How to Clean Blinds to Remove Dust and Debris

This easy-to-overlook chore should be part of your weekly cleaning routine.

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Photo: John Granen
Project Overview
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Skill Level: Beginner

In an ideal world, thoroughly dusting home surfaces would be part of our weekly cleaning routines. But in reality, dusting—especially dusting hard-to-reach or awkward places like window blinds—is a chore that's easy to overlook or skip in favor of "doing it next week." Unfortunately, dust and other environmental soils, as well as bio-based soils like hair and dead skin, collect and build up quickly on the slats of blinds, giving them, and the entire home, a dingy appearance.

Before cleaning a new (or new-to-you) set of blinds, consult the manufacturer's instructions, which can typically be found on the brand's website. These will provide special instructions about what to use and what to avoid when cleaning blinds.

What You'll Need

Materials

Supplies for Dusting

  • Microfiber cloth or duster
  • All-purpose cleaner or dish soap (optional)

Supplies for Vacuuming

  • Vacuum
  • Dust brush attachment
  • All-purpose cleaner or dish soap (optional)

Supplies for Deep Cleaning

  • Dish soap
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Tarp or old towels (optional)

Instructions

How to Clean Blinds with a Duster

Routine cleaning of blinds, which involves wiping the slats using a dry microfiber cloth or duster, should be done weekly. After dusting, use an all-purpose cleaner or sudsy water to wipe away any stuck-on dirt or grimy patches, if needed. Don't use liquid cleaners until most of the dust has been removed and avoid making a drippy mess while cleaning.

  1. Open Blinds

    To thoroughly clean a set of blinds, begin by opening them. While it is easier (and allowed!) to dust the blinds while closed, doing so will clean only half of each slat. If your blinds have reversible slats, close them and clean one side, then reverse the slats and clean the other side.

  2. Dust from Top to Bottom

    To dust open blinds, tightly grip both sides of the slat with a microfiber cloth. Start at the top of the blinds, wiping each slat, and working your way down. For horizontal or Venetian blinds, work from the left side of the slat to the right; for vertical blinds, work from the top of the slat to the bottom.

    Shake out or replace the cloth as needed while dusting. A microfiber duster with a handle can be used in place of a microfiber cloth and can be a more comfortable alternative. Telescoping dusters can be especially helpful for cleaning high or hard-to-reach blinds.

  3. Spot Clean Blinds

    To remove stuck-on residue from blinds, lightly spray a section of a microfiber cloth with a gentle all-purpose cleaner. Diluted dish soap can also be used; dip the cloth in sudsy water and squeeze out excess so that the cloth is damp but not dripping. Using a gentle but firm touch, wipe away any stuck-on residue and/or dirt streaks.

  4. Vacuum Area

    Vacuum the area around the blinds, including the window casings, using the appropriate vacuum attachments for those spaces. This will pick up dust that has fallen during the course of cleaning the blinds.

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Helen Norman

How to Clean Blinds with a Vacuum

Routine cleaning can also be performed using a vacuum cleaner fitted with a soft dusting brush attachment.

  1. Close the Blinds

    Start with the blinds closed. Affix a soft dusting brush attachment to the vacuum cleaner.

  2. Vacuum Each Slat

    Working from the top of the blinds to the bottom, vacuum each slat, moving the brush attachment slowly in a straight line. Holding the bottom rail will help to keep the blind taut while you vacuum.

  3. Reverse the Slats and Repeat

    Reverse the slats so that they are closed the other way, and use the same vacuuming technique to clean them. If the slats cannot be reversed while hung, take the blinds down and vacuum them on a flat surface, flipping them over after cleaning the first side.

  4. Spot Clean Blinds and Vacuum the Area 

    If needed, spot-clean any stuck-on residue using the method described above. Then vacuum the area around the blinds, including the window casings, to pick up any dirt and debris dislodged while cleaning the blinds.

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Jay Wilde

How to Deep Clean Blinds

Very dirty or deeply stained blinds should be deep cleaned in the bathtub. This method requires removing the blinds from the windows, and should be done after consulting the manufacturer's instructions, as submerging some blinds in water can cause permanent damage like rust. This method should not be used on cellular or natural wood blinds, as soaking those materials in water will result in damage.

  1. Fill Tub

    Fill the bathtub with warm water and a few drops of dish soap, using your hands to agitate the water to ensure the soap fully dissolves. If scratching the tub is a concern, line it with a sturdy tarp or old towels before filling it to provide a protective barrier between the blinds and the basin. 

  2. Take Down and Open Blinds

    Remove the blinds from the window and open them so that they are fully extended.

  3. Submerge Blinds

    Place the blinds in the bathtub, submerge the slats, and allow them to soak for 10 minutes. Draping the top rail over the side of the tub will help secure the blinds in place.

  4. Wipe Slats

    After allowing them to soak, use a microfiber cloth to wipe each slat clean.

  5. Rinse Blinds

    Drain the tub and rinse the blinds with clean water.

  6. Dry and Rehang Blinds

    Using a clean microfiber cloth, dry the blinds thoroughly before rehanging them.

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