Even if your curtains don’t look dirty, knowing how to clean curtains and making it part of your cleaning routine will go a long way to helping your home stay clean.
Most curtains, whether they’re casual cotton or fancier damask, are made of woven fabrics that gather dust, pet hair and dander, even mold spores. Over time, these things accumulate and begin to make your window treatments look dingy.
That accumulation can also drastically affect your indoor air quality. Every time the curtains are opened or closed, every time a pet or person brushes against them, the dust and other debris gets disturbed and begins swirling around in your home. You’ll find that debris settling on your furniture as well as your carpet, where every step stirs it up again.
For allergy sufferers, cleaning curtains regularly will provide significant relief to indoor allergy symptoms.
Since cleaning methods vary based on your curtain material, it’s important to identify what yours are made of before proceeding. If you are unsure, stick to the maintenance cleaning instructions to avoid permanent damage.
How To Clean Curtains Seasonally
If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned yours (or you’ve never done it), start with a seasonal cleaning then keep up with the maintenance cleanings, and you’ll be shocked at how much less dust you see flying around.
Garment Fabric Curtains
Remove all hardware. Shake outdoors if possible. Wash two panels at a time on the delicate cycle using the cold setting. Dry on a low-heat setting. Immediately remove from the dryer to prevent wrinkles and rehang.
Sheer Fabric or Lace Curtains
The lightweight fabric of these curtains makes them prone to wrinkling and snagging when they’re wet. For that reason, it’s best to hand wash them in a sink filled with cold water and 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent. Wash one panel at a time by submerging it in the soapy water for 10 minutes then swirling to loosen debris. Drain, refill the sink with cold water and swirl the panel again to remove soap residue.
Tip: To restore a crisp feel to sheer or lace curtains, dissolve 1 cup of Epsom salt in a sink full of cold water. Submerge freshly-washed curtains for 10 minutes. Drain, gently press out any water but do not rinse. Let the curtains drip dry from your shower rod or laundry line and hang them once fully dry.
Acrylic Bead or Shell Curtains
The design of these curtains makes them prone to tangling whenever they’re taken down so you’ll need to wash them in place.
The easiest way to do this is by hanging a bed sheet behind them (loop it over the curtain rod and use clothes pins to fasten it in place). Lay towels on the floor beneath the curtain. Fill a spray bottle with warm water and 2-3 drops of liquid dish detergent and liberally spray the curtain top to bottom. Wipe them clean with a damp white cotton washcloth, lightly rubbing heavily soiled areas as needed. Let dry and remove the bed sheet backdrop.
Some velvet curtains are machine washable while others require dry cleaning. Check the manufacturer’s label to find out which yours are. In general, lined velvet curtains should be treated as Dry Clean Only, while unlined velvet curtain panels can be washed one panel at a time on the delicate cycle using cold water. Velvet curtains should be laid flat on a cotton sheet to dry, and never placed in the dryer.
Dry Clean Only Curtains
Formal or lined curtains may have a label saying they should be Dry Cleaned Only. If they’re expensive or you’re concerned about ruining them, by all means take them to a trusted dry cleaner!
If they’re old and you’ve been thinking about replacing them because they’re so dingy looking, you can try washing them to see if there’s any improvement but know that washing may ruin them, so you’re assuming the risk.
That said if you decide to wash Dry Clean Only curtains, do so one panel at a time in the machine on the gentle cycle using cold water. Remove them from the machine immediately to keep the lining from wrinkling then hang them on a laundry line or lay them flat to dry. Do NOT dry them in the dryer or the liner will most likely shrink.
How To Clean Curtains Monthly
Keep your curtains in good shape between seasonal, deep cleanings with the following steps.
Weekly: before cleaning a room, give the curtains a good shake to dislodge dust. Wait 10 minutes for the dust to settle before dusting furniture and vacuuming the floor. Now you’ve removed dust from the curtains and kept it from returning to them every time someone walks through the room.
Monthly: Once a month use the dust brush attachment on your vacuum to clean curtains from top to bottom, paying extra attention to the top 5 inches where the majority of dust accumulates. Do NOT use the upholstery attachment since its teeth may snag the fabric and destroy your curtains.
Monthly alternative: If vacuuming isn’t an option, you can also remove dust from curtains by running them through the dryer on a “no heat” (or fluff) setting for 10 minutes. Remove promptly and rehang to prevent wrinkles.
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