The Best Way to Clean Blinds, Shades, and Drapes

A bedroom view with beautiful drapes as an illustration for how to clean drapes

As you stand in the window, framed by the beautiful drapes to your sides and the valence hovering over your head, you feel the warm sun streaming through the glass to caress your skin. With your linen shade up you see the beauty of the grass, trees, and sky. The moment is picture perf…

*Cough, cough*

What was that?

As you look, you see dust all over your custom drapes. You look at the bottom of the shade and see stains. Where did all this come from?

Dirt and grime all over your gorgeous work of art.

Once it has been seen, it cannot be unseen. Now you are acutely aware of the soilings that mar the beauty of the view.

Custom window treatments are an investment you want to maintain. You don’t want the beauty of your household hindered by dust, and you don’t want the function of mechanisms ruined by grime. 

Today, I’m going to help you learn how to protect your investment with a few simple cleaning techniques and some expert advice. Let’s look at how to clean blinds, shades, and drapes so you can conquer those dust bunnies, banish grime, and ensure your custom beauties grace your windows for years to come. 

Why It’s Important to Clean Blinds, Shades, and Drapes

You invested in custom window treatments for a reason. You wanted to elevate the aesthetics of your home and improve its efficiency

The problem is that they are constantly exposed to sunlight, dust, occasional spills, and whatever you happen to have clinging to your hands when you touch them. 

Given all that, it’s not surprising that grime builds up and affects the longevity of your window treatments. If you don’t keep your blinds clean, they can become sticky and difficult to operate. Unwashed drapes can trap dirt particles that accelerate fading from sun exposure. All you need is proper cleaning to preserve smooth gliding blind mechanisms and the vibrancy of fabric colors. 

Another issue often overlooked: Dust buildup can affect indoor air quality. Window treatments act like filters that trap dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens. Let’s keep those window treatments clean to preserve a healthy breathing environment for your whole family. 

Understanding Different Types of Window Treatments and Their Cleaning Needs

Time to get ready for a little scrub-a-dub-dub. A variety of window treatments means a variety of different cleaning requirements. Let’s sort those out before we get into the particulars of how to clean blinds, shades, and drapes.

Window Blinds

These can come in vinyl, aluminum, faux wood, or real wood. 

  • Vinyl and aluminum: All you need for these is to dust them regularly with a microfiber cloth or vacuum them with a soft brush attachment. You want to be careful not to scratch up the material, so avoid abrasive sponges and harsh chemicals.
  • Real wood: Perfect for an elegant look, but they require more delicate care. You want to avoid moisture, so dust them regularly with a soft, clean cloth. If you need to do a deep cleaning, use a wood furniture polish recommended by the manufacturer. Whatever you do, never submerge real wood blinds in water.
  • Faux wood: Love the look of wood but don’t want the degree of difficulty caring for them brings? Then faux wood blinds are for you. For the most part, they are much easier to clean than real wood, and all you need to do is dust them frequently. These blinds are made from water-resistant material, so if you need to clean spills, you can use a damp microfiber cloth and mild soap solution. Despite their water resistance, you still want to avoid excessive moisture exposure.

Window Shades

Shades come in fabric, vinyl, or solar screen. They each require their own cleaning care. 

  • Fabric shades: Part of their appeal is that they come in a variety of opacities and textures. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s label for cleaning instructions. Usually, gentle vacuuming with the upholstery attachment will work if you are tackling light dust. Use a damp cloth and mild detergent (such as a liquid dish soap) for spot-cleaning stains. Avoid excessive moisture and rubbing of the material while cleaning these window treatments.
  • Vinyl shades: The cleaning of vinyl shades is similar to vinyl blinds. Dust with a microfiber cloth or vacuum with a soft brush attachment. Harsh chemical and abrasive cleaners are a no-no.
  • Solar screen shades: Solar screen shades resist sun glare and dust, thanks to their tight weave. Usually, regular dusting with a microfiber cloth will be plenty. When it comes to stubborn dirt and grime, use a gentle vacuum with the upholstery attachment on low suction.


Drapes come in a wide range of fabrics, including cotton, linen, polyester, and silk. Regardless of the material used, however, it’s best to go straight to professional cleaining for custom draperies because of the pleats. If you try to wash them yourself, they will never look the same. And we want their beauty to last for years to come. 

If you are dealing with only minor soiling, spot cleaning should be fine. But for more than that, professional cleaning is the way to go. 

