There’s nothing quite like a new set of curtains to bring almost any interior space to life. These are the kinds of simple yet effective home improvements that can make a real difference for a relatively low price.
Unfortunately, window treatments in general are not impervious to the various exposures they’re forced to contend with. Leave your curtains to their own devices and they’ll quickly lose their lustre, in turn taking a toll on the entire room.
By contrast, focus on preventative maintenance and your curtains will continue looking good as new indefinitely. Here’s how the experts advise maintaining curtains to keep them in the best possible condition long-term:
- Provide Sun Protection
- Dust Your Curtains Daily
- Vacuum Your Curtains Weekly
- Spot Clean Carefully
- Machine Wash Monthly
- Consider Steam Cleaning
- Dry Cleaning
- Hand Washing
- A Word on Curtain Fresheners…
- Tips for Maintaining Your Curtains
- Q: What’s the first thing to do before cleaning your curtains?
- Q: Is it possible to wash the curtains with other garments?
- Q: Should you or should you not tumble dry the curtains?
- Q: What’s the best tip to use when ironing curtains?
- Q: How’s the best method for caring for lace or sheer curtains?
- Q: Do sheer curtains need regular washing?
- Q: Do you wait for the sheer curtains to dry before hanging them?
- Q: Is it challenging to keep the pleats?
- Q: How should you care for the acrylic bead or shell curtains?
- Q: How difficult is it to take care of velvet curtains?
- Q: How much time should you wait between two cleanings of the curtains? Are there any exceptions?
Provide Sun Protection
Curtains may be designed to block exterior light, but this doesn’t mean they cannot and will not be damaged by long-term sun exposure. Unless there’s a barrier of some kind between your curtains and the outside, they’ll soon begin to fade and deteriorate as they’re exposed to the sun’s rays. You could therefore consider adding liners or installing blinds, bringing a further level of protection to your window dressings.
Doing so will also give you greater control over lighting and privacy, as an added bonus.
Dust Your Curtains Daily
Curtains accumulate dust at a rate that’s as alarming as it is impressive. Rather than allowing it to gradually make its way deep into the fibres of your curtains, it’s far better to give them a shake on a daily basis to loosen and remove residual dust. All of which you’ll then get rid of when you vacuum the surrounding area.
If your curtains are excessively dusty, you might want to think about taking them down and giving them a shake outdoors.
Vacuum Your Curtains Weekly
Some say you can get away with vacuuming your curtains once a month, but tending to them once a week is far better. It’s also not a particularly difficult job – simply use an appropriate tool to start at the top of your curtains and gradually work your way down. This will not only prolong the life of your curtains, but will also make for a much fresher and more enjoyable indoor environment.
Vacuuming curtains on a regular basis is even more essential for allergy sufferers and homes with pets about the place.
Spot Clean Carefully
If you notice any stains on your curtains, it’s advisable to address them sooner rather than later. Just like cleaning stains from any fabric, you’ll want to ensure you use an appropriate cleaning product that has been approved for the material in question. If in doubt, check the cleaning product on a small hidden area of the fabric first of all, in order to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage or leave marks behind.
There are specialist cleaning products available for practically every material curtains are made from – always choose these over all-purpose cleaners.
Machine Wash Monthly
If your curtains are machine washable, keeping them clean and sanitary is an absolute breeze. Simply check the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding temperatures and settings, before tossing them in the wash once a month and giving them a thorough clean. Try to avoid any particularly harsh cleaning products, opting for a gentler approach where possible.
In addition, don’t make the mistake of overloading your washing machine – heavy duty curtains can become dangerously heavy when wet.
Consider Steam Cleaning
Assuming your curtains are manufactured from a compatible material, regular steam cleaning with a handheld steam cleaner and can also make a real difference. It’s usually safe to steam clean curtains that are machine-washable, but be sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure.
Again, this can be a great way of bringing a breath of fresh air to your interiors, where there are pets and/or allergy sufferers about the place.
Some curtains are strictly dry clean only, though this doesn’t mean that other types of curtains can’t benefit from an occasional professional clean. Just be sure to check out the reputation of the dry cleaning service before you hand over your curtains – some have more reassuring track records than others.
Dry cleaning costs money, but is nonetheless a small price to pay to keep your interiors fresh and your curtains looking great.
Last but not least, curtains that cannot be machine washed or dry cleaned can usually be hand washed. Check the manufacturers’ guidelines carefully and use cool water in conjunction with an approved cleaning product, before giving your curtains plenty of time to air dry.
If the manufacturer states that hand washing should not be attempted, it’s advice you should probably follow!
A Word on Curtain Fresheners…
Fabric fresheners can be great for bringing an instant burst of freshness to your interiors. However, they don’t actually do anything to your curtains by way of cleanliness or hygiene. In fact, excessive use of products like these can actually lead to damage and deterioration, in the absence of good cleaning practices.
It’s not that curtain fresheners should be avoided entirely, but should always be used sparingly where possible.
Tips for Maintaining Your Curtains
Q: What’s the first thing to do before cleaning your curtains?
