Learn how to clean curtains! Curtains are among the most delicate fabric-made items in your home. They require special care to keep them free from dust, dirt, stain, creases, wrinkles, and more. Made from different materials, one cleaning procedure might work for one but not for the other. Thus, the very first thing you should do is check the label for care instructions.
How To Clean Curtains With Washing
The best way to deep clean your curtain is through washing. Keep in mind that some curtains require hand-washing only, while others can be machine-washed and hand-washed.
Before you start, always check if your curtain still has a tag with laundry symbols. This will guide you how to best wash your type of fabric.
Step 1 - Preparation
The effectiveness of cleaning and maintaining your curtain’s quality begins with proper preparation. That is by removing dust and any loose dirt that accumulated throughout the period of usage. There are two easy ways to do so, namely:
A. Shaking Off
- Take the curtain down, one at a time, by carefully sliding the curtain towards one end of the rod.
- Next, detach any rings or hooks, and untie any cords.
- Once done, remember not to crumple your curtain. Rather, fold it into half so that you can neatly and easily bring it outdoors.
- When you’re already outside, shake off the curtain with care by holding one side. This is best done by two individuals so that each one holds one end. If not, just make sure the curtain doesn’t touch the ground to prevent any dirt from clinging to it or the curtain touching any objects that can stain or put a hole in it.
- Then, fold the curtain neatly into a size that you can easily carry later on to the washing area.
- Repeat the procedure with all the remaining curtains you need to wash.
B. Vacuuming or Brushing
If your curtains have been hanging for a long time without regular cleaning, using a vacuum cleaner is the best way to remove dust or any loose dirt. This is also perfect for when you want to clean your curtains without taking them down.
For this, you would need a vacuum cleaner with its soft brush attachment. If you don’t have one, you can use a soft brush or lint brush.
Here are the steps you need to follow:
- Remove any cords or items that can be caught up by the vacuum cleaner.
- Set to the lowest setting to ensure the vacuum’s nozzle doesn’t suck the fabric in. You can also consider securing an old piece of nylon stocking over the cleaner’s nozzle with the help of a rubber band. Otherwise, you can place a stiff plastic screen between your curtain and the vacuum’s nozzle.
- Start sweeping the brush from top to bottom and from left to right or right to left, whichever is convenient for you. Make sure not to go back to the same area to prevent transferring any dirt to the already cleaned parts.
- Once done, you can take down your curtain (follow steps 1 and 2, then 5 and 6 in the shaking off technique)
Step 2 - Washing
A. How to Clean Curtains Using a Machine
If your curtain’s care label says you can machine wash it, here’s what you need to do:
- Fill your washer with either cold or lukewarm water, depending on instructions.
- Add the right amount of mild liquid or powder detergent.
- Place just enough curtains in the washer, usually two panels at a time. Set the wash cycle to a delicate or slow spin, the timer from two to three minutes, depending on care instructions or curtain thickness, and dry to the lowest number.
- Proceed to Step #3.
B. How to Clean Curtains By Hand or Manually
Different types of hand-wash-only curtains require different washing techniques. Ensure you follow the guidelines below without disregarding the curtain’s label.
For your unlined curtains and machine-washable ones that you prefer to hand-wash, follow these steps:
- Fill your sink, large basin, or bathtub, whichever you prefer to use for washing, with enough cold or lukewarm water.
- Soak the curtain for at least 10 minutes but not exceeding 15 minutes. Then, gently swish the curtain for 30 to 60 seconds to loosen any remaining dirt.
- Drain the water and squeeze the water out from the curtain without wringing.
- Refill with clean water or transfer the curtain to another basin that already has clean water. Add the required amount of mild liquid or powder detergent.
- Hand wash the curtain and then rinse.
- Squeeze excess water out without wringing.
- Proceed to Step #3.
BLACKOUT OR THERMAL
These curtains have a delicate acrylic layer or coating at the back. The washing procedure is similar to unlined curtains but with careful attention to its coating.
Make sure you prevent the coating from sticking to itself or folding. You must also make sure you don’t expose it to any form of heat. Otherwise, the coating can start to peel off or fade, reducing or removing the curtain's thermal or blackout properties. When hanging to dry, ensure the coated side doesn't face the direction where sunlight can pass through.
SHEER OR VOILE, NET AND LACE
These curtains are the thinnest and most delicate types. Washing them incorrectly can loosen the threads, put holes, tears, and scratches, and completely damage the fabric. The recommended procedure below can also be used for silk curtains that can be hand-washed.
