckers above that area.  While Pucker Luminette Example2  BCbiztaking before and after pictures are a good idea, puckering, unless severe or the light is just right, is hard to document in a picture so use of a disclaimer or qualifying statements in your inspection report are recommended.   Pictured here are Luminettes a home owner made an incompetent blind cleaner replace - costing them $2k and a lot of grief as their improper cleaning and later steaming puckered them severely.

If the owner has cats or kids, slashes, splashes or other imperfections are also not uncommon and should be noted.  Proper handling and cleaning will NOT affect existing tears, pilling or frayed edges along the bottom of the fabric.  The client, however, will look at them more closely when you bring them back - so be sure any deficiencies are noted as existing beforehand.  Also, be sure to mention if this is the first time that an older (filthy) Luminette is being cleaned that you don't know what is under the now (perhaps battleship gray) dingy soiling.  After cleaning sometimes one can see oily spots, finger prints from the paint from five years ago, or an oily zone oxidized by time from a spill, animal stains that will not come out, but which was masked by the heavy surface soils.  {Sometimes you will see things in the shop under flourescent lights that aren't visible in the light of the window where the Luminette was hung}.

Don't forget to look at the vanes and show the owner the back of the Luminette. Due to the effects of the sun and air flow through the fabric of the vane there may be discoloration of the fabric or differences in color in different areas of the vane. This darkening is often not going to be totally removed even with the best of Lumy Sun Filtration Soil Zones above window sill  BCbiz Examplecleaning techniques, as time, oxidation and such may have created a permanent change.  Dirty zones where the oils of a cat or dog have accumulated also may dramatically be improved, but not removed as one doesn't know what may be underneath the surface dirt.  Just like some food or other debris stains may be removed, but still leave a light shadow where oily substances oxidized on the fabric and left a permanent change in the way the light hits the fabric.

Though not common, glue line failure inside the vanes where the sheer is held sometime exists.  If there is any sign that the vanes are separating DO NOT clean the Luminette.  The original owner's product is covered by Hunter Douglas' warranty and they need to discuss such issues with Hunter Douglas; water and failing glues are a sure recipe for disaster.  In our experience, the Evening Star (room darkening) vanes seem to be more prone to glue line failures and weaknesses if they have been left wet with previous cleanings or due to environmental issues.  You will see this especially near the bottom of the vanes.  If a little pressure tugging the face fabrics where they go into the vane on the front to open up, one may not want to risk cleaning, or proceed with caution (and pay attention to speed drying techniques mentioned later).

The newer Luminettes with drapery accent panels or fabrics incorporated into their design are currently NOT recommended for ultrasonic cleaning by Hunter Douglas. In talking with the brand managers they mentioned concerns over glue failures. Injection/extraction methods are approved.  {As we have yet to have an opportunity to test cleaning processes on these ourselves, we currently can provide no further information.}



Luminettes are constructed of a synthetic fabric with a variety of possible sheer face materials which will wrinkle, crease, snag, stretch or could be damaged just like any other delicate sheer material.  The vanes on the back, while flexible, will also crease and should NOT ever be bent enough to put a crease or fold in them as damage to the face fabric and a line in the vane (if not a crooked vane) will be the result.

When new, Luminettes come rolled around a 5 inch cardboard tube.  These Luminette tubes are the best way to transport them to and from the window where they hang.  One can use any smooth, stiff clean 5-6 inch tube of sufficient length if actual Luminette tubes are not available.  If a tube is not available, the Luminette can be carefully laid flat with the vanes stacked on top of one another and the sheer fabric looping off the sides, however, laying anything on top of them or collapsed loops in will result in crease lines in the sheer that must be steamed out after cleaning.

Before removing the Luminette, prepare the area where you are going to lay it.  Do you have a tube on top of a clean sheet (or similar) laying ready?  To remove the Luminette, detach the velcro tab on the wall side returns.  Then working across each panel slightly lift and slide the vane off each clip.  The hook in the clip faces one direction, so by pushing up and back (or forward if you prefer) in the direction that lifts them off the groove of the clip, they can be quickly slipped off vane by vane. Use one hand to hold the back of the growing stack of the vanes as the other unclips them just below the upper hemline.  Avoid grabbing the face sheer and try to keep them stacked evenly (straight across) without putting stress on the sheer. A small ladder positioned to allow you to stand comfortably and hold the stack until you are ready to lay it down often makes things easier.

