How to Clean Curtains at Home – Definitive Guide
- Published: May 14/2019
- Last update: Mar 17/2023
- 13min read
- Views: 478
Curtains are a fascinating feature of the home décor. They are not just mere means of keeping sunlight at bay and curious neighbours’ eyes away from your privacy. They are also a valuable home accessory. Using curtains and drapes as focal points in a room can significantly enhance your interior design. However, they are also constantly exposed to direct sunlight, with dust particles coming from both in and outdoors.
Nowadays, draperies are an expensive luxury which requires careful and methodical care. While the faded, worn look of the curtains can be a perfect excuse to redecorate your home – a practice that seems to occur more and more often these days, there are still many reasons why you should clean your curtains more frequently than you do right now.
So, here are the top ways to clean your curtains:
The frequency in which you should clean your curtains depends on many factors, including your maintenance habits of the room. For example, whether you dust them regularly if you live in a clean or dusty area, and if you’re a smoker or not. If you live near a salty water resource you’ll have to clean both windows and frames a lot more often to avoid salt accumulation and discolouring.
Depending on the material of the curtains, it may be possible to clean them in the washing machine.
This option is good for lightweight curtains, made of sturdy materials. It’s not recommended for heavy materials that retain a lot of water, because drying would be very difficult and mould can develop. Here are some tips on machine washing your curtains:
Hand washing your curtains is usually the safest option. It requires a lot more time and effort, but you avoid risks like shrinking and fabric tears in gentle materials. Here are some safety tips:
Owning a good handheld steam cleaner with a dust brush attachment will definitely help you maintain the good condition of your curtains. It’s the perfect way to clean curtains from heavy materials or ones that are difficult to take down. Here are some important points to follow:
Get satistying results without wasting effort and time!
Some formal and lined curtains can have a label that says they can be dry-cleaned only. Most of these draperies are quite expensive and if you’re worried you may ruin them, the best step is to take them to a trusted dry cleaner.
If, for some reason, dry cleaning is not an option at the moment, there are 4 things you can try to freshen up your curtains:
Some draperies are simply too big, heavy or attached in a way that makes them basically stuck to your windows until it’s time to replace them. You’ll rarely find such curtains in modern homes. If you do, however, the process of taking them down, washing, pressing, drying and re-hanging them can become a full nightmare capable to ruin your whole day. Here’s how to care for such curtains:
Here’s how to clean some of the most popular types of curtains and drapes sold on the market:
These curtains are usually made from very lightweight fabrics, which means they are prone to snagging, wrinkling and all kinds of other damage while they are wet. This is why the best cleaning method for those is to hand wash them in a sink full of cold water. As a detergent, you can use a teaspoon of liquid laundry or dish detergent. Here are the steps:
Some velvet curtains are machine washable, others are not, so you need to check the label to make sure. In general, lined velvet drapes are considered dry-clean only, so it would be safe to treat them this way.
Unlined velvet curtains need to be tested for colourfastness before you can decide if they are machine washable. Just pick a hidden area and dab it with a wet white cloth repeatedly. If the colour transfers to the cloth, then it’s best to take the curtain to a dry cleaner or use the refreshing tips provided above in the dry-clean only section.
If the fabric is colourfast, then you can machine wash it one panel at a time, using the delicate cycle, only cold water and half the usual amount of detergent.
Lined curtains are also generally considered “dry-clean only”. In some cases, you can machine wash them on a delicate cycle, but it really depends on the type of lining and how it’s attached to the main part.
Machine washing can cause irreversible wrinkles, especially if there is a middle layer in the drape (just like neckties). To stay safe, we would recommend either taking them to the dry cleaner or following the maintenance instructions in the Dry-Clean Only section.
Polyester curtains are probably the best type to have around the house because they are durable and they don’t get wrinkled easily, which means you will rarely have to iron them.
If you follow the regular maintenance tips and there are no accidents and spills, there will be no need for a deep clean. However, if it comes to that, the washing machine will do just fine. You can follow the instructions above.
Rubber or latex-backed and thermal backed curtains are the perfect choices for an energy efficient home, as they have the ability to retain heat. They can be machine washed, however, you need to remember that you can only use cold water and very small amounts of liquid laundry detergent (about half or even a third of what you would usually use).
If the drapes are coloured, it’s recommended to use an appropriately formulated detergent, because colour fastness is common in these types of curtains. Take them out of the washer as soon as the cycle is over to avoid the formation of mildew on the rubber backing. Dry and then rehang.
No matter how careful and considerate everyone in your household is, accidents happen. And sometimes these accidents can result in an unpleasant mark on your curtains that you now have to deal with.
Now, there’s no point in taking down the entire curtain for just one small stain. Instead, focus on a particular area. Here are some tips on how to easily deal with greasy stains, grubby marks and other kinds of blemishes:
Moisture and sunlight can be the cause of mould appearing on your curtains, and even though it’s quite unpleasant, it can happen to anyone. However, this not a problem you can just ignore, as the spores can be very dangerous to your health.
Before using any kind of cleaning products, it’s better to carefully brush away the mould from the fabric with a kitchen sponge and vacuuming it. If the fungi’s grip on the fabric is not that strong, you may be able to suck it from the fibres and ease your work a little.
After that, you can apply an appropriate solution to pre-treat the stains. There are many options in the stores, or you can alternatively try a mixture of one part bleach and five parts water. Pour it in a spray bottle and apply on the affected areas from a distance around 20cm, to avoid whitening the fabric. Of course, it would be wise to test the solution on a hidden spot somewhere, to make sure the fabric can handle it.
Machine wash the drapes on a low temperature (lower than 40C), and add a cup of baking soda to the laundry detergent, to remove the unpleasant smell efficiently. Then hang the curtains outside, if possible. Avoid dryers, because they can shrink the fabric.
There are a few things you can include in your regular housekeeping routine that will keep your drapes clean for a longer period:
Weekly: Before cleaning the room, shake the curtains very well, to dislodge the dust settled in there. Then wait 10-15 minutes for the dust to settle before proceeding to dust the furniture and vacuum the floor.
Monthly: Once a month you can take out the dust brush attachment of the vacuum cleaner and use it to vacuum the curtains from top to bottom. Pay extra attention to the top 10-20cm, as this is where most of the dust gathers. If vacuuming is not an option, you can put them in the dryer for 5 minutes on the fluff setting. Just remember to take them out right away, or wrinkles will appear.
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Do you have your own experience with cleaning curtains?
Don’t hesitate to share it with us in the comments below!