How to Clean Your Curtains

Keeping your curtains free of dirt, mould, and dust is extremely important for your health, and to keep your house hygienic and smelling fresh. Your curtains may not look dirty, but they still can be a host to allergens and debris, so clean them regularly to stay on top of maintaining your healthy home.

Curtains are often delicate and can be easily damaged in the cleaning process so ensure you are doing what’s right for your curtains by strictly adhering to the label directions or consulting a professional if in doubt.

Before You Start:

  • Use a vacuum on a low setting with a soft brush attachment to remove excess dirt and dust, as well as lint. You can also use a lint roller or brush if you do not have the specific vacuum head
  • Remove your curtains and remove all the hooks and rings. For pencil pleats, untie their cords and unfold the pleats prior to soaking or washing
  • Always read the label and clean and dry as directed
  • Shake your curtains outside before getting them wet. Curtains can be a host to dirt, dust, mould and mildew, and the less you can prevent the spread inside your home the better
  • In most cases of washing curtains at home, hand-washing is the safest bet to keep your curtains intact. To hand-wash you will need a large tub - ideally a bathtub

Remember:

  • Never bleach your curtain
  • The gentler you can be, the longer your curtains will last. Mild washing powders and detergents, delicate wash cycles and methods, line-drying, and keeping reactive fabrics out of the sun while drying will preserve your curtains for longer.
  • Do not tumble-dry your curtains
  • If your curtains are anything but cotton, do not let them fold on themselves while drying as they can stick together and disintegrate when pulled apart.If in doubt, consult a professional – such as your local dry cleaners

Machine Washing Your Curtains

Only machine wash if the curtains specifically say they can be on the label. Linens and some cotton blends are sometimes able to be able to go through a delicate machine wash.

Hand-washing is safer to preserve your curtain fabrics for longer and to avoid snagging.

If machine washing, put your machine on a gentle cycle with cool or lukewarm water (as directed) and use a mild washing detergent or washing powder.

Curtain fabrics you should NOT put in a washing machine unless otherwise specified:

  • Thermal Curtains [Hand-wash only]
  • Net Curtains, Voile Curtains, Sheer Curtains [Hand-wash only]
  • Silk Curtains [Dry-clean]
  • Velvet Curtains [Dry-clean]
  • Curtains lined with two different types of fabric [Hand-wash only]

How to Wash Lined Curtains

Lined curtains often have a polyester lining, or a blend of cotton and polyester lining, that is sewn to the back of the curtain. Different fabrics mean you must accommodate for the most delicate fabric.

To Prepare

Soak in cold water for 10-15 minutes prior to washing, and then give the curtains a gentle swish around for 30 – 60 seconds to loosen dirt from curtains making the washing process more efficient. Drain water and then begin the washing process.

To Wash

To be safe, take your lined curtains to a dry cleaner. This will help prevent one side of your curtain shrinking and permanently bunching your curtain up.

If washing your lined curtains yourself, there is a risk of one side of your curtain shrinking. To minimise the risk, remove the linings from one another (if possible) and hand-wash both sides in cold water separately with a mild laundry detergent or powder. 

To Dry

To avoid shrinkage, avoid heat during the washing and drying process. If cleaning yourself then (if possible) keep the lining separate to the other side of the curtain during the drying process. Squeeze water out but do not wring. Do not tumble dry. Avoid using pegs to hang on the line. To avoid fading and to minimise wrinkling, the best practice is to hang curtains back on their hooks outside in the shade to dry.

Before Hanging

Once dry, you can iron your curtains on a low heat prior to hanging if they are made with cotton or a cotton-polyester blend.

How to Wash Unlined Curtains

Unlined curtains have no lining sewn in. Because of this they are hardier, and lower maintenance when it comes to washing (and also tend to stay cleaner as there are no added places for dust to get trapped in).

To Prepare

Soak in cold water for 10-15 minutes prior to washing, and then give the curtains a gentle swish around for 30 – 60 seconds to loosen dirt from curtains making the washing process more efficient. Drain water and then begin the washing process.

