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Three Easy Ways to Clean Vinyl Mini Blinds

Updated on October 7, 2014
ecogranny profile image

An environmental enthusiast and activist her entire adult life, Kathryn shares her secrets to reducing waste and living greener.

How to clean mini blinds two easy ways plus one more for the tough grime

It's always such a pleasure when the light filters through clean blinds, don't you agree?
It's always such a pleasure when the light filters through clean blinds, don't you agree? | Source

Got a favorite household chore? - Or One you dread the most?

What housecleaning chore do you dread most?

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First, let me admit up front I'm a lazy housekeeper. Mini blinds? I'd rather clean the toilet than wrestle with those pesky slats, and let's face it: there is NO super-easy way to clean mini blinds. The three methods on this page are the easiest I've discovered, after years of experimenting with different methods and tools.

The good news is, all three methods work well, and with the least amount of effort I've found so far. I'd still rather clean the toilet.

When I close the blinds at night, after all the buses, trucks and cars on our busy street have spewed their grime and grease, I don't want waves of black crud staring back at me.

Don't you just hate how mini-blinds feel if you have to fiddle with them when they're dirty? I surely do.

After living ten years in the city with four--count 'em--four big bay windows clad in mini-blinds--that's three sets per window, or 12 separate sets catching all that outside dirt, I've hunted down--and invented--a few tricks for keeping my only window coverings clean with a lot less effort than it took in the beginning.

If you hate cleaning your blinds as much as I do, you may find the three methods on this page helpful, as well as time-saving.

Routine maintenance is the key to minimizing the drudgery. If you fall behind on the routine maintenance, though, there is a fairly easy solution coming up for getting those blinds spiffy.

Routine Maintenance Method #1: Use a good portable vacuum weekly to keep the grime and dust at bay

Make good contact with the brush end of the hose
Make good contact with the brush end of the hose | Source

Easiest method of them all, if done routinely

Make sure you have good contact with the brush end of the hose.

Close the blinds with the slats down and vacuum the entire side, then close again with the slats up and vacuum the other side. This method works best if done regularly with a powerful, hand-held vacuum.

This Black and Decker model has enough suction to remove the blind-coating, greasy, black soot that blows from the diesel trucks and buses plying our street 24-hours a day.

Since I got it, keeping the blinds and window sills clean is a whole lot easier. It also does a good job cleaning moldings, chair rails and upholstery, as well as picking up dry spills like the grandbaby's cracker crumbs.

Black+Decker BDH2000FL 20-Volt Max Lithium Ion Flex Vacuum
Black+Decker BDH2000FL 20-Volt Max Lithium Ion Flex Vacuum

I chose this cordless vacuum because of the reviews, because it was relatively light weight, and because of its longer reach. It's a good decision.

 

Foam ear plugs save the hearing

This handsome little vacuum dude is a screecher, so I bought a pack of earplugs. With some hearing impairment in one ear that requires me to wear a hearing aid, I want to protect my good ear and prevent further hearing loss in the other.

Watch how easy it is to use this cordless vacuum cleaner

Routine Maintenance Method #2 : The old sock method

Using an old sock, rub a blind between your thumb and forefinger
Using an old sock, rub a blind between your thumb and forefinger | Source

Cover your hand with an old sock. Dip it in white vinegar and rub each slat with the dampened sock between your thumb and index finger. To prevent water spots, follow immediately with a dry sock. It's fairly easy to get the hang of it with a sock on each hand.

When cleaning with the sock method, in addition to a pair of old socks, you will need the following tools and supplies.

A sturdy stepstool

Prevent accidents! Always use a sturdy step stool like this one when cleaning blinds and windows. Never trust chairs or flimsy stools to keep you safe.

2 Small Pails or Wash Pans

Two small containers or buckets come in handy, one for water, one for the vinegar. Periodically rinse your wet sock in plain water before refreshing the vinegar. That way, you do not carry dirt from one slat to the next

White vinegar

White vinegar is the number one cleaning agent for people who want or need to avoid harsh chemicals while maintaining a sparkling clean home.

Make sure your vinegar is vegetable or grain-based and not derived from petroleum distillates

Tip

To avoid transferring dirt from dirty blinds to clean ones, work from left to right if you are right handed, or from right to left, if you are left handed.

