Just washed my Silhouette blinds: how I saved $700.

July 5, 2008

Can you tell I'm proud? I wanted to share:

I have a bunch of Hunter Douglas Silhouette mini blinds and boy were they dirty. Dusty and little bugs inside of them. So I called a Hunter Douglas authorized cleaning service. He wanted SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS to clean 15 blinds. I was like OH OKAY and my husband wondered aloud how much NEW ones would cost. So I said what the heck, let's clean them ourselves. I got out the mini Bissel carpet cleaner (the kind with suction hose and two tanks and on-board heater) and just wet them and vaccumed out the water. We took them down and layed them on some thick towels in the kitchen to clean them. You should have seen the dirty water; it was BLACK. I mean, these were white blinds and they looked dusty but apparently they were filthy. And then since they are 100% polyester they dried in minutes and voila. Clean blinds. No water stains or marks or anything. I think I could have taken them outside in the sun and srpayed off the dust with the garden hose and it would have worked, too.

Comments (82)

  • Ilene Perl

    I'm not sure who posted this here today, but it came just in time, my Silhouette blinds need to be cleaned,I have the green machine and am going to try..... got an estimate that was 550 for theses and the lucettes..... trying this sounds great!

  • Ilene Perl

    I'm not sure who posted this here today, but it came just in time, my Silhouette blinds need to be cleaned,I have the green machine and am going to try..... got an estimate that was 550 for theses and the lucettes..... trying this sounds great!

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  • Caree

    Wonder how the original blinds are holding up 4 1/2 years later. Cleaned again? Is the OP still out there to report back?

    I wonder how the blinds are cleaned professionally. Those rug cleaners from the supermarket that use water do wreck the carpet over time!

  • Karen Eagle

    Snookums2 - After researching on-line, and according to HD, the silhouettes need a professional injection/extraction cleaning service. Hunter Douglas 800 number can recommend a service in your area.
    Ilene- 84 - Good luck. I read somewhere to use distilled water when spot cleaning so you may want to consider it. I would definitely test it, but it seems like it worked for the others :).

  • Ilene Perl

    I'm interested if anyone who cleaned their blinds is around.... wondering if they held up or if they did any damage to the blind. I know what HD recommends, and now I'm thinking of having them cleaned professionally.

  • bananafana

    I'm not the original poster. But a year ago I did use my Little Green Clean Machine (old style, no heat, etc) on my daughter's older Duette blinds that had some icky staining on them when they bought the house. I had to be real aggressive on two of them. Came out great, still holding up fine.

    I didn't soak them. Just machine-sprayed lightly with solution, then suctioned up. Did that over and over where the stains were, and maybe just once or twice on the rest of the blind that was not stained. Suctioned them as dry as possible as I went. Compressed them overnight to make sure the folds were good.

    I found it easier to remove the pleated fabric from the headrail and bottom rail before I cleaned them, but I'm sure it would be fine not to remove them.

    I have also ironed the pleats when for some reason they were all wonky and crappy looking and she was thinking she'd need to replace. Again, no problem. Just time-consumming.

  • Tmnca

    They are just polyester, it is easy to clean and many have done it successfully. Polyester doesn't easily shrink or become damaged by simply dunking in a tub and rinsing or using a carpet cleaner.

    BTW a pro extraction service just does the same thing as the Little Green but with more power. That power might be needed for carpets with pile, but a thin sheet of polyester? Nope.

    I'm sure "problindscleaner" doesn't like word spreading that his or her services may not be necessary!

    (I don't own this type of blinds, BTW so I have never cleaned them at all but I sure would not pay several hundred dollars for a blind cleaning service!)

  • Ilene Perl

    Thank you dgmarie and everyone else for your help! I did as suggested, used Little Green Machine to clean my Silhouette blinds in my LR/Dr as stated they came out looking great, the water turned black. I left them on the window since with extraction method I was told they don't remove the blinds. To clean the cords I wound up using diluted bleach on a clean rag, the cords look as clean as the blinds.