Luminette on Roll and Flat on Sheet Example BCbizUsing one or two clean colored single bed sheets one can quickly make a nice protective work area for rolling Luminettes.  (If you lay a Luminette on a dirty floor, a carpet full of pet hair or across a sharp object you've just created other potential problems or more work for yourself.) Multiple Luminettes can be rolled onto one tube, however, they should rolled on evenly so the fabric isn't spiralling seriously or putting a twisting stress on the fabric.  To roll the Luminette onto the tube, lay it stacked on the floor after taking it down on top of a clean sheet; hold the leading edge of the Luminette evenly across the tube with your hands as you lift it up to waist level and with your arms spread out to the sides holding the Luminette. Now slowly spin the roll to wrap it around the tube.  If you are holding it at waist level against your legs and bending over, you can then watch the Luminette as it rolls around the tube inspecting it once again for any spots or things you may not have seen when it was in the window.  When done rolling it onto the tube, lay it back across the sheet and flip one side over the tube, tuck it under making sure you have no lifted vanes, and roll the tube toward the tucked side to wrap the whole thing, tucking the ends of the sheet into the tube or flipping them back over the bundle.  You then have a protected Luminette for safe transport.  

If you are transporting Luminettes "flat," lay several panels flat across the sheet, flip the sides over the top and create a long narrow bundle that you can lift by grabbing the edges of the sheet with the Luminettes slung inside.  Keep the bundle straight and avoid bending it too sharply, laying anything on top of them, or grabbing them such that you grab and crease the sheer fabric inside the bundle.   (When you get to the shop, the dirty sheets are tossed aside for washing as a sheet loaded with cat hair or that was against a dusty nicotine stained and smelling fabric is not one you want to use around a clean blind later.) 



Before cleaning Luminettes, one should be sure the work area is prepared.  One doesn't want dirty surfaces, sharp edges or other hazards in the way.  Is the place you plan to hang it for drying ready?  Is your ultrasonic tank ready with a suitable cleaning agent?  For best results, one ought to clean Luminettes before doing other items that will muddy the water.

Unwrap the Luminettes you are going to clean when everything is ready.  By holding the edges and lifting (and dropping the roll a few times depending on how wide the panel is) one can quickly stack the panel to be cleaned in a flat pile.  Lift the pile by holding the back edge of the vanes (avoid handling or grabbing the sheer fabric whenever possible to minimize creating creases and puckers).  Lay the Luminette into the wash side of the ultrasonic tank.  The cleaning tank used should preferrably be longer than the Luminette, however, if you have to clean a Luminette that is longer than your tank is, fill it high and have someone assist you in helping to hold the part of the Luminette that won't fit into the tank (You don't want it flopping over the edge creating stress, puckers or damage, especially if it is wet and heavy!) so it lays as straight as possible.  Clean one end, and then slide it to the other end to do the remaining section.

The water should be warm, not hot (under 100 degrees, just "warm" is better) as when the fabric relaxes and gets stressed it seems to be more susceptable to puckering or creasing if not handled carefully.  As larger or longer Luminettes are quite heavy when wet, having an assistant is cheaper than making a mistake trying to wrestle one alone.  If the Luminette is really dirty (soot, nicotine etc.), adding a Citrus based cleaner or mild degreaser to boost the power of your regular cleaning agents is recommended.   

When handling a Luminette before, during, and after cleaning it is Holding a Luminette during cleaning steps Examplebest to pinch and hold them by the back of the vanes close enough to the top of the vane that they don't flop around.  For long ones or extra support, the second hand graps and helps to guide or move them around somewhere near the middle or lower depending upon what you are trying to do.   Avoid grabbing the sheer face fabric or allowing the vanes to bend too much as the stress on the sheer may cause problems that could show up later.  Take the time to insure that when you grab the pile, you won't be loosing vanes from the stack and having things flopping around.

