How To Clean Your Mini Blinds

The key to cleaning mini-blinds is not backbreaking scrubbing or scouring, but rather, letting chemicals do the hard work so we don't have to.

Mini-blinds are a sign of our times. Nearly gone are the days of heavy curtains and Venetian blinds. Today we prefer a lighter, airier, more contemporary apparatus that provides us with a modern convenience while satisfying almost any decorative taste - from Victorian to avant-garde. Mini-blinds come in a variety of colors, they allow adjustment for total, partial or zero light with just a flick of the wrist, and they can be found in a wide range of types and prices: from discount stores to custom-made.

The only potential problem with mini-blinds is keeping them clean and looking new. Most of us avoid this seemingly unpleasant chore for as long as possible, secretly wishing it would take care of itself. But there ultimately comes a time when they begin to take on a new color and personality, and we know the inevitable has arrived: it is time to clean the dreaded, formerly beautiful mini-blinds.

Surprisingly, the task isn't nearly as daunting as one might assume. The key is not backbreaking scrubbing or scouring, but rather, letting chemicals do the hard work so we don't have to. There are two tried and true methods that work well, depending on the time of year, the weather, and available space outdoors.

For summer cleaning, if the skies are blue, the sun is shining, and a clothesline is readily accessible, the only necessary supplies are a water hose, a liquid fertilizer attachment (like a miracle-gro or other fertilizer attachment), ammonia, a sponge and a bucket. Before taking the blinds off the window, it helps to vacuum them first, to rid them of hair, excess dust or insect carcasses. Next, take them outside and hose them down, hard, on both sides. At this point, there is one of two options. If a hose attachment is available, fill the attachment with half-ammonia and half water. Lie the blinds on a porch or hang them on the clothesline, and use the ammonia solution to spray the blinds some more. If no attachment is available, mix a solution of ammonia and water in the bucket and then wipe it generously on the blinds with the sponge. Let the ammonia/water solution sit on the blinds for several minutes and then hose them down with fresh water. If this doesn't clean them thoroughly, it may be necessary to wipe them down while the ammonia/water solution is still on the blinds. Just use a soft sponge; scrubbing shouldn't be necessary. After they have been cleaned and rinsed, hang the blinds on the clothes line to dry in the sunshine and then put them back over your window when they are completely dry.

For winter cleaning, or any time the weather isn't cooperative, the blinds will be cleaned in a bathtub. Supplies include dishwashing detergent (grease-cutting, antibacterial kinds are best), a sponge, and some towels. Again, begin by vacuuming the blinds first. Then take them down, and place them in the empty bathtub. Begin filling the bathtub with very hot water, and as it fills, add about ΒΌ cup dishwashing detergent, as if you were doing the dishes. Turn the water off as soon as the blinds are covered and then let them sit for 30 minutes or so. After they've soaked, lift them out of the soapy water and rinse them. At this point, you can drain the tub, or keep the water for the next set of blinds. They can be easily rinsed by turning on the shower, or it's even easier if a hand-held shower attachment is available, just so the person doing the cleaning doesn't get a bath too! Usually, the dirt and grime will rinse right off, but just like with a summer cleaning, if necessary, wipe the blinds off with a soft sponge or cloth while they're still in the soapy water. After rinsing, if an indoor clothes line or shower rod is available, the blinds can be hung to dry with towels lying under them to catch any excess water. If there is no place to hang them, simply lay them neatly on some towels on the floor. And remember, the blinds will dry more quickly if they are open.

If the dirty mini-blinds have been exceptionally neglected, for instance, if they've been hanging in a kitchen over a stove for several years and have excess grease build-up, an added step may be necessary. After vacuuming the blinds, lie them on a porch or on some towels, and then spray them (both sides) with a common kitchen cleaner like 409 or Fantastik. Spray them liberally and then let them sit for about 30 minutes. Then follow through with the aforementioned directions.

When the mini-blinds are sparkling clean and completely dry, one last helpful tip is to rub them down thoroughly with a dryer sheet to help prevent them from attracting dust and hair. Now the blinds can be rehung and enjoyed.

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