The problem with bamboo / matchstick / grass blinds

Ever since we saw this house and decided to buy it, I always dreamed of hanging bamboo blinds on the living room and dining room windows. I also thought that bamboo blinds would look great in my office/study. Bamboo blinds are elegant, environment-friendly and they come in so many designs and shades. Little did I know that we’d be facing mold and mildew problems within weeks of putting up the blinds. bamboo blinds

It’s not so bad with the bamboo blinds in my study where the mold infestation was minimal (that’s a real butterfly, by the way). But, downstairs in the living room and dining area, it was bad. The photo below shows the panel on the dining area window on the day it was installed. It doesn’t look that clean anymore. After molds started infesting the blinds, there are obvious dark spots. grass blinds

I must note though that the blinds downstairs are of a different material — grass, not bamboo. The rains have really done a job on them.

The question, of course, is whether this is something natural and unavoidable. Are mold and mildew the price to pay for having beautiful natural blinds that are supposed to be almost maintenance free?

I think our first mistake was in buying ready-made blinds from China. They were so inexpensive, there were a lot of designs to choose from and, more importantly, they provided instant gratification. Custom-made blinds could take weeks to order and install. Meanwhile, we had solid wood furniture that was taking a beating from the hot afternoon sun. We needed blinds — fast. The thing is, within a week of putting them up, the rains began. It didn’t take long before we notice the moldy spots.

So, what lesson have I learned from all this?

First, ask the manufacturer/seller if the bamboo/grass blinds have been pre-treated with sealants and fungicide to minimize mold and mildew infestation. Check the labels too.

Second, don’t be such a cheapskate. With local custom-made blinds, should anything go wrong, you can run after the manufacturer. With these made-in-China versions, whom will you run after for product warranty?

Third, don’t panic. There is a solution for every problem. Australian green advocate Alan Hayes says, “Bamboo blinds should be washed with a solution of a quarter of a cup of salt, one tablespoon bicarbonate soda and one litre of water. Rinse clean, dry, and rub lightly with raw linseed oil.” He also says that should be combined with efforts to control dampness in the house which is not easy in an area where humidity is high for most part of the year.

Well, Hayes’ solution is still worth a try. If the mold and mildew problem recurs, I’ll consider custom-made bamboo blinds. Locally manufactured. With a manufacturer that I can sue should something go wrong.