    Then I did same to Hunter Douglas Luminettes, I poured cleaning solution into a spray bottle, worked each panel individually from top to bottom first closed, extracted from back too, and then open. Several hours later I have clean window treatments, my least expensive estimate for these 3 shades was 875.....I am very happy and proud!

  • bananafana

    Good for you---you saved a bundle! The older I get, the more I realize you can do so much yourself rather than throwing money at it. And good thing, since we are both retired now and have more time than money.

    For other readers, I wanted to mention that in my earlier post I said I have ironed the pleats also. I should have mentioned that the wonkiness of the pleats had nothing to do with the cleaning of them. I should have said that these were some other cellular blinds at her house that had a different problem due to being extended for a long, long time in the hot sun before they bought the house. And then there was a major ceiling leak. My point was that they were salvageable by ironing.

  • twins99

    I went to sears to look at the little green machine and was wondering how it works because the attachment looks to big to fit inside the silhouette. Is there another attachment i need to purchase or do you just suction out the water without going inside the silhouette.

  • pricklypearcactus

    This is brilliant! Thank you! The previous owners put what I think are Hunter Douglas blinds that sure look a lot like the pictures of the Sillhouettes or maybe Nantuckets. They are dirty and I've been wondering what I can possibly do to clean them. I have a Bissel Little Green Machine too... unfortunately it's also used to umm resolve dog incidents. But I've been thinking about buying a new one (this is my 2nd) since the spray head isn't working correctly anymore.

  • bananafana

    twins99---you just clean them from the front of the fabric and basically, all the dirt comes out that way with the suction you get with the Little Green. You don't have to get the machine head into the spaces.

    pricklypear---I had the same problem with the nozzle but it started working after I soaked the spray head in vinegar overnite. I think it's that tiny pinhole on the nozzle that gets clogged.

  • Ilene Perl

    Try to start from the top and work down the water and dirt does drip a little. I tried it in a hidden spot toward the middle at first, which made the whole process messier for me. I noticed a small area on the bottom most row in the middle of my largest blind (covers 3 windows) where it looks as though some dirt is on the inner part of the blind, I plan on going over it with the little green machine and hope that it comes off (only noticeable when shade is closed). But other than that they look as clean as they were when new!

  • downtowner

    I have a carpet cleaning machine, but when my Silhouettes need cleaning I will try my Ladybug steam cleaner, while they are still hanging.

    Just a guess at this point in time, but I suspect it would work.

    It has removed extensive mildew from a polyestercarpet next to the shower with no problem, and made it look like new.

  • garg

    Got a $1532 estimate for cleaning blinds of a remodeled home. Bought a $25 inflatable swimming pool, filled it with water, mild detergent and rinsed. They are clean as new. It took me 3 hours with some help from my better half. 30 blinds , 452 sq ft, some as wide as 6 ft.

    Now, a professional blind cleaner may still show me why my output is marginally sub-optimal (which I still doubt), but for my needs and budget, I think it worked out best. Friends have already commented on how good the shades look.

    Professional cleaners do not and cannot guarantee better than DIY results. Read their fine prints.

  • cececede

    I would like someone to send me pictures of their Silhouette blinds before and after they have been cleaned with A Bissel Little Green Machine. I don't own one, but would like to buy one . I would like to see the finished product first, before purchasing.


  • Gnet

    I cleaned mine with the attachment to my carpet cleaner. I hosed them down first, and used the carpet cleaner accessory for furniture(the one that just sprays and sucks, no spinning action) and it worked great. They look brand new. I've had mine for 20 years and only ever vacuumed them. I did both sides and the water was black! It was worth the time. I will post before and after pictures.