A: Curtains are made from a great variety of materials, and some of them require special maintenance. For instance, cotton and linen only allow dry cleaning. It would help if you always began taking care of your curtains by reading the label’s cleaning instructions. If you skip the step, you may put the curtains in the washing machine only to realize that they’ve shrunk or got shredded.
Shrunk drapes are useless, so always read the cleaning instructions for your curtains.
Q: Is it possible to wash the curtains with other garments?
A: Curtains that allow machine washing should always be washed without any other pieces of clothing. Keep in mind that shade of pink may easily ruin your curtains’ fantastic pale color from a pretty sock. Moreover, curtains are typically massive, so you want enough space in the washing machine for a good cleaning.
If you’re not positively sure if machine washing is safe for your curtains, you may always go back to hand wash them in some lukewarm water and mild detergent. Place the curtains in the sink or the tub for more efficiency.
Q: Should you or should you not tumble dry the curtains?
A: Ideally, you should always allow your curtains to dry naturally. As long as they have enough air, you may do it inside or outside the house.
Never fall into the temptation of tumbling dry your curtains, as you may damage even the most durable material used for a curtain. On the other hand, you should wring as much as possible out of the curtains and drip dry. For the more difficult fabrics, you may have to iron them first on low heat to lose the creases. Once again, be very careful so that you don’t burn the curtains.
Q: What’s the best tip to use when ironing curtains?
A: When you’re ironing curtains r drapes, you should roll them on the reverse side. You want to eliminate the creases as much as possible, so make sure you iron the curtains before they’re scorched. You may reattach the hooks and other decorative pieces after ironing the curtains.
Q: How’s the best method for caring for lace or sheer curtains?
A: Lace and sheer curtains require some extra caution whenever you want to wash them. You have to make sure to tumble dry lace curtains, for effective removal of dust. You should hand wash the sheer curtains or other similar fabrics that may damage easily.
Q: Do sheer curtains need regular washing?
A: Sheer curtains require washing even if they don’t seem dirty, as by the time you will notice any dirt, it will be already too late. It means that your curtains are already discolored for good.
Always be gentle when carrying for the sheer curtains. If they only feel half of the machine, wait for five minutes until they soak in some cold water. A mild detergent makes the best choice, and a whitening agent can also be used from time to time.
Use the gentle wash setting only for a couple of minutes, turning the dial for rinsing to drain the water.
Q: Do you wait for the sheer curtains to dry before hanging them?
A: Remember to put a couple of terry-cloth towel in the dryer next time you’re cleaning the sheer curtains. Set it to the no heat, but only for 3 minutes or so. With your curtains slightly damp, rehang them, pulling into shape.
If you feel like the curtains need it, you could iron the hems as the draperies/curtains are hanged. You’ll do a great job at smoothing the curtains with handheld steamer. If you don’t have one, use the vertical steam setting on your traditional steam iron.
Q: Is it challenging to keep the pleats?
A: Well-defined pleats on curtains are difficult to maintain, especially after some time. Taking care of the curtains and washing them according to the fabric instruction is essential to maintain the looks. Spritz some water and iron your curtains gently, so that you don’t rip any of the stitching. Pay attention when close to some lace, sheer fabric, or embellishments.
Q: How should you care for the acrylic bead or shell curtains?
A: Shell or bed curtains get tangled pretty straightforward, but it doesn’t mean you cannot wash them. However, you will have to do it with the curtains in place.
You may hang a bedsheet behind the curtains, fastening to the rod with some clothespins. Protect the floor with a towel.
Use two cups of warm water with 2-3 drops of dish detergent in a spray bottle, spraying the top of the curtain freely to the bottom. Get a damp white cotton washcloth for wiping the curtains clean. Allow the curtains to air dry.
Q: How difficult is it to take care of velvet curtains?
A: The maintenance tips for velvet curtains are various, as some velvet fabrics allow machine washing, whereas others will only allow dry cleaning. Always check the manufacturer’s label to see how you may clean your velvet curtains.
Most of the time, lined velvet curtains will only allow dry clean. If the velvet curtain is unlined, you have to check the colorfastness; dab a less visible area with some damp white washcloths.
Always be gentle when managing velvet curtains as you may crush the fabric otherwise. Throwing the velvet curtains in the dryer or hang them on a line is something that you should never do.
Q: How much time should you wait between two cleanings of the curtains? Are there any exceptions?
A: Ideally, you don’t want to have more than 3 to 6 months between cleanings. However, you will want to do it more often in some situations.
Curtains may collect numerous allergens, such as dust, mold spores, pet hair, dander, and pollen. If someone in your family struggles with allergies, you should clean curtains and carpets regularly.
Frequent cleaning is also necessary if family members are smokers. Smoke particles from cigars, cigarettes, and pipes will collect in your curtains rather quickly. The curtains will smell, but they will also become yellow if they’re not cleaned regularly.
Should you be living near the sea, salt may not be high for your home. The salty sea air will damage the curtains. Select hard-wearing fabrics for your home, but keep in mind to clean the curtains often too.