Here's instructions for how to clean drapes and curtains of many varieties, to remove dust and soil and return them to looking great once again, without damage.
Curtains and drapes can add beauty and decoration to any room, but in addition they serve useful functions such as blocking sunlight and providing privacy. However, with time they also tend to accumulate dust and need to be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly to keep them looking their best.
Typically drapes and curtains get dusty, and that is what you're trying to clean from them to keep them looking good. Depending on how dusty your home gets you should vacuum drapes (on very low suction) using the upholstery tool, between monthly and quarterly.
Then, once or twice a year you should do a more thorough cleaning of these fabrics, which is why I have this listed as one of the annual tasks in the 31 Days of Spring Cleaning Challenge here on the site.
If you've got curtains in your bathroom or kitchen though, because of the moisture (in the bathroom) and grease (in the kitchen) in the air in these areas you may need to wash or clean those curtains or drapes more frequently.
When it's time to give your curtains and drapes a more thorough annual cleaning the first decision you've got to make is whether to wash them, or dry clean them.
Ideally this is something you should have investigated at the time you bought the curtains, or you can search the care label on the draperies or curtains to see what they say.
Please be aware that even if the majority of the fabric on the curtain is washable, sometimes they still need to be dry cleaned because some of the embellishments or trim are not washable. So always err on the side of dry cleaning if you're not sure and are not OK with accidentally ruining your curtains.
If you determine that you can wash your draperies or curtains, the next thing you need to decide is whether you will hand wash them, or whether you'll washing them in your washing machine.
Many of these fabrics are delicate and even washing on the delicate cycle may harm them, so again, read the care labels carefully before beginning this process. This is especially true for curtains that are old, and therefore may be weakened from constant exposure to sunlight, and also for those fabrics made from loose weaves, such as lace, which always need to be handled gently.
If in doubt I suggest hand washing. It isn't hard to do, such as in your bathtub, and generally the curtains are dusty but not too "dirty" and hand washing will easily remove this light soil. Use lukewarm or cool water to avoid shrinkage, and a mild laundry detergent without enzymes, such as most delicate washes.
Make sure to remove the majority of dust by vacuuming, whenever possible, before you begin to wash your curtains or drapes either in the machine or by handwashing, to keep from redepositing dust throughout the fabric.
If you do decide to machine wash, always wash on the delicate cycle, and just like with hand washing, use lukewarm or cool water and a mild detergent.
You need to be concerned with shrinkage of the fabric not only during the laundering process, but also the dryer. Tumble dry on low, or line dry to avoid any heat or abrasion at all.
Many curtains can look wrinkled after washing and drying, so care should be taken when drying to keep them flowing so they don't get crinkles and wrinkles, but if necessary and the fabric on the curtain allows it, you can lightly iron on a low setting, while the curtain is still damp.
Although these are my tips for cleaning curtains and drapes, I know other people have other methods that can also work just as well. In fact, I'd love to hear some from you.
You can submit your own cleaning tips here, or read other tips from around my website that other readers have already submitted. I'd also love for you to share your ideas in the comment section below.
Further, this article is part of my series called "How to Clean Anything, Even if You're Not June Cleaver." I hope this series will become a good resource for you, with instructions on many different cleaning projects around your home.
Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.
I update the website all the time with tips, tutorials, cleaning recipes, reviews of products from readers like you, and tests I've done on various cleaners, removers and laundry supplies.
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CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.
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