Leave the Luminette in the wash side of the ultrasonic tank long enough for the sonics to do their magic.  If you have an extremely dirty one or one from a smoker's home, it doesn't hurt to let it soak (Soaking is not recommended for Evening Star/room darkening Luminettes) for a few minutes to soften up the grime.  When the ultrasonics are on, be sure to gently move and flip the Luminette around once or twice so all areas are given sufficient exposure to the ultrsonic power.  Most of your cleaning will be done in the first minute or so, though leaving a Luminette in for a few minutes won't hurt it.

Before lifting the Luminette out of the wash tank, take the time to make sure it is laying in a nice easy to grab and lift stack with all the vanes parallell to each other. Get a firm grip on the back of the vanes and lift it smoothly up out of the water. Holding the Luminette for a minute or so to allow the dirty wash water ("drag out") to drain will make a BIG difference in the final results.  If one puts a soaking wet Luminette directly into the rinse water, they have just added a lot of dirt to the rinse - so a clean rinse is compromised and after a couple of Luminettes, the rinse water will be too dirty to be effective.  Pay attention to your procedures, and the results will reflect the investment made at each step along the way.    



The quality of your rinse water will affect the final outcome.  We know of cleaners who mistakenly believe that one must clean or rinse the Luminettes twice as they have trouble with the wavy wicking lines after the first cleaning.  If one has clean rinse water (deionized water works great, but is not necessary, if it is soft and not full of minerals or other contaminants), there isn't going to be as much of an issue with residues when the water evaporates.

Lay the Luminette being cleaned into the rinse tank after it has a few moments to drip out, and long before your arm feels like falling off from fatique holding it.  If the Luminette is large or long, you can hold it in several places as long as it is only gently bending, and the water will drain off the low spots faster than travelling all the way down to the bottom.  Having a short step ladder to step up onto if the Luminette is long, also is a trick some "vertically challenged" people use.

Leave the Luminette in the rinse tank long enough to allow the cleaner water to get into the vanes.  If you are doing several of them, rotate them through each step. Move them gently around a bit as they lay in the water to encourage a better rinse through the whole stack.  Before lifting them out of the rinse tank, be sure to once again have them stacked to grab firmly.  Do not lift them out until you have checked to be sure that you are all set up to hang them promptly.  Clean wet Luminettes get heavy quickly and can't be laid down without risking some wrinkling. 



There are a variety of methods used by different cleaners to hang Luminettes for drying.  Briefly we'll mention a few.

Some use a long Luminette rail mounted for that purpose or bring the original rail along to use for this purpose.  This works fine, however, it requires extra time and risks damage if you are handling and transporting Luminette rails all over the place.

Other cleaners slip drapery pins into the holes of the Luminette before cleaning or during the rinse and then flip these pins either into a drapery rod with glides or over a suitable pole mounted for the purpose.  This provides an easy way to move them around and a quick, convenient way to hang them or take them down.

Using bent shower curtain rings mounted on a rod is another option.  It takes some practice to get the rhythm of slipping them onto the "hooks."  However, moving them around is easy and taking them down is easy as one can pinch and lift off multiple vanes at a time.

Another method promoted by some involved draping the Luminette over a suspended large diameter PVC pipe, or similar, so that it hangs laying over it with the sides parallel to the floor. (We aren't as familiar with this method, and have some reservations about its use at present.)

Regardless of the method used to hang the Luminettes, there are several things that should be true of any proper set up.  Insure the Luminettes will hang level or straight, as you don't want them drying with uneven tension between the vanes and sheer face fabric.  Have a system that allows you to evenly space the vanes, preferrably similar to the way they are on their own rail (about 3 inch gabs to shape sheers nicely).  A system that allows you to move them easily back and forth to do spotting, inspect them or simply move them aside out of the way after they are dry is best.

As the Luminette's vanes naturally hold more water than the sheer and take longer to dry, problems in drying occur in the sheers along each side of the vanes and near the bottom along the "zone of evaporation."  Any residue in the water builds up to form wicking lines that look like faint white (or brown, if dirty) stripes parallel to the vanes or wavy lines along the bottom of the Luminette.  One can avoid this problem in several ways.

