How to Clean Vertical Blinds

One of the most aggravating, but necessary, jobs in keeping your house spic and span is cleaning your vertical blinds. Blinds represent your house both inside and out, and your house represents you.

Fabric Blind Considerations

  • Soaking fabric vanes will cause them to lose their sizing, fire retardant and soil repellent additives.
  • Never use hot water to clean fabric vanes.
  • To dry fabric vanes, never put them in a clothes dryer, wring them out, fold them over a clothes line or crush them. Instead, use a towel to gently remove any excess moisture. Then re-hang them and allow them to air dry completely. If you are concerned about water spots, a blow dryer or fan can be used to speed up the drying process.

Dusting Vertical Blinds

You Will Need:

  • Duster
  • Dust or enzyme spray

Steps to Dust Blinds:

Dusting vertical blinds regularly, as you do the rest of your home, will keep them cleaner longer. Use a duster that lifts the dust right off the blinds rather than on that moves it around, such as a rag. The Fuller Ostrich Feather Duster or Swiffer Dusters are good choices here.

  1. Use a dusting detergent spray or enzyme spray on the slats to loosen dust.
  2. Starting at the top, run the duster down to the bottom. Repeat for each slat.
  3. Replace the duster and/or apply additional spray as needed.
  4. If the blinds are especially dirty, it may be helpful to vacuum them first and/or follow the disting with a good washing using the steps above.

Quick (Dry) Cleaning for Vertical Blinds

You Will Need:

  • Vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment
  • Lamb’s wool duster (NOT a plastic duster)
  • A rubber dry sponge (NOT a cellulose wet sponge)
  • All-purpose cleaner in a spray bottle
  • Clean, soft cloths

Steps to Clean the Blinds:

  1. It is often easiest to clean vertical blinds while they are still hanging. This is true for vinyl, aluminum, fabric and wood. It is best NOT to take them down.
  2. Use the brush attachment on your vacuum to gently remove any loose dust and debris. The brush uses less suction, so it is more gentle on the blinds. Start at the top and clean in a downward motion. If you brush upward, the slats may come unhooked.
  3. Follow the vacuum cleaning with the lamb’s wool duster. Again, start at the top and work down the slats.
  4. For fabric and vinyl blinds, use the rubber dry sponge to remove stubborn dust and residue the vacuum or duster has not removed.
  5. For spot cleaning soiled areas, spray an all-purpose cleaner onto a clean, dry cloth and rub it on the spot. Never spray a cleaner directly onto a slat. Rinse by rubbing a cloth moistened with clean water over the area.
  6. If fabric blinds become very dirty, take them to a professional cleaner for the best results.

Washing Vertical Blinds

You Will Need:

  • Vertical Blind Cleaning Tool
  • Buckets
  • Mild soap or detergent (choose one that is safe to use on the type of blinds you are cleaning)
  • Water
  • Towels or drop cloths

Steps to Wash Hanging Blinds:

  1. Vertical blind cleaning tools can be found at most janitorial supply stores. If not, you can make one. Take a pair of BBQ tongues. Cut a cellulose sponge to fit into the ends of the tongs and glue the pieces securely using waterproof glue. Clamp and allow the glue to set overnight.
  2. Cleaning blinds can be messy. It may be helpful to place a tarp or several towels under the blinds to catch any drips and protect the floors.
  3. Fill one bucket with warm water and add a small amount of mild soap or detergent.  If you are unsure about the color fastness of your blinds, test a small area first.
  4. Fill a second bucket with clean, cool water. This will be the rinse water.
  5. Dip the cleaning tool in the soapy water. Allow the sponges to become saturated.
  6. Starting at the top of your blinds, Place the blinds slat between the two sides of the cleaning tool and press it together. Slide it down to the bottom.
  7. Clean the sponges in the rinse water and squeeze them out.
  8. Dip them in the soapy water and repeat the cleaning. If the blinds are especially dirty, it may take several swipes over each slat to get them completely clean. Change both the soapy water and rinse water as necessary to avoid reapplying the dirt.
  9. Once clean, allow the blinds to air dry completely. They can also be dried with a towel to remove any excess moisture and avoid drip marks.
  10. If there are stained areas, treat them with a spot cleaner or stain remover applied to a soft cloth.

