How to Clean Window Blinds, Drapes, and Other Window Fashion Types

Susanne Clemenz | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

Many window fashions can be cleaned safely at home with time and the right techniques. Others, such as some Roman shades, lined draperies on traverse rods, or certain fabrics, require professional cleaning. Here's how to clean window fashions at home.

Cleaning window fashions safely

  1. Roller shades: Vinyl roller shades can be cleaned with a static cling duster or your vacuum's small brush. Two or three times yearly dip a clean sponge in a mild warm water and vinegar solution. Wring the sponge, then wipe and dry both surfaces.
  2. Roman shades: All Roman shades can be dusted weekly with a static cling duster or your vacuum cleaner's upholstery attachment. Remove non-oily stains from washable fabrics by dabbing with club soda. For oily stains, spot clean with a spray laundry product, then dab off excess cleaner with a clean damp cloth. Roman shades with heavy upholstery, tapestry, silk, wool, or other fine fabrics require dry cleaning.
  3. Pleated shades: Weekly vacuuming with the small fabric brush attachment. If that's not enough, protect surrounding surfaces, then spray the shade with an aerosol foam fabric or upholstery cleaner. Wipe off foam immediately, staying parallel with the pleats. Clean spots by dabbing with a water and mild laundry detergent solution. Don't scrub hard. Rinse by dabbing with a clean damp rag. Blot.
  4. Metal and vinyl blinds: Close blinds and vacuum both sides weekly using horizontal motions. Or dust weekly with a static cling duster, removing accumulated dust outside frequently. Once a year wash the blinds. Using cotton gloves or socks. Make a 50-50 solution of warm water and vinegar. Dip your gloved hands in the solution, squeeze out excess liquid, and run each vane between your fingers, avoiding sharp edges. Change water when dirty. Or soak blinds in a bathtub half full of water with vinegar, laundry detergent, or baking soda added. Rinse them, dry them on a sheet or towel, and rehang. Or try hanging blinds on a fence or clothes line and carefully hose them. Another choice: Set blinds on a sheet on the lawn or clean driveway and scrub them with vinegar water and a soft brush (like a window washing brush). Rinse, hang dry.
  5. Curtains and draperies: Smaller washable curtains and smaller unlined washable draperies can be laundered, preferably in a tumble-action machine. Heavy or lined draperies and draperies of silk, satin, tapestry and other unwashable fabrics must be dry cleaned.

Test any cleaning solutions on an inconspicuous part of the window covering. That's the ultimate way to learn how to clean your window fashions.