Cleaning wooden blinds in open position

Knowing how to clean wooden blinds and just as importantly how not to will help to keep your blinds looking smart and working without excessive swearing required to get them going for a great many years.

This blog post will tell you all sorts of useful stuff in this regard, including how to clean wooden blinds with tapes, and what is the best way to clean wooden blinds without taking them down, which is by far easier than trying to wrangle the whole array off the wall, trust me.

Short introductory primer aside then, here is my comprehensive guide on how to clean wooden blinds based on the type of blind you have, and the type of issue you’re dealing with.


1. What is the best way to clean wooden Venetian blinds without taking them down?

For the avoidance of doubt, if you have wooden blinds, these are a type of Venetian blinds. When we use the standalone term “Venetian blinds,” we’re usually referring to aluminium ones; but wooden slatted blinds are part of the Venetians family too.

So, what is the fastest way to clean wooden blinds? The easiest, fastest, and best way to clean wooden blinds and keep them dust free is by giving them a quick flick over with a feather duster or soft, clean, anti-static cloth as part of your regular cleaning routine; unless this means once a year for you, in which case maybe step it up a bit.

2. Is there any benefit to taking wooden blinds down to clean them?

Not really, unless you need to get into the blind’s headrail and access the lift and tilt mechanisms themselves, which is uncommon. This would generally only happen if the blind has jammed somehow, or if it has been in situ without being cleaned for so long (normally this would take several years) in a mucky-ish environment that the mechanisms have become gummed up with grime and dirt.

Unless this is the case, there’s no benefit to taking a wooden blind down to clean it, as you cannot access any parts of it that you’d not be able to get to with it in place, and it won’t result in an any more thorough clean; and will in fact just make it somewhat harder to clean.

3. How do you keep wooden blinds dust-free?

cleaning wooden blinds in closed position
  • Begin with the slats of the blinds in the closed position and the blind fully lowered.
  • Wipe/dust the blind from top to bottom, working in the same direction as the alignment of the slats and using a downward motion. This will help to ensure you don’t catch the slats or push them in a direction that they aren’t intended to move in, which if you’re particularly heavy-handed, could potentially bend or even snap them.
  • Next, open the slats and rotate them all the way around, which will leave the blind closed once more but with the other side of the slats facing you.
  • This time, you want to wipe/dust the slats upwards, not downwards, in respect of the fact that they’re now lying the other way up.
  • If you want to dust a wooden blind a bit more comprehensively, you can also lower the blind fully and open the slats so that they’re horizontal, and use a duster or cloth to wipe each slat individually. This is best approached by starting from the middle of each slat and then working out to each side in turn, as opposed to going from side to side.

Ps., regularly dusting your wooden Venetian blinds helps to improve the air quality in your home too, and can reduce allergens in the air. If you tend to leave your blind in the same position for days or weeks at a time rather than opening/closing or adjusting it regularly, a Venetian blind can really get quite the fur coat on it, and you may not even notice this until you next have cause to want to adjust it.

4. How do you clean dirty wooden blinds that have more than dust going on with them?

Cleaning wooden blinds slat by slat

If your wooden blinds have gone a bit beyond simple dusting territory and are approaching the realms of significantly nasty, you need to take a slightly different approach. This may be the case if your blinds have got grime or gunk on them rather than just loose surface dust.

Here’s how to clean dirty wooden blinds (without taking them down)

If your blind is generally clean but just has a couple of localised spots or dirty areas, spot cleaning them with a damp cloth is the best approach. Proceed with caution and don’t use any more force than necessary, or that grubby mark might end up looking quite appealing in comparison to the crooked or broken slat you’re left with in its place! Support the back of the slat you’re working on with your other hand as you go too.

  • Begin by using a dry duster or soft cloth to remove any surface dust, as outlined above.
  • Then, use a soft, damp cloth to remove dirt from the slats, but wring this out thoroughly so it isn’t dripping wet and doesn’t leave standing water on the slats themselves.

If you do need to clean the whole blind rather than just tacking odd individual spots or marks, follow the procedure outlined above on how to clean wooden blinds with a duster, only with a damp cloth:

  • Lower the blind and close the slats, and wipe them with your damp cloth from top to bottom.
  • Open the slats and rotate them fully in the other direction into the closed position, and wipe them once more, but from bottom to top this time.
  • Clean each individual slat by opening them to their horizontal alignment, and wiping from the centre of each slat to each respective side in turn.
  • Rinse out (and wring out) your cloth regularly to ensure you’re not just moving the dirt around as opposed to removing it!