Steps to Wash Removed Blinds:

  1. In some cases, it will be easiest to remove the blinds and wash them. If the blinds are flexible, such as fabric blinds, they can be removed and washed in a bathtub. However, if they are stiff, caution will need to be used to prevent any creases, bends or other damage.
  2. Remove the blinds using the steps below. If needed, mark the direction the blinds were facing. Although it may seem obvious, it can be difficult to tell which side is the front. You may also want to number them so you can reinstall them in the same order.
  3. Spread out a tarp outdoors or place the blinds in a bathtub, depending on their size and stiffness.
  4. Wash the slats with warm, soapy water and a soft cloth or sponge.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  6. Dry each slat with a soft towel.
  7. Re-hang the slats and allow them to dry completely.
  8. If you are concerned about water spots, place a fan in front of the blinds to speed up the drying process.

Removing and Reinstalling Vertical Blinds

While cleaning, you may notice that one of the slats or vanes is damaged and needs replacing. To remove a vane for replacement or cleaning:

  1. Open the blinds completely.
  2. In turn, lift each vane up and off the hook on the holder or carrier.
  3. Bend the vane outward to open the holder and bend it down to pull it out
  4. For vinyl or aluminum vanes with a spacer chain, remove the screw or clip that secures the end of the chain, feed the chain out through the vane you’re removing and as many others as necessary to get to the damaged vane.
  5. For fabric vanes, disconnect the spacer-chain connector from one side of the vane weight and pull the weight out of its pocket in the bottom of the vane
  6. Obtain a replacement vane at the place where you purchased the blinds.
  7. To install a vane, orient it the same way as the other vanes. Grasp the vane near the top and gently push it up into the holder, then down to lock it into place.
  8. For vinyl or aluminum vanes, thread the chain through the holes in the replacement vane and then through all other vanes up to the chain-anchor point. Be sure to maintain the proper spacing.
  9. For fabric vanes, reinsert the vane weight (clip side up) into the pocket of the vane and clip the spacer chain connector to it.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Clean blinds weekly with a quick vacuum for easy upkeep. This will also minimize the need for more thorough cleanings and washings.
  • When in doubt, contact the manufacturer or dealership for additional cleaning advice. Vertical blinds can be an investment that is worth protecting and cleaning properly. There are also professional services that will clean you blinds for you.


  1. Dan says:

    Above, you indicate that I’ll need

    “A rubber dry sponge. (NOT a cellulose wet sponge.)”

    Then later, in the ‘Tools you will need’ section it says “…Take a pair of barbecue tongues. Cut a cellulose sponge to fit into the …”

    so, which kind of sponge is needed? Cellulose seems fine, yes?

  2. D.C. says:

    My fabric verticals got bent when my painter took them down. Can they be straightened out?

  3. Joan says:

    I put my vertical blinds in the washing machine on gentle; do not spin them. I put them in a pillow case cover with a zipper, and washed with cold water. I hung them over the curtain rod in the bathroom to dry, and they came beautifully. Some were wrinkled, and I just ironed them. It’s not an easy job but it saves on buying new ones.

  4. John says:

    The wife washed the blinds in a pillow case and used conditioner to make them smell nice. But a few weeks later they started to give off a horrible odor! So we washed them again in the washing machine using a different conditioner. That was two days ago but the foul smell has started coming from them again. Has anybody else had or heard of this problem?

  5. Theresa says:

    I have been reading and trying something, and reading and trying something else and buying cleaners, sponges, steam cleaners, and calling “hard to find” people that will clean blinds, quote me something outrageous and then not show up! I asked my seven housekeeping girl cousins at dinner the perplexing question of, “how do I clean soiled verticals?” After dead stares at one another, stuttering and dumb looks at me and each other – they had no idea. Today, I could not take it any more! I snapped each vertical from above, took out the metal slat (1/2″ x 3″), left the metal weight down at the bottom, of course, and put them in a large perforated cloth bag (for laundry). I threw them in a nice warm bath in the machine, on delicate, with OxiClean and let them go! Long day though; I only did six at the time, so they wouldn’t get tangled. I popped them out of machine quickly and into the dryer for 5 minutes, then popped them out of that machine and right back upstairs to the window. Took me four loads to get the double window done. I’m so happy; now I have lots more to do!

  6. Maria says:

    I think that the rubber sponge is for the dry cleaning and the cellulose sponge is for the wet clean.

