GIMME SHELTER- Blind ambition: Cleaning windows & blinds

Melinda Somers, Cavalier Window Cleaning & Powerwashing Inc.

Q: My windows and blinds are filthy! Any advice on how to tackle the job?

A: Remember to clean your blinds first. That may seem like obvious advice, but too often people clean their windows before their blinds. Cleaning blinds can be a tedious, messy job. If you clean your windows first, you're bound to get them dirty all over again. 

Ideally, we don't recommend that people clean their blinds themselves, unless they need just a simple cleaning or dusting. If your blinds are coated with grease and grime, it's going to be difficult to clean both sides of the slats and inside the little holes where the pull strings go. We've seen people try all sorts of things, like cleaning their blinds in the bathtub or trying to hose them down outside. The blinds get all tangled or damaged and the job ends up taking too long. 

That's why we recommend on-site services that use ultra sonic or high pressure wash machines. The ultra sonic system uses sounds waves to clean blinds, while the high pressure wash system is a kind of mini-power washer. Unfortunately, you can't rent these machines (an ultra sonic system costs $6,000 to $7,000), so there's really no choice but to hire a service. If you're preparing your house for sale, or getting ready for special guests, these services might be the best way to go.  

If you're determined to clean them yourself, remember to use a good grease cutting product, a very small scrub brush, and a lot of patience. You'll need to wipe down each slat individually on both sides and use the scrub brush to loosen the sticky grime. 

Fortunately, cleaning your windows is a little easier. We recommend using dish soap and warm water instead of glass cleaning products. Contrary to popular belief, the ammonia in these products can damage the UV coating on newer windows and actually leave an unsightly film. Even the old tried-and-true vinegar and water mixture, which is very acidic, can damage new high-tech windows. 

 You'll also want to use special micro-fiber cloth– the ones for windows, not dusting– which you can get at the local big box store. Micro-fiber cloths, as opposed to paper towels or newspaper, are good because they can absorb water and still be effective. You'll probably need four or five of these clothes to clean all the windows in a house. 

Now just put the soapy, warm water in a squirt bottle or apply it directly to the windows with a sponge. Afterwards, simply use a lint-free cloth to wipe off the excess soap and water and then finish it off for a streak-free shine with your micro-fiber cloth. 

Melinda Somers