Curtain cleaning methods and products: a guide

Cleaning your curtains is easy once you know how! Here are easy tips on curtain cleaning at home – from steam clean to washing machine.

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curtain cleaning methods and products: a guide

Key steps:

  1. Regular maintenance: make vacuuming your curtains part of your normal cleaning routine. Use the soft brush attachment to remove everyday dust and dirt.
  2. Lightweight curtains: can be cleaned in the washing machine.
  3. Curtains made of delicate materials: should be hand washed to reduce the risk of shrinking.
  4. Curtains made from heavy fabric: can be steam cleaned, in order to avoid a lengthy drying process.

Curtains tend to absorb smells from around the home, such as cooking aromas and cigarette smoke, which can leave the curtains smelling less than fresh and cause slight discolouration.

Curtain cleaning doesn’t have to be difficult, there are several easy ways to clean your curtains, and different curtain cleaners you can use. Here’s a quick, simple guide to the options available.

When hand washing curtains, use a mild laundry detergent. Be sure to wear rubber gloves if you have sensitive or damaged skin.

Option 1: Cleaning Curtains in the Washing Machine

Depending on the material of your curtains, you may be able to clean them simply by putting them in the washing machine:

  • If your washing machine has a delicate cycle, be sure to use it; otherwise, choose a cool wash with a slow spin.
  • Use your normal laundry detergent.
  • If you are particularly worried about the material shrinking, don’t risk putting the curtains in the washing machine, and hand wash instead.

When to clean curtains in the washing machine: This option works best with lightweight curtains rather than with heavy materials that will retain water. However, keep in mind that some materials need special attention when being put in a washing machine – for instance, delicate cottons can shrink in hot washes. Be sure to check the label on your curtains before laundering them.

Option 2: Hand Wash Curtains

Hand washing curtains can sometimes be the safer option:

  • Either use your regular laundry detergent, or a soap specifically designed for hand washing delicates. It’s best to choose a gentle soap to avoid damage to the material.
  • Follow the instructions on your chosen product to hand wash – different products will require different concentrations.

When to hand wash curtains: Hand washing curtains is a bigger chore than simply putting them in the washing machine, but it does reduce the risk of shrinking, and it’s a good choice for delicate materials such as 100 percent cotton. It’s best not to hand wash very heavy materials simply because it’s difficult to remove all the water, prolonging the drying time.

Option 3: Steam Cleaning Curtains 

Using a good quality steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment is one of the most convenient methods of curtain cleaning.

  1. Be sure to start from the top and work your way down the curtain.
  2. If you notice that the material is becoming wet, hold the appliance further away from the curtain.
  3. Be careful when using a steam cleaner: always read the manufacturer’s instructions before you begin, and remember that steam can burn you ­– so ensure you wear appropriate protective clothing.

When to use a steam cleaner for curtain cleaning: Steam cleaning curtains is an excellent choice for curtains made from very heavy materials or for curtains that are particularly difficult to take down from the rail.

What is the Best Way to Dry Curtains?

Don’t be tempted to put wet curtains into the dryer. The tumbling motion can cause stubborn creases to appear that not even a hot iron can remove. The best way to dry curtains is to hang them outside, away from direct sunlight to avoid bleaching, and in a breezy place if possible. Letting curtains dry naturally in a hanging position allows the creases to fall out, and a quick iron afterwards will have them looking like new.

Voila! Your newly cleaned curtains offer a brighter, fresher home both inside and out.

Originally published