It’s Friday again (woo-hoo!) which means it’s time for another great cleaning tip. Today I’m going to show you how to clean something it took me 20+ years to finally do.
In the house I grew up in we had Silhouette blinds and I always wondered why people would buy them because they seemed impossible to clean. Fast forward 20+ years later and we moved into our current home, which, of course, has Silhouette blinds on some of the windows. My first thought was to just take them out back and burn them but then I decided that wasn’t a good option because with all our other projects going on, replacing the blinds isn’t in the budget.
I tried to just ignore them but after 18 months (yes, it took me THAT long to do something about it) I couldn’t handle how dirty they were any longer. The only problem was now that meant I had to come up with a way to clean them. So today I’m sharing my simple solution for how to clean Silhouette blinds that will have them looking new all over again.
Remove them from the window. Yep, you have to take them completely down if you want to give them the best clean possible. Once they are out of the window unroll them so they look like this.
If you have any dead bugs in your blinds then we want to get those out first. You can open the blind and turn them on their side which should drop most of the bugs out (I did this over the bathtub). If there are some stubborn ones use a hair dryer to blow them out.
Now it’s time to wash them. Pour a small amount of mild cleanser in the bathtub, I used Basic H to wash mine but if you don’t have any you can use a mild detergent or dish soap. Fill the bathtub up a few inches, just enough to cover the blinds.
Use your hands to “swish” the blinds around in the water to release the dirt.
I was right, my blinds were dirrr-ty because the water turned dark brown! Gross!
Once the water gets really dirty drain the tub. Repeat this process as many time as you need to until the water is no longer really dirty. I also used my daughter’s bath scoop to rinse the blinds with clean water in between filling up the tub.
Once the water is pretty clear, drain the tub. Fill the tub up one more time but this time don’t add any soap. “Swish” the blinds around in the clean water to get all the soap out of them. There shouldn’t be a lot because you shouldn’t be using that much soap, but it’s always good to rinse, just to make sure.
Step #5 (Optional)
Even after washing my blinds they were still a slight shade of brown, probably because they hadn’t been washed in 20+ years! To get them as clean as I possibly could I filled the tub back up with warm water and added a cup of bleach.
I “swished” the blinds around in the bleach, then let them sit in it for about 10 minutes. Then I drained the water and rinsed them really well (see step #6).
Drain the tub for the last time and then rinse the blinds one last time with a bath scoop or the shower head.
Once you’ve rinsed them for the last time leave them in the tub to dry. Because the material is so thin it doesn’t take them very long to dry, mine only took about a day.
Once the Silhouette blinds are dry, screw them back up into the window frame. You’ll be surprised at how clean they are and that they look new all over again!
Don’t believe me? Here are a couple close ups!
No more dirt, no more dead bugs, no more food splatters, no more greasy fingerprints, they are super dooper clean! To see more tips in the Love to Clean Series, click HERE.
Having cleaned literally hundreds of Silhouettes of all sizes and types over the past decade, please allow me to share a few things your readers may wish to know.
1) You can save money cleaning your own Silhouettes (instead of calling a professional), however don’t attempt to wet clean the Bon Soir or room darking versions of these shades unless you want to ruin them.
2) Silhouettes and similar shades are typically polyester fabrics; while bleach may make them whiter sticking with milder soaps or oxidizers that use oxygen would be gentler and may extend their life.
3) If they are over 8-10 years old and have had a lot of sun, the fabric can become brittle, so handling them wrong may shred them.
4) Handle them wrong and many of the sheer fabrics will show wrinkles and creases, so flat surfaces or drying them remounted and in the flat position would be better than the bathtub sideways picture illustrated. Puckers (wavy texture across the face sheer on the glue lines) in the fabric are also commonly created by poor handling during cleaning or wrong temperatures etc.
How would you suggest cleaning Silhouettes that are wider than your bathtub?