If your blinds are super grimy and you cannot or do not want to use the bathtub method coming up, try a combination of the vacuum method and the sock method with this more intensive cleaning solution by Kaye Wagner on eHow.

Method #3: The tub method, less often, more intense

Our mini blinds soaking in the tub
Our mini blinds soaking in the tub | Source

Easiest way to get long-term grime off your blinds

Soak blinds in tub for about 15 minutes, using a dilute solution of vinegar, baking soda and a smidgen of dish soap.

When I was working 60-80 hours a week, I did not have energy or time to clean my blinds regularly. Once or twice a year, I would take them down, one at a time, and clean them in the tub using a dilute solution of ammonia and water. This toxic, unfriendly method was quick and otherwise easy, but the fumes were dangerous for me and my family.

Eventually, I found a much safer method, using vinegar, baking soda and a smidgen of dish soap. Blogger Kelly of The Complete Guide to (Imperfect) Homemaking describes it best here.

While a dilute ammonia solution rinses off with little effort, you will want to rinse the vinegar and soap solution a few more times to remove all soap film (the vinegar helps with that). If you don't rinse well, residue soap film will attract more dust to the blinds.

Drain the water from the tub and let the blinds sit another fifteen minutes or so, while gravity carries away more water. This is a good time to clean the window, sash and sills so everything is sparkling when you hang the blinds.

CAUTION!

Never, ever, ever mix bleach or products containing bleach, with vinegar or with ammonia. When combined, these products release a deadly gas.

That's it, we're done! Enjoy the view

Clean blinds make for a sweeter view
Clean blinds make for a sweeter view | Source

How do you prefer to clean your blinds? Do you have another way you clean them? Please share in the comments below, and thank you for visiting this page.

© 2013 Kathryn Grace

Which, in your opinion, is easier? Vacuuming regularly, washing with socks and vinegar, or the bathtub method?

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    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @Sylvestermouse: It's great stuff, isn't it? You almost don't need another cleaner for any purpose if you have vinegar and baking soda on hand.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @favored: Thanks for the chuckle! I admit, that would be my option of last resort, when the blinds are irreparably broken or so badly stained that no amount of effort will get them clean.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 3 years ago from United States

      I don't have mini blinds anymore, but I do remember them being a bit of a pain to keep clean. I loved the socks and vinegar suggestion! That sounds like it would be fast and easy. I use vinegar on just about everything in the house,

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      I didn't see you use my quick method - get new ones :) The tub method does work though and you can do other things while they soak.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @Sundaycoffee: If they are in otherwise good shape and you'd like to spend the money on something else, give the bathtub method a try. You might be surprised how clean and sparkling they will be. It even gets the street grime out of the cording.

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      Sundaycoffee 3 years ago

      For our blinds, only the bathtub method would work. But I'm planning to buy new ones anyway. :)

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @marley101 lm: You're welcome!

    • marley101 lm profile image

      marley101 lm 3 years ago

      Great Tips :D

      Thanks for share this!

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @WeeCatCreations1: You're welcome. Yes, sometimes we have to take them down and give them a bath.

    • WeeCatCreations1 profile image

      Susan Caplan McCarthy 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you for the tips. After a while, vacuuming and dusting don't do the job ... good to know what the next step is.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @rainykua: Cleaning a bit at a time is definitely the way to go. I like to clean one section a day. That's usually enough, if I do it 3-4 days a week, to keep them all touchable.

    • rainykua profile image

      rainykua 3 years ago

      Wow, your mini blinds are sparkling clean! Mine used to be very dirty. I started cleaning it this year a few times a week (just a small section each session), and it feels so much better! I also hate the feeling of touching dirty blinds!

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @esmonaco: When you do, if you have time, do let me know how they worked for you, or whether you found an even better method.

    • TerriCarr profile image

      TerriCarr 3 years ago

      I think vacuuming looks the easiest. I don't know why I haven't tried it. Even better would be to have no blinds at all ;-) My mom used to use the bathtub/vinegar method.....it would stink for a while, but I guess it worked.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Thanks for the tips, we always wnd up with the bathtub method, I'll have to try your in between ideas :)

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @TerriCarr: Vinegar would certainly be a lot less toxic than my ammonia and water method. I will give that a try next time I have to take a blind down. Thank you.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @smine27: You gave me a chuckle, smine. Thanks for the visit.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I never clean my blinds. Embarrassed but true. my mother does it though on her yearly visits. I think the sick method might work for me though.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @cdotthought: Yes, I agree. Get it often and quick and you'll never have to risk life and limb climbing on stools to take them down, wash them and re-hang them.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @Lorelei Cohen: My daughters and I are convinced there is a bathroom cleaning gene, and you either have it or you don't. We have it. None of our spouses do. : )

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @Brite-Ideas: Do you use ammonia in the tub water as I mentioned above, or detergent? Or does plain water do the job okay? We have so much bus diesel grease floating through our window screens every day that plain water doesn't cut it.

