How to Clean your Blinds, Shades, and Shutters. The Expert Guide

Table of Contents

Window treatments are investments for your home. Like all investments, they need to be maintained properly to reap the full value, which is why this topic is so important to anyone who has, or who plans on purchasing any type of window treatment in the future. In this guide, we’re going to break down several methods for cleaning your blinds, shades, and shutters. We’ll also cover the logic behind some of the methods we use, so that you have a better understanding how it works and when to use it.

1. The Vinegar Wash
2. Erasers
3. Soap and Water
4. Do not Vacuum
5. Dusting
6. Steam it
7. Air Cleaners

The Vinegar Wash

Using vinegar has long been hailed as a catchall for cleaning everything from coffee makers to countertops. Some of the benefits of vinegar include its ability to disinfect while cutting through grime; but don’t be fooled into using vinegar for your window treatments until you understand the how it works and why you may or may not want to use it for cleaning.
First of all, never use vinegar by itself. Dilute vinegar with one part water, two parts vinegar before using it as a cleaning agent. In doing so, you’ll dilute just enough acidity, so it won’t hurt the surface of your window treatments. It’s safe to use this concentration for faux wood blinds, non-wood plantation shutters, and even some types of roller shades which we’ll mention at the end. For faux wood blinds and plantation shutters, your best method for cleaning is to wet a lint-free towel and wipe the surface you want to clean. If you see black stuff on your towel, you can keep wiping with a clean portion of the towel until you don’t see it anymore.
TIP: Don’t fall into the trap of spraying the surfaces with diluted vinegar. The reason we wipe the surface is to prevent the acid in the vinegar from reaching the articulating parts of the blinds or shutters that may cause premature wear over time. Also, never use vinegar on natural wood products or metal hardware. Again, it’s the acid that will damage it. You can use it for some types of roller shades that have been stained with dirt and water, but be careful not to overdo it.


Erasers are fantastic for simple rub marks on just about any surface, not just paper. Just to be clear to some readers, I am talking about real rubber erasers, the kind we used in school, yes those. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. Erasers are great for plantation shutters and blinds, especially if you have children who love to draw on surfaces. When choosing your eraser, make sure it’s rubber and white. Colored erasers and textured erasers might stain or damage the surface of your window treatment, so pay attention to the label when you’re out buying.
How to clean your blinds, shades, and shutters

Soap and Water

When in doubt, use soap and water. The soap I’m speaking of is Dawn brand mild dish soap. Mix about a tablespoon of soap with 8–10 cups of water to get a nice emulsion you can use with everything — blinds, shades, shutters, and even your window frames. Use the same method of dipping a lint-free towel and wiping the entire surface area of what you want to clean. It’s even safe to use on wood surfaces, just remember not to let it dry, wipe it dry immediately after.
TIP: Mix in a half cup of vinegar into your solution to give it a real kick when cleaning heavily dusted or soiled surfaces, just remember not to use it on wood or metal if there’s vinegar in it.

Do Not Vacuum

Modern vacuum cleaners have an incredible amount of suction packed into easy-to-use nozzles that make it all to easy to use on everything. In the case of window treatments, you’ll want to avoid vacuuming with a naked nozzle directly onto the surface. Doing so might create a suction seal that pulls on and damages the window treatment. Instead, use the dusting appliance that came with your vacuum (if one was included). This will look like a nozzle with a brush. You can use this on all surfaces and it will prevent your vacuum suction from damaging your window treatments. One more thing. If you find yourself still wiping dust off with your finger after this, then you may want to consider finishing with a little soap and water.


We love and hate dusting, because in some cases it’s a great way to clean hard-to-reach surfaces, but in other ways it just pushes the dust around without really doing anything. Because of this, look for dusters that are electrically charged. Charged dusters will actually attract dust and trap it into its surface, but even then; you’ll still have to make a couple passes with a duster because it still pushes junk around. So is it even worth dusting your window treatments? Depends. We recommend dusting all your surfaces once a week as a preventative measure to heavy buildup. This doesn’t mean dusting replaces good-ole cleaning. It just makes it easier to clean your window treatments when that time comes.

Steam It

Steamers are great for fabric surfaces and do wonders with laundry. But did you know you can use them for your roller shades? Set your steamer to a low heat and briskly steam the surfaces of your roller shades while they’re fully extended. This will help to loosen the fabric and make it easier to wipe off excessive dust and any grime that may have gotten stuck over time. Don’t overdo it however, because too much moisture and heat might damage the fabric. Be brief, steam and wipe. Steam and wipe.

Air Cleaners

Most homes that have central air usually have a spot where they can replace the air filter from time to time, this keeps the air clean and breathable for the most part. You might also have an additional air cleaner somewhere in your home that cleans the air even more, which is fine. We love air cleaners because they reduce the amount of dust particulates in the air, which in turn keeps window treatments clean as well. If you use an air cleaner in your home, try to keep it away from your window treatments so that the exhaust isn’t constantly blowing of the surface. This constant blowing may unknowingly be concentrating moisture into and around your window treatments which may cause premature aging and long-term damage.

Extra TIP: Avoid air fragrances

When your room fills with a foreign organic smell, the first reaction most people have is to spray the room with some fancy over-the-counter fragrance, but if you have window treatments, you may want to think twice before doing it. Most fragrances hang around in the air and have oil carriers that can stain and damage the surface of your blinds, shades, and shutters. If you think candles might be a better choice, think again because candles burn off tiny particulates of soot from the wick which can settle on the surface of your window treatments. Your best plan to combat foreign smells in your home is to open your windows, vent, and if you really need to use a fragrance, spray it into the lower corner of your room and let the aroma do the rest.

There you have it. No more excuses when it comes to cleaning your blinds, shades, and shutters. And if you’re ever in doubt, you can always consult the professionals at Excellent Blinds & Shutters in Southern California, who are kind enough to share their expertise for this article.

William G.

William G.

A passionate window design expert with years of experience enhancing interiors with creative treatments. William G. specializes in elevating spaces through stylish and functional window solutions.

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