To Wash

Abide by the label, but a gentle machine wash on a cold cycle, using a gentle washing powder or detergent is usually recommended as it is less time consuming.

Hand-washing your unlined curtains: However, as previously mentioned, the least damaging way to wash curtains is to hand-wash them, and unlined curtains are no exception. Hand-wash in cold water with a mild detergent to minimise wear and tear.

Steam clean your unlined curtains: Steam cleaning has the effect of using heat to dislodge dirt and dust, as well as mould. Depending on your steam cleaning tool, you may not even have to remove your curtains off the rail to clean them!

To Dry

Squeeze water out but do not wring. Do not tumble dry. Avoid using pegs to hang on the line. To avoid fading and to minimise wrinkling, the best practice is to hang curtains back on their hooks outside in the shade to dry.

Pre-hanging: As long as the curtains are made with cotton or polyester, you can iron on a low heat prior to hanging.

How to Wash Thermal and Blackout Curtains

Both of these curtain types have an acrylic layer which is heat sealed to the back of the curtain. The acrylic coating is delicate and can be easily broken down without the correct care.

To Wash

Hand-wash in cold water with a mild laundry detergent or powder.

Avoid the acrylic coat folding over and sticking to itself, as when it unsticks the coating may peel off and lessen the effect of the thermal/ black out curtains, as well as looking faded and unsightly.

To Dry

Do not wring out. Line dry in the shade from hooks. Again, do not allow the acrylic backing to stick to itself.

A Tip

Avoid heat on the acrylic as you don’t want it to melt. This includes any sort of ironing, so hang them out straight to dry so they dry with as few wrinkles as possible.

How to Wash Net Curtains, Voile Curtains, and Sheer Curtains

These curtains are usually made with fine, delicate fabrics to let light into a room. As they are often light in colour, they can be prone to showing up dirt and dust more than the other curtains.

To Prepare

Soak in cold water for 10-15 minutes prior to washing, and then give the curtains a gentle swish around for 30 – 60 seconds to loosen dirt from curtains making the washing process more efficient. Drain water and then begin the washing process.

To Wash

To avoid the delicate fabrics tearing in the washing machine, hand-wash with cold water and a mild washing powder or detergent.

To Dry

Squeeze water out but do not wring. Do not tumble dry. Avoid using pegs to hang on the line. To avoid fading and to minimise wrinkling, the best practice is to hang curtains back on their hooks and dry outside in the shade to dry.


How to Clean Heavily Soiled Curtains or Mouldy Curtain

Steam Cleaning

If the fabric of your curtain allows for heat (e.g. cotton, cotton/polyester, linen) then you may be able to steam clean your curtains. The heat from the steam can  dislodge dirt and allergens, and sanitise your curtains by killing germs, bacteria, and mould. 

Brushing

If you have hardy or heavy-duty curtains that can be machine-washed, then brushing may be an option. Test-patch before you do the whole fabric first to ensure your curtains won’t break down or fade.

After soaking your curtains in cold water for 10-15 minutes, use a medium to hard-bristled brush to lightly scrub the soiled or mouldy areas. Use a little diluted mild washing powder to create some suds and work into the stained or mouldy areas. Rinse the curtains off. Wash and dry as directed.

Tip: It is best to do this outside and with a mask covering your nose and mouth to avoid mould spores landing in your lungs elsewhere in your home.

Take Your Curtains to a Professional

If in doubt, take your curtains to a local dry-cleaner who can safely remove mould and clean your curtains for you with minimal to no damage to your curtain’s fabric. If your curtains are made of delicate fabric, cleaning them yourself could damage them, or they are heavily soiled or mouldy then dry cleaning may be the best option for you.

Cleaning curtains can seem like a daunting task, but washing the curtains in your house or holiday home can really freshen up your house, and create a healthier, happier home.

Contact us for more information on cleaning your curtains and your home.

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