How to Clean Shutters

shutters

Window shutters can be either decorative or functional, and often times are both. Whether vinyl, natural wood or painted, they add beauty and character to any home. However, if neglected, your shutters will become dingy and dirty, and their beauty can easily be lost. In order to keep your shutters looking their best, routine cleaning not only recommended, it is essential. The good news is that shutters, whether functional or decorative, are relatively easy to maintain, and cleaning them should be a breeze if you follow these simple steps.

Cleaning Wood Shutters

(sometimes known as “Plantation Shutters”)

What You Will Need:

  • Vacuum Cleaner with soft brush attachment
  • Dusting cloth
  • Wood Polish (spray type, such as Pledge)
  • Toothbrush

The Cleaning Process:

  1. At least once a week, sometimes more often (depending upon environmental conditions, such as pet hair, pollen, etc.), using the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner hose, lightly vacuum your shutters to keep them free of excess dust/debris build-up.
  2. At least once every month, spray a dusting cloth with wood polish, and dust the shutters thoroughly. You may need a stepping stool or small ladder to reach your shutters. NEVER stand on a chair or table; these items were not meant to support your standing weight and they could easily tip or break, resulting in injury. If using a ladder or step stool, make sure it is placed on firm, level ground and, if necessary, have someone hold the ladder or stepping stool steady while you perform your job.
  3. If your shutters have small grooves or crevices that collect dust and dirt, spray the toothbrush lightly with your spray polish and use it to clean out the hard-to-reach areas.
  4. Do not use soap and water to clean wood shutters as the water may damage or warp the wood.

Cleaning Vinyl or Painted Shutters

What You Will Need:

  • Vacuum with soft brush attachment
  • Bucket
  • Mild Grease-Cutting Dish Soap
  • Warm Water
  • Two wash clothes or cleaning rags
  • Toothbrush
  • Soft, Absorbent Towel

The Cleaning Process:

  1. At least once a week, sometimes more often (depending upon environmental conditions, such as pet hair, pollen, etc.), using the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner hose, lightly vacuum your shutters to keep them free of excess dust/debris build-up.
  2. In a bucket, combine warm water and dish soap to form a sudsy cleaning solution (about 1 teaspoon of dish soap to 1 quart of water).
  3. Dampen cloth in sudsy water, and wash the shutters thoroughly. You may need a stepping stool or small ladder to reach your shutters. NEVER stand on a chair or table; these items were not meant to support your standing weight and they could easily tip or break, resulting in injury. If using a ladder or step stool, make sure it is placed on firm, level ground and, if necessary, have someone hold the ladder or stepping stool steady while you perform your job.
  4. Dampen your second cloth with clean (non-sudsy) water, and rinse away any soap residue.
  5. Wipe the shutters thoroughly with the dry towel.
  6. If your shutters have small grooves or crevices that collect dust and dirt, dip the toothbrush in the sudsy water and use it to clean out the hard-to-reach areas.

Cleaning Exterior Shutters

What You Will Need:

  • Dish detergent
  • Water
  • Soft bristled brush and/or
  • Sponge mop
  • Buckets
  • Hose
  • Pressure washer (optional)

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Fill a bucket with a solution of 4 parts water and 1 part dish detergent.
  2. Gather your cleaning tool, either a brush or mop. You’ll want something with a long handle if your shutters are placed high on your house.
  3. Begin by using the hose to spray away any loose dirt and debris. If you have a pressure washer available, that can be used in place of the hose and will likely lessen (or completely eliminate) the amount of scrubbing needed.
  4. Starting at the top, dip the chosen cleaning tool into the soapy water and begin scrubbing away any dirt and debris from the siding. Continue working your way down to the bottom of your section.
  5. Use the hose to rinse away the soapy water. Be sure to remove all the soap before it dries or it will leave a mark.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • With regard to exterior shutters, if power washing fails to remove mildew stains, you may want to try scrubbing the area with a solution of 1 part regular laundry bleach with 5 parts water. Test a small, inconspicuous area first as the bleach may cause discoloration.
  • The cleaning procedures indicated above are appropriate whether your shutters are decorative or functional (or both). However, always double check the manufacturer’s recommendations for any specialized cleaning that may be required (i.e. if you shutters have decorative materials or designs attached to them).
  • If you are attempting to clean your shutters (interior or exterior) using a ladder, you should follow necessary ladder safety precaution. Make sure it is sturdy, stable, and tall enough to safely reach the shutters (i.e. you should never stand on the top two rungs). Many hardware stores sell ladder stabilizing devices which are especially helpful when working on uneven ground.
  • Avoid using all purpose cleaners (such as 409® or Fantastik®) on your interior shutters as these may be too harsh (especially for decorative shutters), and may cause discoloration or staining.

Comments

  1. Nancy says:

    I have polywood plantation shutters in my home. The shutters on the windows facing east and west have started smelling like body odor. Any suggestions? I have tried mild detergent, vinegar, and mild bleach mix to no avail.

  2. Frank says:

    Hi, May I know what you used to clean initially before you picked up the smell?

  3. Brenda says:

    I’ve used a vacuum brush on my polywood shutters only to have them end up with horizontal scratches. Can you recommend a “soft” vacuum brush?

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