Curtain Care Guide: How to Clean Your Curtains

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It’s every homeowners’ dirty little secret. How often do you really clean your curtains?

It’s easy to forget about your curtains after you hang them. They’re just sitting there — why do you need to clean them?

You’ll need to put in a little effort to keep them in good shape if you want your curtains to last. So today, we’ll run through everything you need to know about curtain care, including how to clean curtains and how often you should clean curtains, plus some hacks for making curtain maintenance easier.

Why You Should Clean Your Curtains

In order to know how to clean curtains, you need to understand why they require cleaning in the first place. 

Believe it or not, curtains hide a lot of dust and grime in their folds. When left to their own devices, curtains slowly accumulate dust and debris, especially if you skip them during your regular cleaning routine.

Think about it. Every time you open and close your curtains or brush up against them as you walk by, you send dust, pet dander or debris swirling around the room. And, dust and dirt land on your curtains whenever you open your windows. 

Curtains also trap smells from around the house, especially in high-traffic areas like the kitchen or living room. Plus, if your curtains sit in the sun more often, they’ll be more susceptible to wear or damage. Without proper care, curtains will smell stale and discolor quickly over time.

Regularly cleaning your curtains keeps dust and debris to a minimum and extends the lifespan of your curtains. It can also help alleviate indoor allergies and improve air quality in your home.

How Often Should You Clean Your Curtains?

Luckily, curtains don’t require a ton of work to maintain.

Taking a few moments each week to spot clean and performing an annual deep cleaning will ensure your curtains last for years to come.

To start, let’s tackle how often you should be cleaning your curtains.

Curtain Cleaning Schedule

  • Weekly: Each week, before you vacuum or dust, shake out your curtains first to make sure you get any lingering particles or dust.
  • Monthly: Use the dust brush attachment on your vacuum to clean your curtains while they’re hanging up.
  • Yearly: Curtains require a deep, thorough cleaning once a year. Take them down from the curtain rods and remove any hardware. Shake them outside and wash them according to the fabric instructions.

Next, we’ll cover how to clean curtains based on some of the most common types of curtain materials.

how to clean drapes

How to Clean Your Curtains

How you clean your curtains depends on the type, style and fabric of the curtains. Note that certain types of curtains can be machine-washed, while drapery or lace curtains require delicate care. 

Here’s the golden rule on how to clean curtains: Start by reading the cleaning instructions.

This is a curtain care guide, not a list of hard-and-fast instructions. Always refer to the care labels before taking any action.

Certain fabrics may wrinkle, shrink, discolor or get damaged in the washing cycle. Others should only be hand washed or taken to the dry cleaners. Either way, if you’re in doubt, shake your curtains out outside and spot clean them. If you don’t have access to care instructions, here’s how to clean some popular types of curtains.

How to Clean Standard Fabric Curtains

Store-bought, unlined fabric curtains typically can be cleaned in the washing machine.

Only clean one or two curtain panels at a time, depending on the thickness of the fabric — you don’t want to overload your washer. Run the gentle cycle, and avoid using hot water. You can also use a steamer with an upholstery attachment to steam-clean your curtains (keep in mind washing will yield better results).

If you’re steam cleaning, make sure to do a spot test first on an inconspicuous corner to double-check the steam doesn’t damage the fabric. Let the area dry completely to ensure it doesn’t damage or wrinkle the curtains. If all is good to go, steam from the top to the bottom in a careful motion. 

Once washed, hang curtains outside to dry if possible. If you need to hang them inside, make sure to keep a plastic garbage bag or a towel underneath to catch the dripping water.

If you throw your curtains in the dryer, use the lowest heat setting and remove them promptly so they don’t wrinkle. The tumble-dry motion can press permanent, unsightly creases into your curtains. 

Note: If your curtains are made of standard fabric but have ornate decorations or delicate pleats, it might be best to wash by hand or visit the dry cleaners.

How to Clean Sheer or Lace Curtains

Sheer, lace or delicate curtains should be hand washed. 

Fill the soap or bathtub with warm water. Add a few drops of detergent. Massage the curtains in the suds. Handle with care and don’t twist or wring the fabric. If stains have set in, leave it to soak for an hour and hang them outside to dry.

If you do wash sheer curtains in the washer, always use the delicate cycle.

Kwik-Tip: Wash sheer and light curtains more frequently than other curtains. Even if your curtains don’t appear grimy, they’ll be discolored by the you finally notice the dirt.

How to Clean Heavy Fabrics and Drapes

Drapes, lined curtains or any heavy fabrics such as wool, cashmere, brocade and velvet curtains are typically dry clean or spot clean only. 

Don’t make the mistake of throwing drapes into a washer or dryer. Most drapery fabrics require special care, and it’s not worth the risk of ruining them.

How to Spot Clean Curtains

Can you clean curtains without taking them down? If you don’t have time for a full cleaning, you can get away with consistent spot cleaning (though a yearly thorough wash is still our top recommendation). 

Here are a few tips on how to spot clean your curtains (note that this will vary depending on the type of curtain fabric you’re working with): 

  • Use a duster or lint roller to grab dust, dirt and other particles with ease. 
  • Shake them out, holding the top of your curtains near your rod. Remember to vacuum the floor afterward! 
  • Use a brush attachment on your vacuum and run it over your curtains gently or on the lowest suction power. 
  • Soak a cloth in warm or hot water to clean up spots that require extra attention. (This works well for velvet curtains.)  
  • Follow up with a light, fresh-smelling fabric spray or deodorizer and make sure your curtains have room to breathe and air out.

Hang Curtains in Seconds With Kwik-Hang

You’ve invested a lot of time and care into selecting and maintaining your curtains. Hanging curtains shouldn’t be a struggle, too.

Kwik-Hang curtain rod brackets solve your curtain installation problems for good. The no-drill, damage-free curtain rod brackets can support up to 20 lbs of fabric, making them the perfect solution for everything from your lightest curtains to your heaviest drapes. 

The patented bracket design enables you to install them in minutes — no drilling or measuring required. Just place the brackets against your window trim, tap in with a hammer and put up your curtains. Hang perfectly aligned curtains and drapes – every time!

Try Kwik-Hang today.

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