Tested: The Best Way to Clean Mini Blinds

Mini blinds are such a pain to clean, I’ve only done it once in the three years my wife and I have lived in our apartment. They are notorious dirt-catchers because they spend most of their life lying horizontally in front of a window. In Los Angeles, where there is a perpetual rain of microscopic dust floating down, a close-up inspection of white mini blinds can be pretty horrifying.

See, doesn’t that look awful? I’ve been meaning to clean my mini blinds for a while, but it’s actually a fairly involved project. If you want to do a thorough job, you have to carefully dust each individual slat. The slats are held up and separated by thin fabric cords, so dusting each slat actually means dusting four or five different sections.

I had seen specialized mini blind dusters in the past, and I wondered how well they worked. I decided to put a specialized duster up against the duster I usually use – A Swiffer Duster. To round out the test, I made my own mini blind duster. I cut a Swiffer Sweeper pad in half and tied each half to my trusty tongs.

My test was simple: I cleaned three sets of blinds, all the same size and approximate dust level. I timed how long each cleaning took to determine ease-of-use, and I evaluated the performance of each duster. How much dust could it trap? How much was it leaving behind?

Microfiber Window Blind Duster.

Time to clean mini blinds on a 3×6-foot window: 22:16

Performance review: The specialized mini blind cleaner did the worst in our test, both in terms of time and performance. While the three-pronged duster could theoretically two or three times as faster as the other dusters, it was more difficult to slide in between the individual slats. While the microfiber duster did pick up and trap some dust, it got full quickly and started showering clumps of dust down on the window sill. Cleaning the duster would have required running it through the wash, making this project take much longer.

Kitchen tongs with Swiffer Sweeper pad.

Time to clean blinds: 20:43

Performance review: I imagined it would be difficult to squeeze the tongs with just the right amount of pressure so the tongs wouldn’t get stuck in between the slats. It wasn’t that hard once I got going. I also imagined that I would be cleaning two slats at once. Instead, I used the tongs to grip each slat individually. It didn’t take longer because I was able to move between the slats efficiently. The Swiffer Sweeper pad did better than the microfiber cloth pad, but it still started shedding dust before I had finished with the blinds. Overall this improvised cleaning tool was an improvement over the blind cleaner, but it still wasn’t perfect.

Swiffer Duster.

Time to clean blinds: 19:21

Performance review: Although the swiffer duster was the bulkiest tool, I could still get it in between each slat if I lifted the slat above up a little, and clearly that didn’t slow me down, since the Duster had the fastest cleaning time. It also cleaned the most thoroughly, by far. The Swiffer Duster is really a dust-trapping machine. I happened to clean the dirtiest set of mini blinds with the duster, and it didn’t shed at all. The duster could also be shoved into corners and pick up dust the other tools couldn’t grab.

After cleaning each set of blinds, I had to give them a quick wipe down with the blinds closed to grab spare dust. There was only one tool I could use for the job – a Swiffer Duster. Overall it thoroughly trounced the other two competitors. I won’t be cleaning my blinds again (maybe in a year from now), but when I do, I’ll know the Swiffer Duster is the best tool for the job.

  • Laura

    Great article, but how about ideas for cleaning fans?  You know, the ones with  mesh wires?  I looked at mine this morning and it is both gross and extremely daunting to clean.

    • http://themanlyhousekeeper.com Mark Evitt

      I completely agree, cleaning fans is an awful task. I wrote some more about cleaning fans here - http://bit.ly/nXT0ie

      • Guest

        I do the bathtub dunk on the fan grills after disasembling

    • Debwoolsey

      We sleep with a box fan going 24/7. Needless to say, we clean a lot of fan “gunk” I put them in the tub, turn the handheld shower on as hot as it goes and wash away. I make sure it it totally dry before plugging back in. I’ve never had a fan fail, and the fan wears out before the rust gets any wires.

  • Charlotte Frye

    I notice that your slats are aluminum and I’m wondering if the Swiffer product would do equally well on wooden blinds?  (I dislike a total commitment to one product line (all the Swiffer products) and have used micro cleaning cloths on one slat at a time;  wish it could be easier!)  I’ll try my own experiment, I think.  Thanks, Mark!

    • http://themanlyhousekeeper.com Mark Evitt

      I know what you mean about making a commitment to just one product line. I would give the Swiffer Duster a try, though. I think it’s the best of all the Swiffer products. It can trap an incredible amount of dust (and dirt and sand …)

    • http://twitter.com/shiroduckie 白い小がも

      Unfortunately, I’ve tried the Swiffer duster on my wooden blinds (with a rougher, less finished side), and all I got was Swiffer fuzz (possibly permanently) stuck on the blinds, and no dust removal. :(

      • An Inquirer

        Have you ever tried a magnetic duster? I got tired of using my small paintbrush, and now just stick to my old-fashioned magna duster. What I wish I could find, is an easy way to clean my 24″ by 18″ bedside mat which I cut out of a rubberized indoor-outdoor carpet. The edges of the mat seem permanently etched with grey-dust. The non-edges are cleanable via my Bissell stick-vac, but not the edges. Would Shtickie work? I do not own a good vac-cleaner, rather just an ancient Kenmore with no bag. Years ago I used to see at Pathmark a long-stick with scrubber at end, intended for carpet spot cleaning. But I don’t see it on market anymore. I forgot the brand name.