  • Jackb115

    Hi all I also have 10 HD Silhoutte blinds that needed cleaning. I did buy the machine and started cleaning the first blind. I must say it does clean very well however, it is a mess and time consuming. My wife and I decided to do it the easy way and if it didn't work I was willing to give up and buy new blinds. We filled the tub with water about a third of the way and added Oxyclean (generous amount) and simply soaked the blinds for a few minutes each and rinsed them out. Let the blinds drain out in the tub afterwards. I could not believe my eyes when we put the blinds up. They were like new again. I cannot believe how much HD dealers charge for cleaning these blinds. it only cost me the price of a box of Oxyclean and 1 hour of my time.

  • tuesdayschild

    Hi all, to those of you who have used Oxiclean or other oxygen bleach on these -- how much did you use? Jackb said "a generous amount" but I'm wondering how much that is. I've got mildew spots on the bottom third of my Silhouettes. I've been soaking them for 2 hours in about 1/3 of a tub with 5 scoops of oxy bleach powder with some gentle rubbing every so often. So far I'm not getting any spots going away.

    I tried the Little Green first, with them hanging, but had no success, so now I'm trying the soaking, but maybe I'm not using enough oxy?

    Any reccos? Thanks!

  • Jackb115

    Sorry for the late respons Teusdayschiled
    I have used quite alot of oxyclean. my blinds didn't have mildew spots but they did pick up alot of dust for over 8 years. my house was rented and the tenant did nothing to maintain a clean house. when i started cleaning the blinds the water was turning dark gray. I did the process few times and each time adding few scoops of oxyclean. i used a large pan to rinse off each blind while holding it open. this did the trick and my blinds are as new. I hope you were able to clean yours.



  • pamisue51

    I recently bought a home that had Hunter Douglas Silhouette shades in the kitchen. They were about 6 years old and had never been cleaned. As I wasn't the one who paid the high prices for them, I had nothing to lose. I took them down, put them in the bathtub (head rail and all) and soaked them in laundry detergent and bleach. I rinsed them and let them dry on towels for a couple of hours. They were like new and I rehung them. Don't know what all the commotion is about. They work beautifully.

  • pamisue51

    I recently bought a home that had Hunter Douglas Silhouette shades in the kitchen. They were about 6 years old and had never been cleaned. As I wasn't the one who paid the high prices for them, I had nothing to lose. I took them down, put them in the bathtub (head rail and all) and soaked them in laundry detergent and bleach. I rinsed them and let them dry on towels for a couple of hours. They were like new and I rehung them. Don't know what all the commotion is about. They work beautifully.

  • Gnet

    Never use bleach on sihouettes

  • gaylene57

    I'm an interior designer and installed Silhouettes throughout my home 20 years ago. They've been professionally cleaned several times. The last time, it was disappointing - several hundred dollars for a very poor job and wouldn't return calls to rectify. This autumn I decided to attempt cleaning them myself and made the decision to clean (perhaps risk) the smallest blind as a test run. This is the process I used for the 1st and subsequent blinds:

    1 - Filled the walk-in shower with warm water (about 2") & Oxyclean according to directions
    2 - Soaked blinds for 5-10 minutes, used a soft bristled manicure brush to gently run it left to right, then right to left to help loosen dirt and insect remains. In a few places, the brush wouldn't dislodge the nastier stuff. I taped 2 wooden bbq skewers together for length (pointy sides at taped joint) and used the flat side to gently dislodge) by scraping the remains between the sheer fabrics that had stuck.
    3 - Used handheld shower (gentle spray) to rinse, top to bottom
    4 - Hung over shower curtain rod that was placed in the center of shower; tilted top and bottom rails from hi to lo until water stopped pouring out (make sure curtain rod is firmly in place. If you don't have a horizontal tile lip to place the rod above for > stability, consider another way to get as much water out as possible to lessen the weight prior to hanging on rod)
    5 - Let air dry with the help of a small fan for about 30-60 minutes depending on size
    6 - Hung back in place overnight unrolled; on the 2nd day, I rolled completely up thinking that could help eliminate any puckering for about 12 hours. I allowed the 1st blind to hang for a month to test this out)

    Worked like a charm! Seriously, had I known it was this easy, I would have saved myself BIG bucks over the years.