- Carefully place the curtain in a mesh bag.
- Fill your basin, sink, or tub with enough cold water and add mild liquid or powder detergent.
- Submerge one panel for about 10 minutes. Then, grab one end of the mesh and give it a gentle swirl. Do the same for the other panels.
- Drain and then refill with clean cold water.
- Carefully rinse the curtains until all the detergent comes off.
- In a separate basin or sink, place enough cold water and dissolve a cup of Epsom salt. Soak your freshly washed curtains for 10 minutes. This step is optional, but it can restore your curtain’s crispness.
- Drain and then squeeze the excess water out of the curtain without wringing.
- Proceed to Step #3.
Further Reading: How to Wash Lace
Step 3 - Drying curtains
You can dry your machine-washed curtains using the tumble dryer or manually. However, you should only air or manually dry your hand-washed curtains.
A. How to Clean Curtains Using a Dryer
- Transfer the washed and/or spun curtains to the dryer.
- Set to the lowest temperature and required time.
- Remove the curtains from the dryer and shake them off to straighten them.
- Proceed to Step #4.
B. How to Clean Curtains Via Air or Manually
- After removing the curtain from the washer, attach its hooks or rings.
- Hang it in a shady area since sunlight can cause fading, damages, and shortening their lifespan. Also, make sure the edge doesn’t touch the ground.
- Slowly tug the end of the curtain to stretch it a bit, preventing wrinkles and creases that can form once fully dried.
- Proceed to Step #4.
Step 4 - Remove Creases and Wrinkles
Generally, you can iron curtains made of polyester or polyester-cotton blend. Just make sure you follow the manufacturer’s temperature setting recommendation.
You can use the pressing technique for delicate materials prone to wrinkles and creases, such as sheer. To do so, place the curtain on a flat surface or an iron board with the reverse side facing upwards. Then, gently press a cool iron on each area.
If you have a garment steamer, you can use it to remove creases and wrinkles once you’ve rehung your curtains. You can only use this technique for machine-washable curtains requiring ironing and pressing.
For this technique, turn the steamer on; the setting will depend on how thick or thin your curtain is. Hold it at least eight inches away from the curtain, and then run it from top to bottom.
Step 5 - Hanging or Storing Curtains
Since you’ve dried out your curtains with their hooks or rings, all you have to do is rehang them back in their designated curtain rods. However, make sure the rods are also clean, as well as your windows and window sills and frames.
If you won’t rehang them since you’ve already placed new curtains, proceed to step #6. Then, once done, remove the hooks and rings and carefully fold your curtains. It’s best to place each curtain in a clean storage bag or plastic with vents before placing them in your closet or drawer.
Step 6 - Spot Clean or Stain Removal
The next thing you need to do is inspect the curtains if there are any stains left. If there are, do the following:
A. Silk, Wool, or Acetate
Wet a clean sponge with water and another sponge with white vinegar. Blot the stain with the water-wet sponge, followed by the vinegar-wet sponge. Repeat until the stain is gone.
B. Other Fabric
Follow the same procedure as above but use 70% rubbing alcohol instead of white vinegar.
How To Clean Curtains Without Washing
Some curtains can shrink and have a shorter lifespan when washed. Several options are available, and you must use the one recommended by the manufacturer. You can also opt for these techniques for washable and non-removable curtains. They’re also perfect at times when you don’t want to go through the hassles of taking down, washing, and drying your curtains.
- Spot Cleaning
For the first three techniques, follow each procedure discussed above. However, to ensure you remove unwanted odor, you must spray the curtain with a fabric freshener spray or wipe it off with a fabric softener sheet prior to air drying it.
How to Clean Curtains with Dry Cleaning
Lined, velvet, some silk curtains, and curtains with stitched-in pleats, swags, and ornaments usually require dry cleaning only. Sometimes, you can identify these materials because of their colorfastness. They’re best brought to a professional dry cleaning company than attempting to deep or dry clean them yourself.
How to clean Curtains - In Conclusion
Used curtains harbor allergens, dirt, and unwanted odor, so you must clean them at least once a year by following the right technique recommended by the manufacturer. Usually, it will be a choice between washing and dry cleaning.
For you not to have a hard time deep cleaning them and ensure cleanliness, it’s best to clean them once a week using steam for washable fabric or a lint brush for dry-clean-only materials, or a vacuum for both. Then, spray or wipe them with mild fabric softener products. Lastly, you must not expose your curtains to direct sunlight, high temperature, and harsh chemicals.