Over the last two days of the Spring Cleaning Challenge, you’ve spent a lot of time in your bedroom and you might have noticed the view is … less than clear. Let’s get those windows sparkling and the window treatments fresh.
Washing every window in your house is a chore-and-a-half (which is why many people happily farm out the task when able). Like every other element of our Spring Cleaning Challenge, we’re breaking down large tasks into manageable tasks. So, today we’re cleaning just the bedroom windows and not every window in your home—though you can easily transfer the tools and tricks here to any window you want to tackle!
We’re breaking up the task into two parts: First the windows and then the window treatments.
What You Need
When it comes to cleaning the actual windows, things are pretty straightforward as glass is glass, and aside from the slight differences between metal, vinyl, and wood-framed windows, there is very little variability in the materials windows are constructed from.
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Window treatments, on the other hand, are quite varied. When in doubt, however, a very light dusting with a microfiber cloth or a gentle vacuuming is usually sufficient to banish all but the most caked-on grime.
Here’s what you’ll need for both sparkling windows and window treatment freshening.
- A bucket
- A spray bottle
- A razor scraper
- White vinegar
- Dish soap
- Microfiber cleaning cloths
- A microfiber duster
- A vacuum with a hose wand and attachments
- (Optional for blinds) A blind duster
- (Optional for drapes) A lint brush
How to Clean Your Windows
Every vertical surface in your home collects bits of dust, dirt, and oil over time, but it’s never as obvious as it is when the collection point is the clear pane of a window.
Like with other similar cleaning tasks, such as when we cleaned the walls of the kitchen, the goal is to cut through the grime effectively and remove it. Windows are a bit more labor-intensive, however, because any little bit of left-behind-gunk or streaks are painfully obvious.
- Fill a large bowl or bucket with warm water, add a few drops of dish soap.
- Dampen a microfiber rag with the solution and start at the top of the window frame, wiping down the frames and the glass from top to bottom. If you have “tilt-in” double-hung windows that you can unlatch and tilt inwards to clean the outside surfaces from the comfort of your home, do so now.
- Rinse the rag frequently, even swapping it out with another clean rag if need be.
- Work your way around the entire bedroom for this first pass, wiping everything down with damp microfiber rags.
- At the end of the first pass, fold the rag over your finger and use it to swipe along the sill or tracks beneath the window—this area is particularly dirty as it’s both horizontal and the point where dirt drifts down the inside and outside of the pane.
- Grab some fresh dry microfiber rags and a spray bottle filled with warm water and white vinegar in a 2:1 ratio. You can also use a dedicated window cleaner like Windex if you have some on hand.
- Liberally spray your windows and wipe with a clean microfiber cloth in a tight back and forth Z-pattern, paying special attention to the edges closest to the frame (which are often overlooked when wiping hastily).
- Check the glass frequently, by looking at the surface from an angle, for streaks and small marks. Spray and wipe as needed. Also, keep an eye on how soiled your microfiber cleaning cloth has become—at a certain point you’re simply smearing the same grime around.
- If there are any very stubborn bits stuck on the glass like sticker residue, a bit of paint, or other things that the microfiber cloth and cleaning solution just aren’t budging, gently remove the stuck-on material with a razor scraper.
- Dry your windows with a clean microfiber cloth or, if you want to do it old school and you still have a physical newspaper subscription, use crumpled up newspaper to finish the job.
How to Clean Your Window Treatments
When it comes to window treatments, how you go about cleaning them varies based on the material. Let’s break it down by window treatment type, roughly grouped by material and construction. When in doubt, check your window treatments for tags or contact the manufacturer if there is only a label but not care instructions.
How to Clean Roller Shades
Roller shades are typically made of vinyl, though some are vinyl with a fabric layer, or (in the case of light filtering options) simply fabric.
- Start by lightly dusting the roller shade with a microfiber duster or carefully vacuum with your vacuum’s hose and soft brush attachment.