  • Charlotte Frye

    I notice that your slats are aluminum and I’m wondering if the Swiffer product would do equally well on wooden blinds?  (I dislike a total commitment to one product line (all the Swiffer products) and have used micro cleaning cloths on one slat at a time;  wish it could be easier!)  I’ll try my own experiment, I think.  Thanks, Mark!

  • Jo

    You overlook the absolute easiest and fastest way to clean blinds…dunk them in the bathtub!  Discovering that changed my life.

    • Guest

      I’ve also taken them outside and hose them down. 

  • just an inquirer

    Did you ever try using a china bristle brush?

  • Anna

    Dear Many Housekeeper,
       Great article and website! I really appreciated the testing too since I like to rig devices to get jobs done, it saved me some time!

  • guest

    vacuum cleaner!  Turn the slats vertical and use the soft round brush. You have to hold the blind taut, but then you just run the hose along horizontally. It’s quick and it’s neat. Then tilt the blinds in the other direction and do the same thing (if they need it).

    • http://www.facebook.com/sloanephr Donna Sloane

      That’s the method I use. If I need to clean them, I follow up with a damp rag and wipe them down.

  • zensko

    To clean mini blinds you can use a vacuum with the brush attachment, this will only take a couple of minutes if you do it once a month because you will not get the buildup.  

  • Ccorbin66

    Thanks for the testing.  I have been wondering what the best way and thanks to you I don’t have to expiriment.

  • Denise

    Thank you for the help. I’m moving into a new house and the blinds are filthy. No judgement, I don’t like cleaning myself. I’m going to try the swifer and the vacuum options (two people can be cleaning blinds at the same time). Maybe having to clean them will motivate me to keep them clean! Looks like all my gadgets for the vacuum cleaner will finally come in handy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.zimmerman1962 Mary Zimmerman

    I just purchased a blind cleaning tool at TJMaxx for 4 bucks and what made it work better was getting the microfiber cloth wet! It would gather dust and I made a bucket of sudsy water with a mild dose of laundry detergent(barley any suds) When the duster was crusted with dust I would whip the cloth off and give it a dunk, a quick squeeze and carry on. I have 2″ bamboo blinds and my “furnace” is a wood stove and this took a winter’s worth of fine black soot off of my blinds. Thanks for the tip on the Swiffer duster too! I need, need, need one of those for my house! I really like your site too!

  • Patty

    This sounds like a much easier method than I’ve been using (about once a year). Following up with the vacuum attachment seems like a great way to prevent dust build-up.

  • LoveRiverRafting

    I just cleaned my blinds for the first time in years. I am so happy with them I wanted to share my method. It will not work for everyone since you need either a patio or driveway and hose.
    1. Extend the blinds. Close the slats to block the light. Take the blinds out of the window.
    2. Place the extended blinds on a clean spot on the driveway (or Patio) with the bottom of the slats showing. (and the top of the slats touching the driveway.)
    3. Spray blinds with water from a garden hose. I used a high pressure nozzle with low water flow, but probably anything will work.
    4. If there are any visible spots, rub them with cleaning solution and rinse again. There appears to be little dust or dirt on the bottom of the slats, so not much attention to the bottom is needed.
    5. Lift the blinds off the driveway and turn them over so the top side of the slats are now showing.
    6. Rub the slats with a cleaning solution. I used warm water with eco friendly dish detergent and a cellulose sponge. With the sponge, I cleaned 7 slats with each swipe, however I am sure a rag or microfiber cloth would work fine. It helps to have a knee pad to keep your knees from getting wet. Also helps to wear shoes or sandals that are water tolerant.
    7. Rinse the blinds with the hose.
    8. Lift the blinds, still extended and shake to remove most of the water.
    9. Hang the blinds in the window still fully extended, even if they hang below the window sill. Turn the slats so they are not touching each other and separate any slats that are ‘stuck together’.
    10. Dry the slats if you are concerned about water spots, otherwise just let them air dry.

    This really cleaned the blinds and was fast but wet.

  • Diana Dee

    Haven’t tried this yet, but I heard that if you clean your mini-blinds with a Bounce fabric softener sheet that it will REPEL dust! I’ll let you know when I do it. This would be the best thing since sliced bread (in my mumble opinion)

  • AngieC

    My husband started sharing housework duties when our baby was born, thank goodness! Noting the year’s worth of dust on the resin mini-blinds, he decided to take down the blinds and wash them in the bathtub. He was new to cleaning of any sort. Although I was grateful, my husband, an auto mechanic, had some interesting ideas about how to handle things. Not having taught him my method yet of cleaning the blinds while they hung, wiping one slat at a time, I was horrified when I walked by the bathroom and saw what he was up to, the whole blind submersed in hot soapy water! I was convinced that the water would get into the mechanism part and they would be ruined! He told me to relax and that he had this, no problem. That just made me more tense, having flashbacks of the old Tim Allen TV show Home Improvement. I was too overwhelmed with new baby care to object very much. He used dish liquid and a cleaning rag, had the whole blind washed and rehung in less than 10 minutes, and it was cleaner than I had ever gotten it before! They looked as though we had just bought them! Nine years later, we are still using the same blinds and same cleaning technique.

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