I get this question a LOT, and quite often. Many people want to keep their window coverings looking as good as the day they were installed.
If you are not sure about how to care for your window covering, don’t jump in and clean them with just anything. Get the facts first. To make it a little simpler, I will lay out some different cleaning options.
Dusting – This time tested method is a good way to clean most of your window covering products. There are a couple of things to be aware of though. First of all, if you are using a wand type duster, make sure that it is a dry dusting type. The ones that have lanolin, or furniture wax, or any other type of additive may leave residue on your coverings making them harder to clean in the future. Also, if you were to use this type of additive on a cloth shade or drapery, you are actually minutely staining your coverings, which over time can turn into a permanent stain as the sun reacts with the additive and discolors your products.
Secondly, if you have any type of pleated shadings, like a cellular shade or something similar, be careful that you don’t press too hard on the pleats as they can become misshaped, leaving a permanent crease.
A special note on dusting. Please remember to dust the back of your window coverings. Over my many years in the industry, I have noticed a trend in how people care for their window coverings. Often, they are fastidious in maintaining the front of their coverings, but lax in caring for the back. This is especially true in shadings. What happens, especially in localities that have a high UV index, is that any dust that sits on the back of the shades eventually bonds to the shade itself after reacting to the sun’s powerful rays, and creates an ugly dinge that is extremely hard to remove. If this dust is untreated, it can actually break down the chemicals in certain cellular shades, causing the cells to delaminate. Under certain circumstances, the manufacturers may refuse warranty claims on such a shade due to negligence.
Submersion – For certain types of window coverings, submersion is a viable option. I remember going to a seminar once where they took a bright white piece of shading material and squirted it with Ketchup. We all watched as the representative submerged the fabric, and wiped it off with soapy water and the fabric came out spotless. There are a couple of things that we can learn from this. First, if you get a stain like this, try to get it out immediately. If you let it sit, especially if the sun hits it, it will set up in the fabric. The next thing to keep in mind is that you verify that ALL of the shade can be submerged. For example, wood blinds, motors, any specialty lift system and many other types of window coverings, should never touch water at all. Verify with your original paperwork as to the proper care and cleaning of your product, and if you can’t find it, search the internet for the manufacturer’s website, where these instructions should be found.
Spot Cleaning – This is the type of cleaning that many people think to use after some sort of accident. These are probably due to splashing from a sink, or kitchen accidents. We are all probably picturing the two year old in their high-chair flailing their arms wildly with food flying off of their spoon onto the window coverings. Aughhhh! Never fear, spot cleaning is here. Your best bet: water. Next: soapy water. Next: spot cleaning solution (think Shout Wipes, Tide Pen or similar. Do follow the manufacturer’s instructions as some solutions can fade colors and cause other damage). Act quickly, and be gentle. Some materials are very delicate, and heavy scrubbing can erode the fabric quickly. Even the paint on wood blinds or shutters can wear through very quickly causing a bigger problem than the original stain.
Vacuuming – For many types of window coverings, namely shades and draperies, vacuuming is an excellent option for cleaning. Some of the materials that you will be cleaning are delicate, as mentioned before, and if you don’t take precautions, you run the risk of sucking the material into your vacuum hose, and ruining the material. Most manufacturers recommend using the brush attachment and running your cleaning pattern in the direction of the pleating. On horizontal shadings, this means moving your hand side to side, and on vertical shadings, this means moving your hand up and down. If you vacuum, just like dusting, don’t forget to do the back side of the product.
Ultrasonic and Dry Cleaning – These are excellent options for cleaning your window coverings. They are pretty easy to research on the internet, and I suggest that you consider these options when looking for a deep and thorough cleaning of your draperies, and window coverings. Keep in mind though, that these options have drawbacks too, and that you are best served having all of the facts before you jump in. I work with companies that offer both of these services, and would be happy to refer them to you if you have that need.
In the future, I will discuss how to clean specific products, for example the Hunter Douglas Silhouette Shades. This is a generic list of options for cleaning window covering products and not an exhaustive guide. For specific instructions on how to clean your window coverings, see the manufacturer’s instructions or contact a window coverings professional near you.