    If using a shower curtain rod, place in the center of the tub (or purchase a new one for a fraction of the cost of sending out to clean).

    Burt, I agree with greywings. Could the others that fall apart be knock-offs and not be as well made as Hunter-Douglas? In my personal situation, it was easy and they look great without any puckering. I will still be calling a professional cleaner for 2 that are over 60" wide because they won't fit in the walk-in shower, but am still thinking of a way to do myself!

    After the test run, I was able to clean 3 in a couple hours (2 were French patio door coverings that are nearly 6' tall).

    The key is handling the blinds "GENTLY" and not soaking which could (surmissing here) could loosen adhesive on the veins - also the reason to use a fan to dry quickly. Nothing in full force to alleviate any stretching that could result in puckering.

    Hunter Douglas' disclaimer recommends using the services of a professional blind cleaner who cleans ultrasonically or injection/extraction. Because this worked for me, I cannot say this will work for anyone else's blinds. If you have any doubts, I highly recommend a professional cleaner.

  • jbacali

    I have read that Silouette Blinds which are the ( Bon Soir ) kind should NEVER be cleaned by anything but injection/extraction. Has anyone else tried to clean theirs other than this way?

  • cbellas

    The Littlegreen ProHeat Bissell method really worked. I just used it on my Hunter Douglas Silhouette blinds. Thank you so much for the recommendation. Just saved myself $3000 by NOT having to purchase new ones and $1750 not paying for an "ultrasonic" cleaning.

  • Julie Spurbeck

    Thanks for giving me the courage to try it! I saw the below post from "oxymee" on another site; I wanted to know if Oxyclean would work since I have food stains on my blinds from my son. I used: 1 scoop Oxyclean, 3 oz Zep commercial upholstery cleaner (Home Depot) and 1 gallon hot water. Mixed them up, let them sit for 20-30 minutes and used the mixture in our Rug Doctor.

    The Rug Doctor's hand tool worked awesome. I did a first pass adding the mix, going through the entire silhouette from top to bottom. Then I did a second pass just pulling out excess water (i.e., not holding down the cleaner-release handle.) They came out perfectly white and were dry when I checked them a couple hours later. They smell great, too. :-) They are back up and look great.


    "To wash my window blinds, I soak them in oxyclean. It’s amazing how clean they get! I use 1 to 1 1/2 scoops of oxyclean and 1/2 cup of laundry detergent, a long plastic storage container with hot or warm water and soak them for about 1/2 hour or so. Usually I pre-mix the oxyclean in a tall plastic cup to get it activated it in hot water and in 10 min or so it looks like a bluish slushy but then it’s good to go! I soak everything including the wand part and the little sliders for the ends."

  • cececede

    Has anyone ever used the Green machine on "Hunter Douglas" Silhouette BonSoir shades. They are very delicate. I had four that I wanted to be cleaned, and one with water marks on it. A professional cleaner in Toronto was going to charge me $75.00 per shade plus shipping costs to clean them, as I live in Northern Ontario

  • grandmapeanut

    I'm quite sure you could use the Green Machine on Silhouette BonSoir shades. I looked it up and it says that the fabric on the outside and on the inside is 100% polyester. Polyester is very washable. I read that the "inner fabric" is a knit which suggests being gentle, but the outer fabric is a woven polyester, so I think it would work out fine since you won't make direct brush contact with the knit. I'm guessing that the inner knit is fairly strong any way, given all the sun they get.

  • monchikg


    Can I clean my shilloutte blinds on the wall or do I need to take them down? Also, I just ordered the little green machine, have never used and not familiar with it. Do I need to buy a special cleaning solution for the machine? Thank you.

  • ILoveRed

    I used my Green Machine on my Silhouettes about 5 yrs ago. They were so filthy that I figured, what did I have to lose. The solution is available at Walmart or K-mart in the vacuum cleaner department. A green bottle.

    i spread old sheets out on my (clean) garage floor, and took my fully extended blind there and spread it out over the sheets. The Green Machine has a cycle that sprays soapy water. Don't overdo the soap. Then gently scrub with it and suck the water out. If you don't soak them, they will dry fairly quickly.

    i did mine when it was warm outside. That helped them dry. Don't get too close to the top part of the blind and get the lifting mechanism wet.