Vacuum out the water.  Simply spend a few minutes to suction the water out of the vanes with a Shade Brite tool, or using a PB3 and an appropriate cleaning head before the drying process gets too far along.  This will reduce the drying time dramatically and minimize the water available to cause wicking lines down the sides of the vanes.  If you go back and gently vacuum the very bottom of the vanes a few minutes later (or a couple more times on really long vanes), the water that creates the wavy bottom lines will also be reduced.  Spread out the damp Luminette so the vanes are a few inches apart and get a good air flow moving to further reduce the drying time.

Check the Luminette after it has started drying to see if there are any signs of wicking.  If you see some along the bottom only, it is possible to just flush the lower zone up to a point ABOVE the wavy lines using a bucket of clean water if you can gather the Luminette into a stack.  Then re-vacuum the wet zone as you spread it out to finish drying.

Don't leave the returns flapping loose.  A clean clothes pin can be used to clip them evenly (without a pucker at the top) alongside the first vane which will prevent puckering along the edge. Ideally you want them to dry in the desired position.



When the Luminettes are dry, rolling them back onto a roll for transport or storage is preferrred to simply stacking them in a pile, as they are less likely to pick up creases in the sheer, if handled carefully.

Steaming: Often minor wrinkles and creases in the sheer can be removed by gently steaming the Luminette while it is hanging on the drying rack or after it is rehung in the window.  The Luminette should only be steamed when it is hanging in the desired position with the vanes straight and the sheer relaxed to billow between vanes.  Steaming a Luminette without waving the head enough to eveny spread the heat can created puckers and relaxing the fabric with heat when it is under stress (crooked, etc.) and allowing it to cool sets the wrong memory in the fabric.  Wafting steam gently over the sheer without touching the fabric or doing hot bursts is desired.  Steam from the back or when they are stacked and in the desired shape from the front without pushing the fabric.  It is better to make a few passes over a spot, than hover and create a deformation in the fabric because the excess heat changes the tension in one spot in the fabric. (See the puckering picture above).

Finishing your Luminette cleaning process with a steaming (if they need it) will resolve many light creases.  If they are stacked, dusted with steam and allowed to cool in that position they may hang better than they did new out of the box.

This article is meant to serve as a basic outline of the cleaning process.  In other articles, we'll devote more attention to specific steps such as spotting, correcting common installation issues and basic adjustments or repairs.  The information comes from the authors personal experiences in cleaning hundreds of Luminettes and evalutations as well as feedback from other professional blind cleaners.  We realize there are some who will have "other methods."  However, we've also taken more than one picture of Luminettes ruined by incompetent blind cleaners.  We've also been called by consumers to clean Luminettes that had just been cleaned by competitors - but who left the wrinkled, with water lines or with other easily correctable issues.

This material is NOT to be published publically or distributed.  It is intented strictly as a reference for our Members.  In our cleaning Luminttes training session, we cover the material in more depth with plenty of illustrations.

Luminette is a registered trademark of Hunter Douglas.

Thinking About Cleaning Luminettes?

When the retail price of a product can easily be over $43 per square foot it pays to know how to properly clean them!  The true professional blind cleaner will acquire the knowledge and expertise necessary to clean this product with minimal risk before adding this to their repertoire.  

Read more ...

Bent (shower) curtain hooks on a straight drying rack make hanging fast and easy.


Lummy Dried on Rack Ready to Come DownPictured at the left are some Luminettes in stacked position, ready to be taken down and returned to a tube for transport back to the client.


While being hung to dry, the position of the Luminette is important.  If they dry in the wrong shape or position, they may not hang properly when rehung on their track.  The judicial use of clothes pins to clip the return vane to the first regular vane is shown. 

Luminette Clothes Pin Return ImproperThe picture with the circle illustrates the puckering that should be avoided due to improper tension on the sheer from poor alignment of the vanes.


    (This was a trade tip in the Newsletter.  Detailed procedures our will be available to Members in this manual very soon, so stay tuned!)


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