Contact the cleaner before taking them in since not all cleaners offer this service. 

Quick Reminder

Always check the manufacturer’s care instructions before you begin to clean your blinds, shades, or drapes. These labels provide guidance so you can maintain the beauty and functionality of your window treatments for years to come. 

Essential Tools and Techniques to Clean Dusty Window Treatments

Cleaning Tools for Window Treatments

Now that you know what materials you need to clean your blinds, shades, or drapes, let’s roll up those sleeves and talk about how to tackle dusting. 

These are the basic materials you will need on hand. 

  • Microfiber cloths: These are lint-free cloths that trap dust while being gentle on surfaces.
  • A vacuum with a soft brush attachment: Dust gets into those crevices in blinds, so you need something to suck it out.
  • Mini-blind dusters: A duster is a handy tool that can grab dust between mini blinds easily with its multiple microfiber slats.

Cleaning Techniques for Window Treatments

Here we go! Here’s how you hunt those dust bunnies. 

  • Blinds:  Close the horizontal blinds and use a microfiber cloth to wipe each slat down. Move from the top of the blind to the bottom as you remove dust.
  • Shades: Vacuum the shade with the soft brush attachment using low suction. If your shade is made of fabric, follow up by using a microfiber cloth for a gentle wipe-down to take care of the remaining dust and debris.
  • Drapes: Remove them from the window and take them outdoors to shake them down. If you vacuum them using the upholstery attachment, use a top-to-bottom motion. Make sure to get into those hems and pleats where dust naturally accumulates.

Deep Cleaning Tips for a Refreshing Look

Are you dealing with visible stains, heavy dust accumulation, or unpleasant odors? Well, it sounds like you need more than just a good dusting. So, learn how to clean that grime, stubborn stains, and build-up through a deep cleaning.

  • Blinds: If you have vinyl or faux-wood blinds that are covered in grime, it’s time for a bath. Submerge them in lukewarm water with white vinegar in a bathtub. (Always check the manufacturer’s instructions first, just in case.) If you have real wood blinds, you shouldn’t even try to tackle a deep clean yourself. Consult a professional for deep cleaning instead. 
  • Shades: If you have shades made of fabric you can spot clean them with a mild detergent solution. Before you dive right in, though, make sure you test the solution on an inconspicuous area first to make sure you aren’t going to have any unusual side effects. You will also want to check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to make sure it’s safe for the fabric. Always avoid saturating the fabric with the solution and avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Drapes: How you deep clean drapes depends entirely on the fabric. Cotton or linen drapes are washable fabrics, so you can hand wash them or machine wash them following the care instructions for the material. Delicate fabrics (such as silk or velvet) require professional dry cleaning. And this brings us to…

When It’s Time to Clean Your Blinds, Shades, and Drapes, You May Want Professional Help

It’s not always a good idea for you to try to clean your own window treatments. As I’ve already noted, delicate fabrics, such as silk or velvet, require professional dry-cleaning services to help you clean them. 

If you have high ceilings and high windows, it may be best to hire professional cleaners to take care of it for you. They will probably give you a pre-cleaning inspection to determine how best to approach the cleaning. Some companies offer on-site cleaning, while others use drop-off and pick-up services. 

Make sure you discuss pricing and turnaround ahead of time to make sure you have a smooth experience. 

Bonus Tip: DIY Stain Solutions for Common Mishaps

You just had your beautiful drapes returned from the cleaners, and then your young child decided to grab them with greasy fingers. Ugh! Now what?

Here are a couple of DIY tips for managing simple situations. 

Light grease stains: Greasy fingers, muddy paws, food splashes. These are things a dab of upholstery cleaner can probably handle. Use a water-based solution. Blot the stain with a clean microfiber cloth to avoid spreading. Always test the solution on a hidden area first. 

Water marks: Water rings and mineral deposits? Use a solution of white vinegar diluted with water. Apply with a spray bottle and blot clean with an absorbent cloth.

Don’t forget: Anytime you use a solution on any of your window treatments, test it in an inconspicuous area to ensure colorfastness. 

Window Treatments are an Investment You Want to Protect

Your window treatments are an investment. You want them to turn your house into a work of art while lowering heating and cooling bills at the same time. Regular, proper cleaning can go a long way to increasing their lifetime value.

If you would like help determining what kind of window treatments are right for your home, feel free to set up a call with us. We would love to hear from you, answer your questions, and see what we can do to improve the quality of your living space with our custom window treatments.

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