How to clean your curtains

Professional drapery cleaning can add up fast when many cleaners charge by the pleat to steam- or dry-clean curtains. Here are some tricks for cleaning curtains yourself.

How to clean your curtains

Dust them regularly

Don't bother taking the curtains down; dust or vacuum them where they hang.

  • Vacuum dust away. Simply run your vacuum cleaner over your curtains, from top to bottom, using the dusting brush or upholstery attachment.
  • Protect the fabric. Avoid sucking the fabric into the vacuum nozzle by either reducing the vacuum pressure or grasping the bottom and holding the curtains tight.
  • Avoid a major cleaning. If you don't have the proper vacuum attachments, use a feather duster. Dusting drapes prevents dirt buildup and lessens the chances that the drapes will need a major cleaning. Focus on the tops and hems of the curtains, where dust tends to gather.

Wash the ones that can be washed

If your curtains need cleaning, start by looking for the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations, which should be on a tag sewn inside the hem.

  • Check the tag. If there's no tag, identify the fabric, including all trim and linings, and use that information to choose the best cleaning method. You will either machine-wash, hand-wash or dry-clean your drapes.
  • Delicate wash. The delicate cycle is usually best for curtains that can be machine-washed, because you never know how much the sun has weakened the curtain fibres.
  • Delicate dry. The same goes for the dryer — use the delicate cycle. Instead of tumbling curtains until they are dry, which could leave them in a wrinkled ball, remove them from the dryer and hang them up while  they're still slightly damp. If you're lucky, you'll avoid having to iron them.

Find an experienced dry cleaner

For drapes that need to be dry cleaned, it's up to you to ask around to find an experienced cleaner. Few dry cleaners know how to properly handle drapes, but you won't see them advertising that fact. The best will measure your curtains beforehand and guarantee they will come back the same length

Buying drapes?

Before you buy drapes, check the tag. You may love those fancy silk or velvet curtains and they may even be on sale, but before you buy them, keep in mind the cost to clean them. Check the tag inside the hem for curtains that are machine washable and you'll save big bucks in the long run.

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