- In the case of vinyl shades, you can wipe down stubborn grime with a microfiber cloth dampened with warm soapy water. This is a viable cleaning method for many fabric shades too, but check for colorfastness first and avoid saturating the fabric.
How to Clean Horizontal and Vertical Blinds
Common in apartments thanks to how economical they are, horizontal and vertical slat blinds are more or less the default window treatment in much of America.
Horizontal blinds are, by far, a much bigger hassle to clean, but thankfully they’re pretty durable as long as you don’t aggressively handle them or bend the slats. Vertical blinds are larger and harder to damage, but you might require a step stool to reach the top comfortably.
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Be extra careful handling aluminum blinds as once they are bent too far or creased, the damage is permanent.
- Start by lightly dusting them with a microfiber duster, or use your vacuum’s hose with a brush attachment. The vacuum is unlikely to actually latch onto the slats, but use a gentle hand to avoid bending them while working.
- If you have lots of narrowly spaced horizontal slat blinds in your home, it can be useful to buy a dedicated tool for the task like this Hiware blind cleaner that slips in between the slats much more efficiently than your fingers can.
- In the case of particularly dusty and grimy horizontal plastic or aluminum slats, you can fill a bathtub with warm soapy water and actually submerge them in the tub. By gently wiping the slats or using a washcloth you can dislodge even stubborn multi-year-grime buildup. If you’re not comfortably unscrewing the blind hardware and taking the blinds down, however, we advise skipping this step.
Regardless of whether your blinds are vertical or horizontal, as long as you don’t use a heavy hand, bend them too far, or apply an abrasive cleaner it’s very hard to damage them.
How to Clean Cellular Shades
Cellular, or “honeycomb,” shades are a popular window treatment choice because they offer both light-filtering (and sometimes blackout benefits) and insulation in one. The material and durability vary significantly between brands but you typically want to avoid getting them wet at all.
- Lightly dust them with a microfiber duster or with a very light hand hover your vacuum cleaner hose with a soft brush attachment over them. If you question the steadiness of your hand, skip the vacuum as cellular shades are very light and delicate compared to other window treatments.
- Wipe any stuck-on dust or grime on the adjustment handles or metal/plastic valence off with a slightly damp microfiber cloth, taking care to avoid rubbing the actual cellular fabric.
How to Clean Curtains and Drapery
There is a huge variety of curtain and drapery fabric on the market, ranging from inexpensive polyester curtains with a heavy weave that can survive repeated laundering to extremely delicate silk draperies.
Outside of serious staining or serious neglect, however, it’s unusual for fabric window treatments to need deep cleaning involving actual laundering or dry cleaning so start with these basic steps.
- Start at the top of the fabric treatments, vacuum lightly with your vacuum’s hose attachment fitted with a soft brush. Try to jostle the top of the fabric as you were because this a prime collection point for dust to settle.
- Lightly brush down fabric panels, continuing to jostle the fabric lightly. You might opt to switch to an upholstery attachment for your vacuum hose at this point, but sometimes the focused suction across the flat face of the attachment is too strong and you end up fighting with the vacuum—stick with the brush attachment if this is the case.
- If you have window treatments, such as velvet, that are particularly prone to attracting pet hair, it can be useful to brush the surface of the window treatments (particularly at the bottom) with a lint brush to free the hair without resorting to aggressive vacuuming.
If your fabric window treatments require additional cleaning or are heavily soiled, we recommend contacting the manufacturer for additional guidance before attempting to spot clean or launder them.
Staying on top of cleaning tasks always makes keeping things cleaner easier, but in the case of window treatments, it makes it exponentially easier. There is a line when it comes to dirty window treatments where plain old dust turns into caked-on grime and the level of effort required to clean the treatments increases significantly. With that in mind, we’d encourage everyone to make attending to their window treatments a regular part of their cleaning routine.
Speaking of cleaning routines, we’re halfway through the bedroom segment of our spring cleaning week! As always, you can follow along on our Spring Clean Challenge landing page or get the lessons, along with all our other great content, delivered right to your inbox!