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The Only Spring-cleaning Guide You’ll Ever Need

With Tips on How to Treat Your Window Treatments Right

Almost no one likes cleaning. But when spring rolls around, even the most reluctant cleaners opt to do a little scrubbing and sweeping.

Part of the reason why spring cleaning seems so daunting is the sheer extent of it: faced with a house full of dust, dirt, and objects of every size and material composition, it’s hard to know where to start.

That’s where this list comes in. Follow these steps in the order you see below and you’ll quickly make your way through your spring cleaning—with time left to enjoy spring walks, bike rides, and all the other things you’d rather be doing. We’ll start at the top and work our way down.

Look Up! Start With the Ceilings

During the winter when there isn’t much airflow through the house, cobwebs can collect. Walk through your house with a feather duster and hunt for cobwebs and clumps of dust hanging down from above, especially in the corners. It’s also a good time to inspect the ceiling plaster for any signs of water leaks or mold. Taking care of those types of situations early can save headaches in the long run.

Handprints and Grunge: Walls

Prepare a solution of dish soap and water and go on patrol. Look for places where there’s a lot of foot traffic. These places tend to accumulate handprints. Look at doorways and places where muddy shoes come close to the wall. Kitchen walls accumulate the most grunge. Use no more soapy solution than necessary and take care not to scrub off the paint. Keep in mind that some paints don’t take well to scrubbing: when the water dries, you might see big curving streaks where you scrubbed. Test a relatively hidden section of your painted wall before scrubbing a highly visible area.

Hard Surfaces Are Easy

Using the same solution we used to clean the walls or another gentle household cleaner, soak a rag or sponge and go on a cleaning rampage, hitting every hard surface in the house—except for the wood. For wood surfaces, give them a once-over with spray polish and a soft cloth.

Soft Surfaces Can Be Hard

It’s time to tackle one of the most difficult tasks: soft surfaces. Sofas, hassocks, recliners, pillows. There is no one single way to clean, say, a wine stain from a sofa, but the rule is that you should never use a stronger cleaner than is necessary to remove the stain. The decorative fabrics that comprise upholstered furniture are quite durable, but cleaners can affect their texture or color. Use care, and when you run into an extremely stubborn stain, consult an expert.

It's Time to Tackle the Windows

When it comes to cleaning windows, the squeegee is your friend. Fully open your window treatments—or remove them entirely—and gather up the following: a window-cleaning solution of your choice, some rags, and your squeegee. Then, spray the glass, squeegee off the cleaning solution, and wipe the squeegee with the rags. Use vertical strokes and be sure to clean up the excess cleaning solution so it doesn’t run down the sill or your freshly cleaned walls. You might make a mess—which is why we’re saving floor cleaning as our last step.

Treat the Window Treatments Right

A small amount of attention can keep your blinds, shades, shutters, and drapery looking good as new.

Blinds Are a Breeze

Blinds are durable and easy to care for. A monthly dusting does the trick, with one deep cleaning once a year. For high-traffic areas or situations where dirt and dust from the street might accumulate on your blinds, two cleanings a year might be called for. Care should be taken not to crush the vanes or damage the cords.

Vinyl, aluminum, and faux-wood blinds are the easiest to clean. A feather duster is generally enough for those monthly cleanings. For the annual deep cleanings, use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner and spot clean with mild soap and water.

For vinyl vertical blinds, spot clean with mild soap and water—or for a really deep clean, remove the vanes and give them a soak in water. Fabric vertical blinds should not be soaked—a light vacuum cleaning should do the trick (or, in situations where dirt and dust is heavy, a dry cleaning might be necessary).

Sheer vertical blinds should be cleaned like drapery—see below.

Like the other types of blinds, wood blinds can be lightly dusted once a month. But you should never use water on your wood blinds. Instead, for their annual deep cleaning, dust with a spray polish and a soft cloth.

The Right Way to Clean a Cellular Shade

Like blinds, cellular shades benefit from a light dusting or vacuuming. Spot clean with a gentle soap and water. Do this monthly or quarterly, depending on the amount of dust in your home, and take care to wipe in the direction that is parallel to the fabric’s pleats. Be careful not to crush the fabric, and always allow the fabric to air dry before completely raising the cellular shades.

The Feeding and Care of Roman Shades

No other window treatment has the style and sturdy elegance of a Roman shade. Like the other types of window treatments we’ve covered, Roman shades enjoy a monthly or quarterly dusting with an annual deep cleaning. Classic Roman shades should be removed from the window, fully opened and laid flat for a spot cleaning with mild detergent and warm water. Like cellular shades, classic Roman shades should be allowed to dry before being reattached and raised. On the other hand, tailored Roman shades, which are made of fabric, should not be spot cleaned but should instead be taken to an experienced dry cleaner for a professional clean.

Roller and Solar Shades Don’t Ask for Much

The easy-to-live-with roller and solar shades require just a monthly or quarterly vacuuming with the upholstery attachment. If necessary, use a damp cloth and some mild soap to clean up small stains, then allow the shades to dry before raising them. It’s that easy.

Be Delicate With Your Layered and Sheer Shades

Layered and sheer shades like light cleaning. Use a feather duster or a hand-held vacuum with low suction to avoid pulling or stretching the fabric. Compressed air or a hand-held hairdryer on the cool setting can also work. If you find it necessary to spot clean your layered or sheer shades, use mild detergent or even just distilled water. For bigger stains, seek an experienced professional.

Drapery Should Not Be Washed

The rule with curtains, fabric valences, and any kind of drapery, from heavy to sheer, is do not wash. Dry cleaning is fine—but seek out the services of a dry cleaner experienced in cleaning window treatments. Otherwise, cleaning drapery follows the same cleaning routine as most other window treatments: regular vacuuming with the upholstery attachment. This cleaning routine goes for all fabrics, from heavy cotton to delicate silk. Sheer vertical blinds should be treated as drapery when it comes to cleaning, and the vanes may need to be removed and re-steamed at a low temperature.

Shutters Are Easiest of All

Simply dust or vacuum your shutters as needed. You may also clean your shutters with a 5% solution of mild detergent in water—then give your shutters a rinse with plain water and dry with a soft cloth.

Go Easy on Natural Shades and Drapes

Natural shades and natural drapery made from wood, rattan, grasses, and bamboo should not be cleaned with water. Instead, give them a regular light dusting or vacuuming with the upholstery attachment. For spot cleaning, use a spray polish and a soft cloth. These sturdy shades and drapes require little more than this routine care.

For more window-treatment cleaning information, visit

We’re Almost There: Floor It!

After working up great clouds of dirt and dust, dripping window-washing solution, and dropping cobwebs onto the floor, it’s time to take the last step: cleaning the floor.

Vacuum your carpets, paying careful attention to the baseboards and corners. If you’re going to shampoo the carpets, now is the time: the nice weather makes it possible to open the windows and let the fresh air in.

Now for hard floors. First remove the dirt and dust. Brooms are nice, but a good vacuum cleaner does a better job making sure you’re not just moving the dirt from place to place. Pay special attention to the corners. Use the gentlest cleaner possible to mop. Follow the manufacturer instructions for your wood or laminated floor—some types of flooring should not be cleaned with water.

That’s it. Do these seven things and you’ll end up with a pretty clean house. Good luck and happy cleaning!