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Can You Clean Blinds That Have Yellowed Over Time?


Window treatments require routine care and upkeep. Horizontal as well as vertical blinds have a tendency to collect lint, dust, and other debris. This may result in discoloration of blinds over a period of time. When the blinds are initially white, it generally implies that they turn a murky yellowish color that is unappealing and wears off the look of an otherwise tidy room. Cleaning blinds offer a fresh look to the binds helping them to restore their classic appearance. However, even the most meticulous housekeeping cannot prevent the blinds from turning yellow. Exposure to harmful sun rays damages your blinds even in the presence of a protective UV coating. Additionally, most of the discoloration due to the sun’s rays is permanent. Still, with correct care and maintenance, the yellowing process can be slowed down.

Why Do Blinds Turn Yellow in the Sun?

The first thing that comes to our mind regarding the yellowing of the blinds is the poor quality of materials. But, this isn’t the reason and it usually boils down to two things:

  1. Harmful UV Rays: Blinds block out the sunlight while you are sleeping and ease the harsh brightness of sun rays during the hottest part of the day. Protecting us from the harmful sun rays takes a toll on the blinds. This protection wears thin like any other armor. Exposure of blinds to the harmful sun rays over a period of time damages any protective coating. Without this coating, the blinds tend to lose their actual color and get yellowed.
  2. Indoor Pollution: Indoor pollution can be of any form and can be the reason for the yellowing of blinds. While smoking in public places is banned, however smoking at your own house isn’t. There are often clear indicative signs of a house that is affected by the smoking of cigarettes and one of them being the yellowing of blinds. Nicotine residue accumulates on any surface that it comes in contact with and leaves behind stains in its destructive path. Commercial equipment and machines emit fumes into the atmosphere. While these fumes might not be harmful to human beings, however, if present in close proximity to some materials, over a period of time, it may lead to staining and yellowing of materials like blinds.

The risk of both air pollution and harmful UV rays is that both of them cannot be seen through naked eyes. You cannot notice the particles accumulating on the material and developing until it is too late. And before you know it, the blinds would already have a yellow tinge to them, where the grime would have stained the blinds permanently.

Whitening of Yellowed Blinds

  1. PVC/Aluminum Blinds
  • Using a dry rag, dust both sides of each slat thoroughly. This should be done once with the closed blinds and then with the opened blinds to ensure all the dirt on the surface is removed.
  • Now, carefully remove all the individual slats of the blind from the clips. If it is hard or impossible to remove the slats, then take down the complete blind from the window with a screwdriver. Secure all the screws in a safe place until the blinds are ready to be installed.
  • Place the individual slats or the complete blinds in the bathtub. Now, immerse the slats/blinds completely in the bathtub filled with cold water. Add 2 to 3 cups of liquid bleach to the water. Let the slats/blinds soak in the bleach solution for around 10 mins.
  • Wear rubber gloves and clean wipe both the sides of every slat with the bleach solution using a sponge/rag. This should be done carefully without tangling any strings or bending the slats
  • Empty the bathtub. Take out the slats/blinds and dry them with a towel. In the case of blinds, you have to hold the blinds above the bathtub while drying them with a towel. Else, you can rest the wet blinds on top of several towels and let them air dry.
  • Reinstall the blinds or replace the slats using a screwdriver, fixing the screws in their actual positions.

2. Fabric Blinds

  • Using a screwdriver, the blinds should be taken off the window.
  • Fill up to 1 foot of the bathtub with water and add 2 to 3 cups of liquid bleach.
  • Immerse the blinds completely in the bleach solution. Let it soak for around 10 minutes and then empty the bathtub.
  • Now, fill the bathtub with sufficient cold water until the blinds are completely immersed. Lift the blinds gently from the water and immerse them again. Repeat the same procedure several times which effectively rinses any leftover bleach from the fabric.
  • Empty the bathtub, replace the plug, add more water, and rinse again. Rinsing it for the second time is essential because left-over bleach traces if any can damage the fabric.
  • Take out the fabric blinds from the bathtub and install them on the window. Open the windows, close the blinds completely, and place a towel beneath them to hold any dripping water. Air-dry the fabric naturally.

3. Wooden Blinds

  • The blinds should be dusted thoroughly using a soft rag with the blinds opened. Repeat the same procedure keeping the blinds closed.
  • Dampen the rag with a generous quantity of wood cleaner/polish and wipe the surface of each wooden slat. Tough stains can be removed by using elbow grease. You can apply some more of the cleaning solution to the rag if necessary.
  • Stained wooden blinds can be made to appear like new ones by taking them off the window and coating the slats with white paint.

Bottom Line

Blinds are capable of offering the perfect finished look to a room with their sleek, clean lines and attractive shades. They are a worthy investment. However, like any other fittings/fixtures in the house, blinds also gather grime, dust, dirt, and certain kinds of debris. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that the blinds are cleaned regularly.

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