Do you have a large shower you can hang them in? If not I’d take them outside and spray them really good.
I place mine in my swimming pool. I leave them for a few hours and then hang them to dry. I do mine every couple of years so they are not that dirty. Mine are 28 years old. If you don’t have a pool use the garden hose (light spray) and mix up a batch of mild soap and Biz. Use a sponge to apply the soap mixture and rinse.
Carole Krieger says
Is there any problem putting the headers in the water as well?. You do not take them apart, do you? Your method sounds great. I have been sick of looking at my Silhouettes as well. They were gorgeous when new. How often do you clean them?
Thanks, Carole K
You can put the whole thing in the water if you want. I would clean them once every couple of years, or when they start to bother you. 🙂
Lois Simonton says
Thank-you for the thorough instructions. Sadly, most of my Silhouettes are way too wide to fit in the tub. Have you ever heard of anyone who does it professionally?
My own tip, I use a 2 speed cordless leaf blower (on lower speed) to keep mine blown out. Definitely do it BEFORE dusting!
I’ve never looked into having it professionally done so I’m not sure if there are people that do that. Another thing you could do is take them down, lay out painters plastic on your driveway, lay the blinds on the plastic, spray them with a mild cleanser, then spray them with the hose. Not the fanciest way to clean blinds but I’ve done it and it definitely gets the job done! I like your idea of “dusting” them with the leaf blower. 🙂
Hi Anna, Thanks for your post on cleaning silhouettes! Now that almost a year has passed since you documented cleaning your blinds, have you noticed any adverse effects of the method you recommended? I noticed that you appear to have immersed the metal bracket in the soapy bleachy cleaning solution. Did that turn out OK too? We had ours professionally cleaned about 7 years ago. It costed a bomb and I wasn’t too happy with the results. They appeared to be very hard on the fabric. So this time I’m thinking of doing it myself. Did you look into taking the fabric off the metal bits? That’s also something I’ve been pondering.
I’d appreciate any further comments now that you’re a year down the road with your cleaning.
Bethany Davis says
Hi, Steve. I’m Anna’s assistant, Bethany. Sorry to hear about the issues with having your silhouettes professionally cleaned! A year later, Anna has not had an issues since immersing the silhouette blinds in the water solution. She said that she didn’t use very much bleach at all so that may be why she didn’t have any issues with the metal bits. She just kept everything together (did not take the fabric off the metal bits), submerged for 10 minutes, and then rinsed them with fresh water and they still look great. Hope this helps you with your decision!
Anna, thanks this worked like a charm. 15 years of filth. Icky…….I considered buying new blinds for my kitchen. They were in bad shape. Did oxy clean in the tub for one hour and did a quick scrub with a soft brush then changed water and went in with a 1/2 cup of gel bleach and hot water for another 30 min. Rinsed them off well with shower head and I am amazed. Outside to dry as it is a somewhat nice day. They look beautiful and smell clean.
Awesome!! I’m so glad I could help. 🙂
Betty martinez says
Used this method in 1995, cords were black from husbands dirty hands. Amazing how even cords came out looking new, white, easiest way ever to clean them. Now have a house full of them and no problem cleaning them in bathtub!
Mary Burum says
Can you tell me how to get the Blonds down. I can’t seem to figure out these brackets? Any help would be great. Thank you.
At the top of the blinds there should be a plastic casing that they roll up into. The front of that pops off and then you’ll see how to take them down. 🙂
s. kohn says
can you please be more specific at how to remove the shades. i dont seem to be able to get them down.
If you want to email me a picture, I can try to be more specific but without seeing your set up, I really can’t help much more.
Just got a quote at $9/vein to clean my Silhouettes. Yikes, I’m looking at nearly $600 before trip charge. Mine are verticle, about 9′ high. All professionals say “DO NOT TAKE THEM DOWN” I’m ready to try by myself. Any suggestions for such big blinds.
