Wooden blinds are more than just a way to stop the neighbours from seeing your bits when you’re getting changed or running between shower and bedroom; they’re an investment in both the visual aesthetic of your home, and an eco-friendly choice thanks to their sustainability and ability to thermally insulate a room.
This means that if you’ve chosen wooden blinds for a certain room, you probably picked them with care and spent a reasonable amount of cash on them; and as such, would be moderately annoyed with yourself if you inadvertently killed them with kindness by trying to clean them in a way that they don’t approve of.
This blog post will give reliable, tried-and-tested (we love a good dodgy experiment, we do) answers to five of the most frequently asked questions about how to clean wooden blinds, to give you the highest possible chance of cleaning them effectively and the lowest possible chance of it all ending in tears.
How not to clean wooden blinds
A reasonable amount of this blog post will cover not so much how to clean wooden blinds as how not to; some of which may not even have crossed your mind, but be sure they’ve crossed someone else’s, based on a random sampling of the content of my email inbox.
The main thing to note is that wooden blinds are a natural product (made of wood, innit), and this means that they need to be cared for in a certain manner. Some of the things that will work to clean other types of slatted blinds (like faux-wood and aluminium Venetians) aren’t going to work too well for their real wood cousins.
For instance, wooden blinds will absorb water if immersed or otherwise soaked in it; particularly basswood, which is what most wooden blinds for sale in the UK are crafted from. This will in turn result in your blinds warping, swelling, cracking, and doing all manner of other stuff that pleases exactly nobody.
Can you clean wooden blinds with a tumble dryer sheet?
If you’re into Mrs. Hinch, it will probably come as no surprise at all to learn that when it comes to cleaning blinds, Mrs Hinch tips are far more popular than ours; even though we in theory should have far more experience and so, plausibility in this specialist topic area! (See? If I was an influencer, everyone would listen to me!)
One of the hottest Mrs Hinch blinds cleaning tips is to use a tumble dryer sheet to wipe the slats, which in theory serves to both remove dirt and to leave an anti-static finish to keep it from running right back as soon as you’re done.
So, can you clean wooden blinds with a tumble dryer sheet like Mrs. Hinch says, or is this Bad Science? Yep, this is fine, as I tried out for myself and explained comprehensively on a previous slow news day in this post.
Can you clean grease off wooden blinds?
If you have wooden kitchen blinds, there’s a reasonable chance that they’ll develop a film of cooking fat or oil over time that will eventually need cleaning off. The closer your blind to your cooker/chip pan etc., the more likely and quickly this is to happen.
Grease can be cleaned off wooden blinds with a mixture of warm (not hot) water and a small amount of washing up liquid to break the grease down.
Dip a cloth into your solution, wring it out thoroughly, and wipe off each slat in turn, working from the centre out to each side. Replace the water as needed to ensure you’re actually evicting, rather than simply relocating, said grease.
This is the best approach to clean grease off natural wooden blinds.
Can you use vinegar to clean wooden blinds?
Vinegar is viewed in many households as the ultimate universal natural cleaning product, as well as of course being a mighty fine topping for your chips when you’re done.
But can you use vinegar to clean wooden blinds? There are a few parts to the answer to this one.
First of all you cannot or rather, should not use neat vinegar to clean wooden blinds. This will almost certainly stain or discolour them and potentially damage the lacquer, paint, or finish; and as a bonus side effect, the fact that it soaks into the wood too will cause your room to smell like catch of the day forever after.
In terms of whether or not you can use diluted vinegar to clean wooden window blinds, the answer is yes-ish; but this should not be your first approach.
Ideally, using just water alone on a damp cloth, or water and washing up liquid as outlined above is the safest way to clean wooden blinds.
However, if your blinds are very grimy or have developed a meaningful film of grease (which will often happen over time to wooden blinds in kitchens as mentioned above), then a solution of diluted vinegar in a ratio of one part vinegar to one part water may well work. Dip a cloth in this and wring it out thoroughly, and use it to wipe each slat off from the centre to each side in turn.
Try not to get the slats overly wet, and wipe or blot them off if needed afterwards to ensure that you leave them dry.
Can you clean wooden blinds in the bath?
That’s a hard no. Real wood blinds should not even be got overly wet with a cloth, and dunking them in the bath or otherwise immersing them in water is only the right thing to do if you want to buy new blinds, and even then maybe just buy them rather than being unduly mean to the old set first?
If you soak wooden blinds in the bath or otherwise dunk or immerse them in water they will begin to absorb it more or less immediately, which will cause their slats to warp, swell, and potentially split too.
Can you steam clean wooden blinds?
If you’re looking for the shortest/most direct answer here (which you probably are) then no, you shouldn’t try to steam clean wooden blinds.
However, in case you have a mate who did this and it was fine and you’re concerned now that everything else I ever told you about blinds was also a filthy, filthy lie, read on for the comprehensive answer.
Theoretically, there could potentially be a way to steam clean wooden blinds and have them live to tell the tale, but there are too many variables involved for this to be hugely likely as a result of anything more than a one-off lucky break in practice.
Steam cleaning involves two things that wooden blinds find truly intimidating; heat, and moisture.
Back to my theoretical steam cleaning scenario alluded to above, if the steam was only a shade warm and not overly err, steamy, and you held the cleaner at the exact right distance from the blind slats, and moved it quickly enough to avoid damage while also managing to shift the dirt, then you could possibly, maybe, steam clean a wooden blind safely.
If, on the other hand, you’re thinking “that’s a lot of ifs, ands, maybe’s, and theoreticals for comfort, not sure I really fancy my chances there” then I applaud your decision and we’re now on the same page.
Get any one of those various factors wrong (or maybe another one that I haven’t even thought of) and you once more run a high risk of ending up with warped, swollen, split, or discoloured slats.
A better approach than steam cleaning a wooden blind is once more simply using ye olde humble damp cloth, with a little washing up liquid in the water if you’re feeling very business-like about it.
Now, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do…