OK, first off, shades are usually made of fabric or a fabric-like product. They are manufactured as pleated, honeycomb or Silhouette-type coverings and are considered a ‘hard’ window covering. As opposed to soft window coverings, such as custom-made drapes and Roman shades — which I make. Blinds are coverings made of slats of wood, metal or plastic and these are also considered hard window coverings. For ease, in this article, I’ll just say ‘shades.’
Whether custom-made or purchased from a big-box store, shades can be expensive. Keeping them in optimal working order will increase their longevity and keeping them clean is the first step. Dust accumulation in the lift mechanisms will interfere with the smooth operation of the shades and dirty cords tangle more easily.
Please don’t assume that because the coverings are made of a fabric-like product they are washable. Water may stain the product and the cords could shrink if they contain cotton. So, spot clean with a damp cloth, no detergent or cleaner. Do not use pre-loaded cleaning sheets on any window covering; they contain products that can stain and damage the shades. One of the largest shade manufacturers states that use of these sheets will void their warranty. If your shade becomes heavily soiled have it professionally cleaned; please don’t try to wash it in the bathtub.
Vacuum your shades regularly, using a clean, soft brush attachment. Lower the shade and, starting at the top of the covering, vacuum in a cross-wise pattern. Moving the brush up and down the covering may damage the folds.
Between vacuumings, dust the coverings with a wool duster. Man-made dusters simply move the dust along the shade. Dust sticks to the wool and is moved off and away. Buy a wool duster with a removable head that you can take off and throw in the washing machine. Non-removable head dusters come with cleaning instructions, but the removable ones are the best.
Spray your covering with a spray static inhibitor. Lightly cover both sides. This will help prevent dust from sticking to the shade and make the vacuuming easier. This is the big-deal tip for those of you who hate all the dust that settles on your venetian blinds.