Oh, and finally, important!! As mentioned, do your very bestest not to soak the blind in general, but pay particular attention to not getting the very ends of the slats wet; these will often be plain wood with no varnish/veneer/paint on them, and so the keenest part of the blind to suck up water and suffer for their choices.

If you do find when you have finished cleaning your wooden blind that you didn’t listen to me when I said “damp not wet” there is excess water or moisture visible on the slats, dry this off gently with a clean, dry cloth or some kitchen roll.

It’s also a good idea to leave the window behind your blind open for a couple of hours to let it get some air and ensure it dries fully.

5. How to clean wooden blinds with tapes

Cleaning wooden blinds with tapes

Some wooden blinds have decorative ladder tapes, and while cleaning wooden blinds with ladder tapes is no different to cleaning those without them as far as the slats are concerned, cleaning the fabric ladder tapes becomes necessary too as they’re really, really keen to attract grease and grime.

You may be able to avoid needing to do anything more onerous than dusting your blind if you dust the ladder tapes too when you do the slats; but if you’ve been a bit neglectful in this respect or your duster just isn’t cutting the mustard (or whatever else inexplicably ended up there) then you may need to give them a bit more attention.

As is the case with wooden blind slats, if the ladder tapes are only grubby in one or two small or localised areas, spot cleaning these bits alone is probably the best approach. In terms of what this approach itself entails, you have a few different choices here, which I’ll outline next.

Three different takes on how to clean wooden blinds with tapes that have small or localised marks on them:

  • Option 1: Use a soft, moist (once more, definitely not wet!) cloth, and plain old water alone. This is the wisest route to try first, before considering getting out the big guns.
  • Option 2: When I said big guns, I may have been overstating that somewhat; I just meant adding a very mild, diluted solution of a clothes wash detergent for delicate fabrics to the water for your cloth if water alone fails you.
  • Option 3: A bit of an innovative (if it works) or MacGyver (if it doesn’t) take on cleaning wooden blind tapes is to use a white pencil rubber (yep, a plain white eraser) on them, and literally just use this to lightly rub the spot or mark in question, as it will often come clean off.

Whichever take on cleaning wooden blind tapes you go for – damp cloth, damp cloth with detergent, pencil eraser (always a white one, cannot overstate the importance of this), do spot-test your approach on a discreet area of the tape first to make sure it’s not going to discolour it.

How to clean wooden blinds with tapes that need more than just spot cleaning:

If you need to clean the entire length of the tapes and spot cleaning isn’t going to be enough, you’ll need a non-staining fabric or upholstery cleaning wipe, or a damp cloth. You’ll also need a clean, dry cloth for when you’re done.

  • Lower the blind and open the slats horizontally.
  • Support the back of the ladder tape with one hand to avoid pulling the blind about.
  • With your wipe or clean, lightly damp cloth, either blot the tape clean or wipe it gently in one direction.
  • Use your clean, dry cloth to blot any residual moisture from the tapes when you’re done.
  • Leave the blind lowered and the slats open to expose as much of the tapes as possible to the air, and if possible, open the window and leave it for a couple of hours to dry thoroughly.

6. How to clean white wooden blinds that have yellowed

Yellowed wood blinds

There are few things more manky-looking than something that was once white but is now yellow; other, perhaps, than something that was once white that is now grey.

So, can you restore wooden blinds that have turned yellow? This sort of depends on the cause of the yellowing, and there are three main culprits in this respect:

  • Nicotine staining due to cigarette smoke.
  • A build-up of cooking grease and accumulation of oils or fat (usually only an issue for wooden blinds in kitchens).
  • Long-term UV damage from sun exposure.

Yellowed wooden blinds that got their unhealthy tinge due to nicotine staining or the accumulation of grease and grime can generally be returned to their original pristine white selves quite effectively.

Yellowed wooden blinds that have discoloured due to long-term exposure to UV light unfortunately cannot be saved, however, as the painted wood itself is affected, rather than simply having a film over its surface.

It’s worth noting that by no means all wooden blinds will yellow from sun exposure over time; modern wooden blinds are crafted to prevent this to a large degree, with specialist UV protection built into their surface coating paint, lacquer, or other treatment on their slats.

Older wooden blinds may pre-date this type of treatment, and while the yellowing doesn’t affect the blind’s functionality at all, it might herald the need for a new set simply on the basis of aesthetics if the colour offends you every time you walk in the room.

Or, repaint the whole room yellow and make it look like a deliberate style choice, maybe? Up to you.

What is the best way to clean wooden Venetian blinds to remove yellow discolouration?

If your blinds are yellowing due to surface grime or the effects of a 20-a-day Rothmans habit, you can remove yellow staining from wooden blinds by following the directions above on how to clean dirty wooden blinds with a damp cloth.

That’s it!

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