Wood blinds for windows and doors are durable, stylish, and provide excellent light and privacy control. As with any blinds, regular cleaning will help them look better, last longer, and reduce allergen contamination in your home. But unlike metal, plastic, or cloth blinds, wood blinds require very specific cleaning techniques, just like wood floors, to prevent warping and to maintain the wood's beautiful finish.
How to Determine If Your Blinds Are Real or Faux Wood
If you didn't purchase the blinds yourself, you may need to a bit of a detective to determine if your blinds are real or faux wood. Today's faux wood blinds look very similar to real wood but the cleaning techniques are quite different.
Faux wood blinds are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and can be cleaned with just about any type of cleaner and water because moisture will not harm them. Real wood blinds are natural wood that must be handled with less water and the proper cleaners to prevent damage.
Faux wood blinds are heavier, the grain pattern is exactly the same on all slats, and the color of the blinds does not change when they are wet. Wood blinds are lighter in weight, grain patterns vary slightly, and excessive moisture causes color changes and warping.
How Often to Clean Wood Blinds
Wood blinds should be dusted weekly to prevent excessive dirt and grime from becoming a thick coat that is difficult to remove.
At least twice a year, the blinds should be thoroughly cleaned. Wood blinds in kitchens should be cleaned more frequently since grease particles are often airborne and settle on the blind's surfaces.
What You Need
- Wood cleaner for wood floors or furniture
- Lemon oil or wood preservative (optional)
- Microfiber duster, microfiber cloth, or vacuum with upholstery brush
- Small bowl or bucket
- Soft cleaning cloths
- Sturdy step ladder
How to Clean Wood Blinds
Remove the Dust
Dusting is the first critical step when you decide to deep clean wood blinds. If you don't remove the dust from each side of the slats first, you will simply smear it around the surface as you clean and the dust particles can actually scratch the surface of the wood.
Begin by closing the blinds so they are flat against your window. While standing on a sturdy step ladder and using the duster or vacuum, start at the top of the blinds and wipe each slat from left to right. Slowly move down the blind focusing on each individual slat. You may need to lift the adjacent slat slightly to completely clean each slat's surface.
Rotate the blind to expose the other side and repeat the process. While you are dusting, don't forget to clean the header of the blinds and the window sill.
Wipe on the Cleaning Solution
Always read the label directions on the wood cleaner you have selected. Most can be used directly from the bottle but some are concentrated and should be diluted with water.
Place a small amount in a small bowl or bucket for easier cleaning. Dip your cleaning cloth in the cleaning solution and wring the cloth well so it is not dripping.
Starting at the top of the blinds, with the blinds flat against the window, wipe down each slat. As you finish each slat, follow up by wiping with a dry cloth to absorb any excess moisture. Proceed down the blinds. Rotate the slats to the other side and repeat the process.
As the cleaning solution becomes soiled, replace it with fresh cleaner to prevent redistributing the soil.
If you have water stains from rain or excess moisture, the stains will need careful attention and additional treatment. Treat these stains before moving on to cleaning your wood blinds.
Apply a Wood Conditioner
If the blinds have begun to look dull or faded, use lemon oil or a wood conditioner to bring back their rich sheen. Follow the label directions for the product and carefully apply evenly to each side of the slats. Be sure to avoid the hardware and strings of the blinds to prevent staining.
Cleaning Dirty Ladders on Blinds
The strings that hold the slats on vertical blinds are called ladders. These can become dirty from dust, grease, and grime from dirty hands.
To clean the strings, spray a bit of shaving cream on a clean, white cloth. Grasp the string with the cloth and rub the string with the shaving cream. Repeat along each area that needs to be cleaned. You do not need to rinse.