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How to clean the shutters quickly without creating mucus or dust clouds


Good news. You do not need most of this to clean the windows.

Angela Lang / CNET

Cleaning my shutters is one of the boring chores that I sometimes feel compelled to do, disgusted laces all the time. I've always worked my way through the task with a roll of dry paper towels in one hand and a wet wet in the other. It turns out I have been cleaning blinds wrong all these years.

After reading some great tips from half a dozen websites, I sat down to put them to work and added some of my own customizations along the way because I just can't help myself.

All told, the whole process of cleaning a set of blinds (horizontal) blinds on a bedroom window of moderate size did not take more than 15 minutes, and I am happy enough with the result to ignore the blinds for the rest of ours. Your mileage may vary, depending on your level of tolerance to dust and how much that naturally sits on your windows to begin with.

Remember that if you also plan to vacuum the room, do blinds and other dust first, and save hoovering last. Here's what I did.

Pick up all your junk first

Obviously this can be, don't skip this step. Dust and dirt will rain down on clothing, paper or other objects on the floor under the window, even a nice layer. Put your stuff on the desk or bed, or better yet put it all away.

If the blinds are really dirty, consider covering your face

The layer of raw on my blinds was light enough this time that I wasn't too worried about inhaling too many particles. You can help protect your lungs by striking a face mask (a moving subject in these times) or by wrapping your nose and mouth in a scarf – you can always throw it in the laundry when you are clear.

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For scary clean blinds, put down Windex.

bone-bryant / iStock

Clean dry, not wet

My biggest mistake has been trying to clean my plastic curtains on wet, then follow up with dry paper towels. This creates a muddy mess that smears around dirt. Moist paper towels pick up much of the scum and seem to help dissolve some of the dust in hard-to-reach corners. But when they were first cleaned dry, the work went faster and more efficiently.

Here's an exception: if your window blinds are very dirty, you may need an opposite plan of action than the one I outlined below, such as combinations of dish soap, vinegar and water solutions, or even take your blinds off the window and wash them in the bathtub. Wooden curtains may also need a more specialized treatment.

Secret weapon: Take out the vacuum cleaner

Yes, you can use a duster or microfiber cloth (more below), but the breakthrough method for me has used the small duster bracket (the one with the brushes) on my vacuum cleaner. It does fast work with a task that would normally take me at least three times longer when I do it by hand.

Vacuum of all sizes can have such fasteners that are pinched or spread on a rod or hose. Here are some of CNET's favorite cordless vacuum cleaners and robotic vacuum cleaners .

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Clean in one zigzag pattern, one section at a time

The general recommendation is to angle the blinds so that you start with the concave part first (the side that usually gathers more dust) and move from top to bottom so that dust will fall down, and you can wrap it up as you go.

This makes sense, but to reduce pacing back and forth as I take things row by row, I worked my way down vertical section by section, divided by these support strings with the length of most blinds.

Select a page, top right or top left. Start with one vertical section at a time, vacuum the upper lamina in one direction, say from left to right. When you reach the end of the slat, pull the vacuum down to the slat below so that you start on the right side of the slat and work your way to the left. When you are done with the second lamella, drop the vacuum dust head down to the third and pick it up on the left side. When you have completed one section, start over from the beginning of the next one.

In the end, you follow a zigzag pattern that allows the work to move quickly, from section to section.

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Now do the other side

When you are done with one side, turn the bar to tilt the blinds in the other direction and do it again. The dust was lighter on this side, so I ended up violating the "rules" and vacuuming every section from top to bottom and working my way into long sweeps. (But you get cosmic brownie points for doing it the "right" way.)

Microfibre, socks and dusters also work.

If you do not have a vacuum cleaner or a dust bracket, or just prefer to use something else, microfiber cloth seems to be the most widely accepted method. You can also use a fluffy duster on a magic wand or a specialized tool, such as a mini microfiber blinds duster that has finger-like attachments to really get in there.

I saw some DIY suggestions for creating your own blinds with rubber band sponges or microfiber cloths to the inside of a pair of kitchen bars (one on each side), clamping it over a blind and pushing it along to collect dust. Good! You can even put your hand in a sock, but it seems to be more manual work than I like.

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Here is a smart and unconventional way to clean blinds.

Angela Lang / CNET

Get out the rest of the dirt

When I inspected the blinds in the light, I was satisfied enough with my efforts, but the dirt in and in the windowsill gnawed at me. I used the vacuum dust bracket to suck in as many particles as possible. Then I went for the dry paper towel because old habits die hard and I don't feel like sacrificing a microfiber cloth, then I used the damp paper towel to get into the corners and solve more dirt. Not a perfect technique, but I got enough to go on with my day.

Vacuum the floor and then clean the brushes

The last few steps are about using your standing, shop or hand-held vacuum to pick up dust particles that hang on the floor, especially if you have the carpet. You can either shake or wipe the brush in the dust bracket over the garbage to clean them or toss the whole bracket in the sink with some liquid hand-washing soap, as I did, to soak up a little before rinsing and air drying.

Reward yourself

Remove a load. You deserve it. I celebrated writing this article while lying on the couch.

For more tips on household cleaning, learn the easy way to clean the shower head, keep mold from growing in your washing machine, and disinfect your toothbrush from sticky fecal particles (rough).

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