Silhouette Blind Cleaning
Regular cleaning of Hunter Douglas Silhouettes® by a competent professional will extend the life and enjoyment of these finewindow treatments. Over time the fabric of a Silhouette will accumulate airborne pollutants, dust, candle soot and grime that dull its appearance. Neglected spots may set into permanent stains. An amazing amount of dirt can be removed from even "white" Silhouettes® that "don't look like they need cleaning".
Proper handling and professional cleaning techniques are important in protecting the investment you've made in these shades. Hunter Douglas recommends deep cleaning using either of the two methods described below. Become an informed consumer and use the link provided to request a free quote from a professional blind cleaner that services your area. They will be happy to answer your questions. Cleaning prevents premature replacement for those who wish to enjoy their Silhouettes for years to come. If either attempting to clean these yourself or if using services done by an incompetent cleaner may result in irreparable damage and result in your having to pay $$ for replacements.
A true On-Site Certified Technician or a Certified Fabricare Specialist is someone who has made a significant investment in both the specialized training and equipment necessary to properly clean Silhouettes on location. Hunter Douglas recommends using Certified technicians (if using this method of cleaning). The cleaning technicians who have undergone the training to become Certified Fabricare Specialists have been instructed in the proper* techniques for cleaning of a Silhouette using an injection/extraction cleaning method. Until December of 2008 the On-Site Corporation offered a Hunter Douglas recognized training program and certification for "On-Site Certified Technicians".
Technician using this method will in most situations clean a Silhouette® right where it hangs. Typically, the technician protects the area behind the window treatment with plastic before using a small machine to spray on a special cleaning solution which is immediately vacuumed off. The Silhouette® is dry in a very short time. Though the competence and experience of individual technicians will vary, one can be assured that these individuals have been professionally trained and have access to ongoing professional development from a national organization supported by Squibco Solutions Inc.
* If a company advertises "on site cleaning " it does not necessarily mean that their technicians have training in the proper handling and cleaning techniques. Certified technicians are taught the proper techniques, temperatures and chemistries to use for this cleaning method. Credentials of a blind cleaner advertising as "On-Site Certified" or as a "Certified Fabricare Specialist" should be verified if you value professional training. Unfortunately there are some blind cleaners and web sites who unethically claim training and qualifications their workers do not actually posses. The damage done to an improperly cleaned Silhouette can not be cheaply remedied. The cheapest "service" may be a disservice.
Ultrasonic cleaning harnesses the power of sound waves and scrubbing action of exploding microscopic air bubbles they produce in the cleaning solution to gently yet thoroughly clean a Silhouette®. The Silhouette® is removed from the window, transported to the ultrasonic machine, cleaned and hung to dry and then returned to its place (or rehung to dry if cleaning is done on location).
As individual ultrasonic cleaners use different machines, chemicals and techniques, Hunter Douglas recommends that you exercise due care in choosing a cleaner. A Silhouette® may be damaged through improper hanging, handling, cleaning or drying, it is wise to ask a few questions of your prospective cleaner. Some ultrasonic cleaners have their blind cleaning machines in a shop location while others are mobile operations using specially equipped trucks or trailers, allowing them to bring the service right to your driveway. Currently professionals in the Blindcleaners Network are working toward a formal certified cleaning program recognized by Hunter Douglas for ultrasonic cleaners. A few ultrasonic blind cleaning companies advertise various "Certifications" usually containing the word "ultrasonic" or "blind cleaners" either on their web sites or in their materials. These are either endorsements issued by the company from whom they purchased their blind cleaner or received some training or in some cases misleading claims using the names of long defunct organizations.
Common Cleaning Questions:
Will cleaning make any holes worse? No, if handled with proper care, any holes will remain as they were before cleaning. During inspection before cleaning, finding holes from window handles, cranks etc., especially on the back sheer by the bottom rail are not uncommon. If center fabric vanes are separating or coming apart as a result of a glue line or lamination problem then cleaning is NOT recommended! (See photo below - right)
Will cleaning remove puckering or glue line wrinkles? Over time some puckering of the face sheer is not uncommon, especially in wider Silhouettes®. Excess heat, improper handling during cleaning or use of the wrong chemicals (in spot removal) can result in puckering or make it worse. A knowledgeable professional blind cleaner will know how to minimize puckering, remove minor creases and keep your Silhouettes looking presentable for many years.
Can paint spots be removed? Sometimes. A knowledgeable professional blind cleaner will be able to remove (partially or fully) some types of paint, especially if it is fresh and not in the fabric of the floating vanes. Sometimes enough paint can be removed to make the spot less noticeable. Fresh water based paint spots should be dabbed off with plenty of plain water, taking care not to spread the spot. Call a professional blind cleaner immediately and DO NOT try to remove the paint with common solvents or damage may be done that can not be reversed.
Can the room darkening Silhouettes® be cleaned? Yes, however they must be done with different procedures - whether done using the On-Site method or by an ultrasonic cleaner. Cleaning a room darkening Silhouette® ultrasonically may ruin it or drastically shorten it's life span. (It also voids the manufacturer's warranty.) When the vanes are closed flat, if you can not see the skin tones of your hand placed behind the shade you probably have a Bon Soir Silhouette®. Sometimes you can see the sticker inside the header of the blind on the right side and on the line right under the order number you'll usually find the fabric code and digits for the color. The sticker pictured here was NOT one of the Bon Soir fabrics as its code was A1.
The shade on the right was wet cleaned and the layers delaminated and separated - not to mention a few unsightly "holes" in the room darkening layer. (One of three blinds in a master bedroom ruined by an "experienced" blind cleaner doing something he didn't know enough about unfortunately.)
How Do I Remove Silhouettes®?
Pictured from left to right are the three types of brackets Hunter Douglas has used over the years for these blinds.
The oldest one (typically 6+ years old), on the left requires the careful use of a medium sized standard screw driver to gently push up the center tab. Roll the shade down enough to gain easy access to slip the head of the screw driver into the center section of the bracket without rubbing or scraping the face fabric. Push and twist gently with the screw driver to loosen the bracket. After loosening all brackets firmly grab the headrail and pull straight out. If the center tab is cracked or broken replace the bracket using one of the newer styles.
With the bracket pictured in the center (typically blinds 1-6 years old) one may grasp the headrail firmly, pushing the clear plastic tab (if it is visible and not broken off) up slightly with your thumb while pulling the blind straight out. On larger blinds work across the blind from one side - pulling just enough to loosen each bracket - then center your grip on the blind to pull it off the brackets without loosing control of it in the process.
The newest bracket just came out this past year. The clear lever sticks out over the edge of the headrail and is on the right side when locked. To unlock it simply flip it to the left and then remove the shade by pulling it straight out while you have a firm grip on it.
Removing Silhouettes® is OFTEN not as simple as this sounds. Broken brackets are easily replaced IF you have a new bracket handy. The information here is simply an introduction to aid those who may wish to remove their shade to take to a blind cleaner. Some blind cleaners also use this site as a reference for their clients.
.Please feel free to contact our network of professional blind cleaners regarding any other questions you may have regarding the cleaning of a Silhouette® or other custom window treatments. Both of the cleaning methods mentioned above, when properly executed are effective. Preferences (and prejudices) of individual blind cleaners vary based upon their training, experience and equipment. As some cleaners either do not clean Silhouettes® or know how to properly do so, don't be shy - ask a few questions before hiring a blind cleaner!
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