The Blinding Facts – About Blinds
Whether you own a home or live in an apartment you will eventually have to deal with window coverings. There are numerous options that look great. Curtains and drapes are fun, but an easy and functional alternative is to use blinds.
Types of Window Blinds
Window blinds come in several types, material choices and finishes. Most commonly used are: wood, plastic, aluminum and faux wood. The combination of the size of the slats and the type of material are used to create “your look”. What combination you choose depends solely upon your good taste. Keep in mind that some blinds have a “blackout” feature. This is where overlapping slats will be used to ensure that no light enters the room when the blinds are closed. This feature can prove very practical for bedroom windows, especially when you try to catch up on sleep during daylight hours.
Mini blinds are one of the most practical and versatile styles of window blinds. The materials normally used to make mini-blinds are vinyl, wood, and aluminum. Mini blinds are ideal for small and medium-sized windows. They can be used practically anywhere in the house; the living room, bedrooms, study or even the bathrooms. “Custom” mini blinds can be made to fit uniquely shaped windows. The least expensive mini-blinds are vinyl blinds. The slats are fragile and can be easily damaged. Also, the slats are thin and can sag. Vinyl blinds are a good choice if you are renting or expect to move soon. For strength and durability aluminum blinds are better than vinyl, but a bit more expensive. Wood is at the top of the cost scale. But wood has a warmth and beauty that both vinyl and metal mini-blinds lack.
Larger blinds made from aluminum and wood also are available. They are not terribly expensive, and are made in several contemporary styles. Larger wood or aluminum blinds hold up well and can last for decades. Aluminum blinds are generally available in ½ inch, 1 inch and 2 inch slat sizes. There are hundreds of colors to choose from to match any living space. A choice of different finishes like brushed, hammered and metallic, increases the available choices. Wood blinds with the addition of decorative chords and cables can be quite attractive. Faux wood blinds (we like to call this the “plastic coated chip board line”) also are available and look quite nice, but don’t last nearly as long as aluminum or real wood.
Maintaining Window Blinds
Here is where good old fashioned common sense works best. As with any home cleaning or maintenance project, the more often you do it the easier it is and the better it works.
One of the easiest ways to clean window blinds is with a vacuum. Make sure to use the brush attachment. The brush helps grab dust and reduces the chance of scratching. Also, be sure to slightly open the blinds so that the vacuum can get to both the top and bottom of the slats.
Try to dust window blinds once or twice each month. Use a soft clean cloth making sure that you tilt the slats in both directions to make sure that both sides (top and bottom) get cleaned. Another great method is to use a chemically treated dust cloth or one of the new synthetic feather duster.
If you really want to get things clean, you can wash your blinds. Use a soft, lightly dampened sponge and a small amount of a mild liquid dish detergent in warm water – no abrasives please. If your blinds are totally grungy, you can soak them in the bathtub for a brief period of time. Keep in mind that doing this for long periods can deteriorate the binding cords. After you remove them from the tub, you should rinse them with fresh water and hang them up to dry (A clothes line in the back yard works great). And don’t forget to wipe them down – they will watermark.
If you don’t want to soak your blinds, you can spray them. Sometimes all you’ll need is plain water. For heavier soil you may want to use either a commercial glass cleaner or your own cleaning concoction. We like to use water containing 5% vinegar (Use white vinegar. Wine vinegar can stain the bindings and chords.). Also we have used water with a teaspoon of alcohol. Both work great. The nice thing about spraying is that you can do it in place. But be careful of nearby furniture and decorations.
Note: You should never use steel wool or scouring pads to clean metal or vinyl blinds. It’s simply far too harsh. Scratch, scratch, scratch!
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