    • cdotthought profile image

      cdotthought 3 years ago

      vacuuming always!

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      We largely have curtains in our home but even they can be a chore to get down to wash. My least favorite household chore though has got to be the bathrooms. Eeeek but I know exactly how many germs are living in those little rooms (we actually have 2 in our house: a his and a hers so all the jollier to clean). My little pet peeve.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @Ruthi: I know what you mean. Many's the time I've chosen my "real work" over cleaning the house, but sometimes housework is so therapeutic, and it gives my bumm a break!

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      Mini blinds are the worst to keep clean! I live in a rental and one by one am eliminating the yellowed blinds that look as though they've been hanging here for decades. However, there was a time in my younger years when I wasmother and wife that I was MRs. Happy Homemaker with everything squeaky clean, Now... I hate housework and do just enough to get by with that lived-in look. Besides, I'm too busy on Squidoo to cook and clean!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I have this problem! my entire house has these darned things! I give up sometimes and fill the tub and put the whole darn blind in sometimes, let them soak, drip them off, give them a wipe, and back up they go!

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @paperfacets: When we lived in a locale with extreme weather on both ends, we too had fold-up cell blinds. They are wonderfully insulating against both the cold and the heat, and I'm sure they are a good choice in SoCal with all that glaring, hot sun. A quick vacuum now and then kept them clean, back then, in windows over a park-like lawn and garden, but I can't help wondering what the diesel grease and black tar street dirt we contend with would do to them here in SF! Oy.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 3 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Through the years I changed out the minis for the tiny fold up cell blinds. The reason why is the mini blind cleaning chore! With the hot sun in SoCal I just lower them if I need blocking.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @MarcellaCarlton: I am so sorry to hear of your illness, and equally glad you are all on the mend. I know too well what it's like to clean up after a week of flu in the house. Take real good care of yourself, and thank you for sharing your favorite way to clean the blinds. I wish I still had an outdoor line.

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      MarcellaCarlton 3 years ago

      I like the bathtub method. I know it is messy, but I hang them outside and dry them there. I feel so good when they are clean. The toilet is another matter, we just finished up with a bout of the flu. So a job I didn't mind was a real chore. I really love to clean my home and keep it that way. You have written a much needed lens here. Thank you.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @DawnRae64: You're welcome, and thank you for voting and explaining your vote. So many more fun things to do than chores!

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I voted "other". I HATE all household chores. I hate clutter and mess...but I hate chores. Period. The only thing i like to do is vacuum the carpets.

      Great tips here! I hate cleaning mini blinds. I used to do the bathtub method when i couldn't stand it. I love the sock and the vinegar tip. I never thought about vinegar for the blinds! thank you for sharing.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @Allain Christmas: Well, let me know if you try the bathtub method and how it works for you.

    • Allain Christmas profile image

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Mine are horrible and really need some TLC.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @SusanDeppner: Oh so funny, Susan. Just moments ago, as I rocked the grandbaby to sleep--you know how your mind catches on everything in sight at those times--I noticed dust on the living room blinds and decided I'd better make some time for them before the street soot piles up and I have to take them down and wash them. Guess we'll be doing the same thing with part of our weekend time, eh?

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Cleaning blinds is on my to-do list for this weekend. Ours are "faux wood" and I'm hoping a good, thorough dusting will do the trick. I appreciate your suggestions - just in case!

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @CherylsArt: Oooh, that's the best kind!

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      The last pair of mini blinds that I purchased, came between the two panels of glass in my kitchen door. No cleaning, except for the glass panels.. Yay!

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @Susan Zutautas: It is definitely the least labor intensive. I think if I were younger, taller and stronger, I would find the bathtub method easiest as well. Thank you for reminding me! Thank you, too, for being my first visitor. Much appreciated!

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I've tried all of these methods too and I find the bathtub is the easiest.