    It was going to cost a fortune to clean them, and I can't imagine that they could have looked any better. I'm not crazy about the darn things anyway. Especially when bugs die inside the spaces.

    good luck!

  • SPmom

    Have owned Silhouettes for about 15 years and can't wait to clean them. One thing that may help evryone is that to get the insect bodies out here is what I have done. Went to the fish store and purchased and 4 foot long clear straight tube 1 3/16 diameter. These are used in large aquariums. If you put this tube in each of the "honeycombs" of the shade, hold your vacuum to the end (with no attachment on) and the little things come right out. With wider shades, you have to go to the other side and do the same thing. Hope this helps someone as reading this and getting hints on how to use the Green Machine has helped me.

  • party_music50

    Never heard of the little green machine until reading this, but just ordered one!

  • ILoveRed

    SPMom...thanks for the dead bug tip. Do you have a pic of this tube. We don't have a fish store and I am going to try to find this tube online.

  • robynmcginnis0

    Thank you for this post...I bought the $79 green machine (without water heater) and just finished my first set of 11 year old white silhouettes. They were filthy and I was so stressed over how to clean them...they look brand new!!! I'm so stoked!! Can't thank you enough...had you not shared this method I'd have been stuck with a huge bill from the "professional cleaner"!

  • ILoveRed

    I made the mistake of putting my toddler grandson in one of our twin beds without a waterproof mattress protector. He was potty trained but had on a pull-up that wasn't adequate. The green machine worked like magic!

    glad it worked so well for you.

  • Ms K

    dgmarie, I don't know if you're still around as this is an 8 year old post, but I want to send a huge thanks to you! Until I read this thread, I was doubtful I could clean my Silhouettes on my own. The Green Machine did the job perfectly. I was super excited to see my blinds go from dingy and grey to bright white!

    All the fantastic ideas on this thread helped me to devise a good set up to clean my blinds. So thought I'd add to this wonderful collection of ideas by sharing mine:

    I laid out an old vinyl shower curtain on top of some old boards on my lawn (I laid down the boards to give myself a smooth, solid surface to vaccuum against... helps improve the suction; and did it over the lawn so at least the water could be reused, keeping the lawn watered). I "presoaked" the blinds by spraying them with a spray bottle of soapy water. I only use nontoxic cleaners in my home so I mixed a bit of Dr. Bronner's liquid soap with water.

    I then sucked up the dirty soapy water with the GM then rinsed off with the garden hose. For extra dirty blinds (e.g. the one in the dining room behind my kids' seats), I did more than one pass, scrubbed and cleaned both sides of the blinds. To dry them, I hung them on the clothes line.

    They were never cleaned for at least 10 years; yet, save for some stubborn food stains, all of the blinds look like new! Now I know how easy and cheap I can DIY clean them, they will get a regular cleaning from now on. Thanks SO MUCH dgmarie!

  • Ms K

    For the person who asked for before and after photos: I wasn't organized enough to snap "before" photos but here is an "after":

    This blind in particular had a dusty grey film all over it and spots of mildew at the bottom edges. It looks a bit grey in the photo because of the lighting and the shadows. It's actually a glimmery bright white! :)

  • glynnae

    After stressing about if DYI cleaning would work, I took the plunge, and WOW!! I ran warm water, and liquid Tide in my bathtub, and soaked my luminettes for about 10 minutes, swishing the water once in a while. I rinsed them with the hand shower, and hung them to dry over the tub, and voila, they are white again, and beautiful. BTW, my shades are 12 years old, have hung in front of an open window, and just survived a bathroom remodel, in which there was dust, dirt, and a lot of sanding going on......highly recommend!

  • hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

    I took mine outside, hung them over a 6 foot ladder, and just sprayed them off with the hose. Now they look brand new. It was all just dust--the run off was dirty!

    The problem is now after 16 years the plastic parts are extremely brittle, so when I dropped one, all the plastic parts shattered like glass. I assume they do that on purpose so you have to buy new ones. The fabric is all in perfect shape.

  • Karen Eagle

    Hoovb, I would call Hunter Douglas and ask for replacement parts - if it looks doable. We had to replace the cord on 2 shades and they sent us replacement cords.

  • hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

    Thanks, Keagle!

  • rose2854

    I took mine down put them outside on a table took a sponge with dish soap like dawn and then hosed off the soap they were black as well. Then tuned it over did the other side . Let it dry and then did it again. After that I used my steamer when I was done I do not think Hunter Douglas could have done better they were like new!!

  • Donna S

    did you use the steamer when the blind was still wet or dry? Did you use the steam to release wrinkles or for another reason?

  • suzmquz

    I have Hunter Douglas Silhouette blinds all thru my house including one right next to the stove which had a huge brown stain on the lower half of it. I was about to replace it with another one that we took down.

    Watched a few youtube videos and decided to plunk it into my tub squirted some Dawn dish detergent (as I thought the brown stain might be grease) gently scrubbed it with a microfiber cloth and it came out unbelievably clean.

    I left it out to dry outside for about 20 minutes and it looks fab!! No green machine needed.

  • olgash21

    I am wondering if anyone cleaned the vertical silhouette blinds that go over the French sliding doors? I have 4 of those that are in urgent need of a good cleaning.

  • Sharon Ramer

    Bought the cheaper little green machine yesterday at walmart (79.00) and did my 20 year old silhouette blind.... I couldn't get it down, so just taped up old shower curtain liners behind it and down to the floor to protect hardwood floor... It worked GREAT!!! I just used the bottle of detergent that came with it...the return water was black!!!! They look totally brand new again! I just closed them, brushed horizontally along each panel, opened them and did a more gentle swipe again.... I'm actually glad I left them up, no risk of wrinkling them and they dried quickly! I never post in these things, but this was soooo worth it! I then used the cleaner for my stairway and it did a good job as well! Thanks to the original poster for sharing this tip!

  • elpida1954

    I also have silhouette blinds...i put them in my jacuzzi with a VERY small amount of dawn dish washing liquid. Put the jets on and let them soak a bit. I took the hand held faucet and rinsed really well...several times. Then i took them outside and laid them across the lounge chairs in my backyard which i had covered in bath towels. 30 minutes later i was reinstalling my sparkling WHITE silhouettes. Mine are 120" long and the price i was quoted was obscene.

  • airodee

    It absolutely works! I had a "trip and fall" awhile back that sent a full cup of coffee into one of my HD shades like this.

    Brought out the baby Bissell and Viola!! Done! So thrilled not to have to spend $700 to replace said blind. (Why the heck are these HD's so stinkin' expensive to begin with? It's not like rocket science goes into these things....!)

    A thousand thanks for the tip!

  • Douglas Murphy

    Well, my dirty Silhouettes brought me here and glad it did. I too could not find anyone that even cleans them in my area. They are about 10 years old and as my girlfriend calls them a vanilla color. So I go buy that Bissell Vac and did one of the blinds. To me very little improvement and a lot of work. I am taking that thing back. So then I found another sight and it had pictures to follow. Basically take the blind down, soak in the bathtub with a dash of dawn for 20 minutes. I used a big bath sponge and wiped it down on both sides. I took a piece of wood and cut it to fit between two pillars on my side porch. Then I just draped the blind over the wood. Sprayed it with the garden hose. Bam, looks brand new and better than the Bissell. Total time take down, wash, spray off, dry, 1 hour. took 2 with the Bissell and it did not look near as good. Here is a pick of the first one drying.

    Tip, no need to empty the tub and do a 2nd cleaning/rinsing as was recommended. Using the hose to rinse it does a great job. I rinsed the heck out of both sides.

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