  7. Enid says:

    I tried the pillow case method and was advised not to use conditioner. It worked very well; no smell and the blinds were great.

  8. Gloria says:

    I have vertical blinds that I am not able to remove. How do I clean them? Is there a tool available to buy to do this job; what type of cleaning material and how do I keep the blinds clean longer?

  9. Gail says:

    I have soaked my verticals in a bucket of water with Nappy Soaker, but when I tried to dry them, the material they were made of came off. NEED HELP!

  10. Mona says:

    This is a hard job and the best way I have found to clean them is to take four at a time and put them in the bath tub with a good cleaning product and let them soak. No need to scrub. When the dirt is off, use an old towel to dry them and get rid of any left on dirt and then snap them back into place. :-)

  11. Carol says:

    On Thursday, I decided this is it; every vertical blind was taken down room by room. The bath was filled to just under half, I added a capful of liquid wool wash and put the blind in. Whilst soaking, I took down the ones out of the next room and so on until the job was done. By the time I had done the Venetian blinds, I was well jiggered, but what a great job once I got it right – using bath towels to soak up drips from each blind, which after rinsing, I draped over a concertina rack. Next morning, every room smelled really fresh; no creases on the blinds. Hard going, but didn’t have to buy new ones.

  12. Linda says:

    I just moved into a condo that was built in 1976 and the sliding doors have very dusty vertical blinds that are original to the unit. Cleaning them seems like a terribly time-consuming job, so I just called the local dry cleaners for a price to have them done professionally. Ready for a shock? Each vane will cost $4 — so the professional cleaning bill for three sliding glass windows would set me back $300!! I will start with one window at a time with vacuuming, then the lamb’s wood duster and rubber sponge, and hope for the best — or invest in curtains!

  13. John says:

    I just called my local dry cleaner. The quote I got for cleaning fabric vertical blinds was $20-$30, depending on how many. A 6-foot sliding door with verticals would be around $20 for ALL the vanes. An 8 foot door would be about $30.00, again for ALL the vanes. Prices were only a “quote.” The dry cleaner advised me to bring in one vane & a count off how many vanes are involved & he would give me an EXACT price. Not sure who’s charging $4.00 per vane, but I’d run far & fast away & never use that cleaner again. Maybe you’re in a high rent district & that’s the going rate.

  14. Lisa says:

    I used sugar soap and a pair of socks.

    Just put the socks on your hands. Dip them in the bucket and wring them out so not dripping wet.

    Hold the blind in between your hands and slide down… Works great. Only took me about two hours to do my whole house (8 windows and 1 big sliding door worth of verticals).

  15. Marge says:

    I have cloth stiff vertical blinds; very dirty. Where I live, it’s hard to find affordable and nearby cleaners. I’m going to give cleaning them at home a shot…I’ll keep you informed. All the tips are very helpful. Learned Dos and Don’ts. Thank you puoneers of vertical blind cleaning!

  16. June says:

    Do you rinse the sugar soap off or just dry with a towel or air dry?.

  17. Dorothy says:

    Can I just put about four at a time in the washing machine with a washing capsule? I don’t want them to shrink too small.

  18. Mike says:

    I had some outdated fabric verticals that weren’t worth spending a lot of time on, and I was changing the color of my room. I laid them flat on a long, protected table, and painted them with flat latex paint. First the backs, and let them dry hanging up, and then the fronts…now they can dry hanging regularly. Mine were flexible…they became stiff with the paint. And of course, less light passed through. The paint gave them new life. I don’t bend them around, but I suppose I could always apply another coat.

  19. Patty says:

    I just moved into my new home. I have a 9 ft. fabric honeycomb blind. When I lowered the blind, I saw a difference in color. Apparently it had not been moved or adjusted in a very long time; the upper part was very gray and dusty. I used a very good vacuum to remove the dust, but did not help to clean it up. How can I clean this blind?

  20. Wanda says:

    My white fabric verticals in my kitchen needed washing! I was not about to clean each one by hand, so I threw them in my front load washer on white wash (yes, hot water!) with Tide and Oxyclean. They came out beautifully clean, but wrinkled. I attempted to iron them; DO NOT DO THIS as the sizing (glue) comes off. I had almost lost hope, when I decided to iron them between a towel and IT WORKED! So, all is not lost. Thought I would share my experience.

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