Wow, that’s crazy expensive!!! Honestly I would just do it the way I showed in my post, but I’m not always one to follow the “professional’s” rules. 😉
Kay Gardner Pyle says
Used your guidance today to clean silhouette blinds that had been hung in November 1994 and ignored till today. Found it relatively easy once we got them down–we sacrificed the old brackets, resorting to a gently applied crowbar to pry the blinds out. Replacement brackets are easy to find, and next time we need to remove the blinds, it will be easy.
As you indicated, the difference is so nice. The bugs (and their droppings) are gone –the almost white blinds are no longer sooty grey with tinges of brown. Our only difficulty was the size of one blind–at 6′ wide and 5 1/2′ long, handling it was awkward. We stood that one upright in our walk-in shower, used a car-washing sponge to slop on the mild detergent as well as the weak bleach solution. Utilized a long push broom to help hold it erect. The hand-held shower worked nicely.
We were surprised by two things: how easily they cleaned up and how sturdy the fabric and construction appear to be (remember these are one of the earliest versions–maybe that helped). We won’t dread a repeat of the process and it surely will be sooner than almost 22 years! Thanks so much for your advice and encouragement.
Awesome! Thank you SO much for coming back and commenting so others could see how well it worked for you! It truly is amazing how nicely they clean up. 🙂
Today I rehung one of my silhouette blinds after washing it and am absolutely thrilled with the result!
Now I plan to take down and wash all the others – after five years they are really dirty!
By the way, I found a video on You Tube which shows you exactly how to take down the blinds and put them back – simply could NOT believe how easy it is!!!
Awesome! When I hung mine back up I was thrilled with how much cleaner they were! Thanks for coming back and sharing your success so others can read about it. 🙂
Thank you for the suggestion of washing the (larger than bathtub size) Hunter Douglas Blinds. Today we removed the units opened the blinds and laid them across the top of our Jacuzzi. We used Simple Green liquid spray and then hosed them with the spray nozzle. Lots of grey water washed out and the results are Perfect!! Then while still opened we hung them across some hooks on our patio. The Southern California sun and breeze has dried them in a short time and they have been returned to the windows.
Also a note about the need to replace the clamp for the top of the blind. A few years ago one of our clips cracked and the blind needed to be taken down. I contacted Hunter Douglas, gave them the style number and year that they were purchased and within a week, we received a replacement clip and a spare. The best Customer Service-impressive.
Just washed mine they way you suggested….they look and smell amazing! Thanks . But the issue I’m having now is the one will not open now, it goes up and down put won’t open, oh boy. Can you help p,ease. Thanks
I’m sorry, I’m not sure why that would be happening… Maybe try googling it? I’m glad they’re nice and clean now though. 🙂
Kim D. says
I want to thank you as well for such good instruction on cleaning my 23 year old Silouettes. I have 6 approximately 3 feet wide white blinds that show across the front of my one story ranch. Bought new replacement windows and could not bear to put those dirty blinds back up on my brand new windows. I would like to offer a couple of things a did differently that worked for me—
1. I used Oxi Clean White Revive and Tide in warm water. I hand washed, plus pulled the blind by the bottom in and out of the soapy solution. This action washed all the bugs out of the slots. I let the blind soak about 30 min, hand washing in between a couple of times.
2. After a couple of rinse cycles, I rolled the blind in its casing and turned it on one end on a towel to drain for about 20 minutes.
3. I then mounted them. By the way Hunter Douglas sent me new mounting brackets by request. The new style brackets are so easy.
4. I opened the blind shook it like a sheet on a bed a few times to open it up. They were dry in a couple of hours.
My blinds look brand new, I kid you not!! I am so pleased with myself I had to post. Why did it take so long to do something about cleaning my beautiful Silhouettes? And to think I considered having them professionally cleaned before I came across this valuable information. Thank you.
