How to Clean Curtains
By Steve Gillman
The following steps will work to clean most types of curtains
and drapes. But be sure to read the the care instructions if
there are any tags. Some materials cannot be washed at home by
yourself, and should be handled by a professional.
Start by assessing whether the curtains are worth cleaning.
If they have been up for many years they might be sun-rotted.
This is especially likely if they are heavy drapes with a white
backing. If there are any tears that aren't from known causes,
the thinner materials could be ready to fall apart as well. It
might be time to buy new curtains rather than clean the old ones.
If they are still good curtains, here is how to clean them:
1. Vacuum them using a soft brush attachment. This may be
all the cleaning they need, or you can alternate this with more
thorough cleanings. Be sure to vacuum the top of the curtains
and valences, where the dust collects in heavier concentrations.
If you are doing general house cleaning, do the curtains first,
so the dust you knock loose will be later vacuumed off the floor.
2. Wash unlined curtains according to label instructions.
If there are no labels, wash in cold water on a gentle cycle.
If the panels are too large for your washing machine they can
be hand washed will a little laundry soap in the bathtub.
3. Get lined curtains professionally dry-cleaned. Pleated
drapes should also be cleaned by a professional.
4. The dryer will work for most materials (but again, read
the label). Use a low heat setting. If your washing machine sins
out sufficient water so there is no dripping, some curtains can
be hung back up to dry in place.
If you vacuum curtains at least once monthly a full cleaning
and washing may not be necessary more than once per year if nobody
in the home smokes. If you or others in the house smoke, buy
curtains that will not show the yellowing as much and clean them
If the curtains are on metal rings, you can rub a bar of soap
on the curtain rod to make them slide more easily. Old and rusty
rings can be made to shine again by boiling them in vinegar.
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