Dear TMH: The Quest to Find the Best Way to Clean Oven Vent Filters and Mini Blinds Continues

In this edition of Dear TMH I try two different reader-suggested cleaning tips. Want me to test out a recipe or a cleaning tactic you’ve heard about? I’ll do that, too. Just e-mail, or post a note in the comments.

Cleaning the vent filters above my stove is one of my least-favorite cleaning tasks. I first wrote about it here, testing two different liquid degreasers. Then a reader suggested washing the vents in the dishwasher. I tried that, too.

What I found in both instances was scrubbing was key to loosen the gunk from the filters. Still in search of an easier method that didn’t take as long (running the dishwasher for an hour, for instance) I was eager to try this tip, from Solp:

Here’s a good tip: take a large pot (that your filters will fit it) and simply add about half a cup of sodium bicarbonate in boiling water. Let the filters boil for about 5 minutes. Works great.

This had potential. I brought a large pot of water to a boil, added the baking soda (slowly, so it didn’t fizz all over the place) and dropped the filters in. Five minutes later I poured out the water.

What did I find? Much cleaner vents and a horrible grease ring around the rim of my pot.

Before, after.

Although my vents were fairly clean to begin with, a startling amount of grease melted off. This is by far the easiest cleaning method. Sure, it starts to smell like bad chicken soup when you boil the filters, but that’s a worthy trade-off for getting this whole project done in just a few minutes.

Since I wrote about cleaning mini blinds, I’ve gotten a number of tips about other cleaning methods, including dunking them in a tub and spraying them with water outside. My mini blinds are quite long and don’t fit in my tub, so that was out of the question. I was afraid I would just get more dirt on the blinds if I sprayed them outside, plus there was the task of drying them. I was more intrigued by this reader, who suggested:

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).

Before (top), after

It took me 19:21 minutes to clean my blinds thoroughly with a Swiffer Duster – could a vacuum do the job faster? I wanted to remove the blinds so I could hold onto them easier, and I was afraid that would slow me down. The vacuum is just so much faster that I shouldn’t have worried. Cleaning one six-foot-long blind only took 9:35 minutes. Better still, the brush is a perfect soft scrubber to remove stuck-on dust and dirt.

Even though it sounds like more trouble, from now on I’m going to take down my mini blinds and vacuum them. I’ll actually have them clean in half the time.

  • Scott Lyman

    This worked wonderfully for me, but the filter came out tarnished-looking afterwards. I used a nonstick pot (the only thing I had that was big enough)–any ideas?

  • Jennie Fiumefreddo

    thanks! I got your website from One Good Thing and I have now become a new fan 😉

  • Jennie Fiumefreddo

    thanks! I got your website from One Good Thing and I have now become a new fan 😉

  • Courtney Knabe

    I just found you on One Good Thing, I had to come check your post on the filter because I was wanting to see if I could learn anything else new and I did, 2 things to be exact!

    1. It only takes about 5 minutes for the filter, awesome.
    2. The whole vaccum idea for the blinds, can’t wait to try that!

    New Fan for sure.

  • jmcd2002

    Very hot water, approx. 4 tbsp. dish soap and 1/4 cup fantastik or Formula 409. Fill sink 1/4 full, add cleansers, stir. Let filters sit for about 15 minutes.  Gently scrub any waxy/yellowy areas and rinse.  Filters will look new and is way better than using ammonia. Much less odor/fumes, but I still recommend ventilating.

  • Berkeleypsych

    Baking Soda is an alkaline base and it corrodes aluminum.  It turned my filters black.  I can’t believe I tried this knowing baking soda and aluminum don’t mix.  Use an acid to keep the filters silvery, like vinegar.  I do like the boiling idea.  That’s a keeper.

  • loves2teach


    Have you tried dusting them with an old sock on your hand?  That works fairly quickly for me…

  • Terri

    O.K. This is going to sound odd but I promise it worked better than anything else I have tried. I have wooden blinds in every window of the house. Cleaning them was driving me crazy. I would clean one area and the dust would land somewhere else. Obviously, washing them is out of the question. I brought the leaf blower into the house and used it. It is fabulous. I also found that using the leaf blower to clean the interior of the car is amazing!

    • toria

      Have you been watching the Red Green Show?

  • Jaks__spot

    good tips

  • Sami

    For the mini blinds , I mix up
    Homemade 409 Recipe (from the frugal girls)

    2 Tbsp. Distilled White Vinegar1 Tsp. Borax1/8 cup Dawn Dish soap1 cup Hot WaterTriggered Spray Bottle {16 oz.}Optional: Your Favorite Scent of Essential Oil

    Pour vinegar, borax and hot water into spray bottle.Then continue filling spray bottle with cool water.Add Dawn Dish soap last. {no need to shake}Then spray a few folded up paper towels pretty heavily and wipe the blinds down, while they are hanging. I press them gently up against the window not so hard as to break them of course. I’ve tried all the methods you’ve mentioned along w/ buying tools exclusively to clean them, nothing works as good as this! Must be the combo of dish soap, vinegar, borax & pressure!!! Dependaning on how dusty they are, you might want to try to give them a little dusting first if they are really bad before the actual spraying happens for other readers!

  • Littledragonsam

    does the water have to be kept at boiling temp? thanks for the good tip about cleaning the screen!

  • Char Redloske-Girardi

    I make quick work of cleaning my mini blinds. I put 4 nails in the back side of the garage, around fascia height, but making sure it’s in the wall of the garage since that will keep them from swinging. I then hang my blinds on those nails and spray them down with whatever spray cleaner I have (first one side then tilt the in the other direction) and spray again. I then spray them with the power sprayer, which will get even the toughest dirt off not only the blinds but the little cords. Then let them dry in the breeze outside while I tackle other things inside.

  • A. Tommit

    I am amazed at how clean the filters got. I have a question on how to clean the fan in hood. The area can get very greasy also. I am unsure how to remove it to clean or whethr or not its possible to remove for this purpose.

  • Kristen

    My vent didn’t fit in the pot. I should have checked before I boiled the water and added the baking soda. Oops. Well, I just used a soup ladle to pour the boiling water over the vent. It still worked really well and my vent was very, very dirty.

  • Lynne

    Hi, I am another visitor from Jillee :-) I like your site and am going to subscribe to follow you too :-)

    My mother always took the blinds outside and hung them up on the washing line and then blasted them both sides with the garden hose. Then she scrubbed them with a soft-bristled kitchen broom, rinsed them off with the hose again, and then left them hanging outside to dry for an hour or so. It was no mess, no fuss, and she could easily get at both sides of the blinds to make sure she did a thorough job.

  • Loren

    This is great! Do you have any tips for cleaning the little pans that sit below stove burners? My partner frequently runs things over while cooking and by the time I get around to them it is thoroughly baked on. Even the dishwasher/soaking/easy-off did relatively little to put a dent in it.

  • kristyn read

    This is my “before” and “after” with these steps. My pot which was wide enough, wasn’t tall enough, so I did half, and flipped (hence the ends are cleaner than middle) but I poured water/baking soda over the middle parts. It was amazing!!

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