That’s so awesome, I’m glad I could help!!! 🙂
Clare Gaszak says
Washed my silhouettes last night and then put them sideways to drain. We were able to rehang them pretty quickly because the flooring in the room is ceramic. The problem is that none of the veins will open although they do go up and Dow. Six blinds would cost a fortune to replace. Any ideas on how to fix this? Thank you in advance for your help, Love your webpage,,
That’s so strange. Are they opening again now that they have fully dried?
Sue Connors says
Hi— I just washed my Silhouette Shades— they were so dirty! They look like new— thanks so much!
You should see my bathtub now! Filthy! I am going to do that now and I am finished. Great help-
Thanks, Sue Connors
Awesome!!! Thanks for coming back and sharing your success, glad I could help. 🙂
Nola Mason says
I am so Happy I found you! Thank you so much for the great instructions for cleaning my Silhouette Blinds! I have had them since November 1995 and Never cleaned them as I was always under the impression that they could not be cleaned and could not find a professional cleaner! Just had my bathroom renovated and did Not want to hang those dirty blinds back up! They came out beautifully! So I started on the bedroom! Just got one done and it is the room darkening Type and it won’t open now! ? I’m now afraid to do the others in the room! I have 5 more in the bedroom! Any suggestions? ?
But will definitely get on to the living room and dining room! Have 7 more to do in there!
Thank You! I’m very Happy to have found a way to clean these blinds as they cost a fortune even way back then!!! ?
Nola Mason says
Just tried the blinds that wouldn’t open last night and they open now! ??
Debbie Welsh says
All great tips. I have sever silhouette blinds. I have room darkening silhouettes in my bedroom. I vacuumed them completely and used a hair dryer. Although much better could use more cleaning. Any other tips besides the complete wet wash for room darkening blinds?
Was so happy to find your instructions on how to wash the sihouettes. The only thing that bothers me is how long it took me to do it! I did five today and I don’t think I realized just how gross they were … the water was seriously filthy!! Didn’t want to wait to put them back up so I laid them flat on a towel and blotted them with another towel. Then I held them up and blew them dry for a bit with my hairdryer. Hung them while still a little damp and they look amazing! Good workout for my arms too, lol. Need to do two more large ones now …
Yay! So glad I could help. 🙂
Douglas Murphy says
I first tried to clean my shades with a Bissell spot cleaner, which was recommended on another sight. I bought the unit and spent a couple hours of torture on my knees wetting and vacuuming and the result were a 7. So I found this sight. What a dream and the results were a 10. Being lazy, I filled the tub about 1/3 full with a dash of dawn. I let them just soak for 20 minutes, then lifted them a few times, then gently rubbed them down with a big bath sponge. Folded them over a couple times and took outside. I put a piece of wood between two pillars on a side porch and hung the blinds, then rinsed them with a garden house. Left them to dry and they were perfect. I have a picture but no way to post. My blinds were a vanilla color and now they are bright white.
Awesome!!! I’m so glad you found my post and that it helped! 🙂
Pam Olds says
I have battery operated silhouettes in my 12’ high windows. They are 12 years old. I want to clean them and change the batteries. Do you have a suggestion on how to keep water out of the electric components?
I would soak them up to the electronic parts and find a way to keep those up and out of the water (maybe use blocks or something sturdy like that). If you don’t have something like that maybe just take them outside, have someone hold the shades up and then spray them with a hose, up to the top. I would try the bathtub thing first but it’s whatever you’re most comfortable with. 🙂 Good luck!
Dennis Tryon says
There must be a way to clean the room darkening type, has anyone found a way?
I would love to just replace the fabric of my silhouettes instead if cleaning is this possible? I would think you can just open up the head rail and pullout the old silhouette and put in new, has anyone ever tried this?
I haven’t, I’m sorry. I think you might have to purchase a new one, I’ve never heard of being able to replace the fabric. Please let me know if you figure out a solution though, I’d love to be able to share with other readers. 🙂