How to Clean Window Coverings

There's nothing quite like looking out a crystal-clear window on a bright sunny day. But if the curtains surrounding that sparkling window are dusty and dirty, it kind of spoils the view. 

You might be surprised to learn that all of the tools you need to clean your window coverings are probably already in your home. Regular cleanings will keep your window treatments looking great, and help them to last longer.

In this article, you will find myriad tips for cleaning your window coverings -- such as blinds, shades, and shutters. Let's get started with cleaning tips for blinds.



Cleaning Blinds

Blinds are made from narrow slats of wood, metal, or plastic held in place by tapes, cords, or colored yarns and ribbons. Blinds can be adjusted up and down or side to side; venetian blinds can also have the angle of their slats adjusted for light control.

  • Vacuum blinds regularly with the brush attachment of your vacuum. Close adjustable slats when vacuuming so you can reach more of their surface.

  • Remove finger marks with a sponge.

  • When blinds require a thorough cleaning, immerse plastic, metal, and painted blinds in water.

  • Natural wood blinds with decorative yarn tapes should not be immersed in water.

  • Touch up dingy white tapes on venetian blinds with white shoe polish.

    Use white shoe polish to touch up dingy white tapes on venetian blinds.

    Use white shoe polish to touch up
    dingy white tapes  on venetian blinds.

Don't drop the curtain on cleaning just yet. Keep reading to find out how to clean curtains.


Cleaning Curtains

Carefully read all the care labels attached to new curtains, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning.  Otherwise, here are some tips for cleaning curtains:

  • Using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum, regularly go over curtain panels for quick cleaning.

  • Vacuum curtains to remove excess dust before washing. Remove curtain rings and clips unless they are permanently attached.

  • Fiberglass curtains should always be hand-washed and never dry-cleaned, but you must wear rubber gloves when washing them to protect your hands from glass filaments. Do not wash fiberglass in a washing machine.

  • Handle cotton curtains gently if they have been hanging in a sunny window; sunlight may have weakened the fabric.

  • Machine-wash sheers, open weave, and other delicate fabrics in a mesh bag, or hand-wash so that the fabric does not stretch or tear.

  • Use curtain stretchers for drying lace or net curtains; if they need to be pressed, iron curtains before they are completely dry.

Cleaning draperies can be a breeze if you follow the tips and guidelines in the next section.


Cleaning Draperies

Draperies are often lined and are usually made of fabrics that are much heavier than those used for curtains. It is usually best to dry-clean draperies. Some drapery fabric is washable; check the care label for this information. Dust draperies with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum. Don't forget to dust the tops of the drapes, valances, and drapery hardware.

  • Remove all hooks and pins -- unless they are permanently attached -- before washing or dry-cleaning.

    Remove hooks and pins from draperies before washing or dry-cleaning.

    Remove hooks and pins from draperies before
    washing or dry-cleaning.

  • If you plan to wash your draperies, test a corner of the fabric in a bowl of warm water and detergent to see if it bleeds. Use only the gentle cycle to wash draperies.

You'll need to wear shades when, in the next section, you see how clean and bright your window shades.


Cleaning Shades

Light-diffusing or opaque shades are usually made of fabric that is washable, and some shades have a protective vinyl coating that makes them easy to clean. Other shades are not washable and must be dry-cleaned.

  • Vacuum shades regularly using the brush attachment. Lower the shades completely before vacuuming to clean the full length; don't forget the tops and valances.

  • Remove finger marks with a sponge or a quick spray of an all-purpose spray cleaner.

  • To thoroughly clean the shades, remove them from the window and spread them out on a flat surface. Test a corner of the shade with a detergent to see if the color bleeds.

  • To clean nonwashable window shades, thoroughly rub the surface with a rough, absorbent cloth dipped in cornmeal. The secret of this treatment is that the abrasiveness and absorption of the cloth and cornmeal pick up the soil and grease. Terry cloth is good for this job, but an old sweatshirt turned inside out is even better. Kitchen flour can be substituted for cornmeal.

  • To clean washable window shades, make a mild soapy solution using a liquid dishwashing detergent, and apply it to a rolled-out shade with a sponge. Rinse with a clean sponge dipped in clear water, and allow it to dry before rerolling.

Keep reading to discover how to best clean shutters.


Cleaning Shutters

Painted or stained shutters are the most common, but some people choose only to seal or varnish their wood shutters. For painted shutters, the best care is probably the least since some polishes and waxes can damage the color or decoration.

  • Vacuum all shutters regularly with a brush attachment, and wipe occasionally with a sponge to remove smudges and finger marks.

  • Use warm soapy water and a cloth to wash painted shutters; wash each louver separately on both sides. If you feel you must wax, use a hard paste wax only once a year.

No matter what type of window covering you have in your home, it's important to give it a proper cleaning. If you stay on top of this job by following the tips and guidelines in this article, your window coverings will thank you!