How to Clean Curtains and Drapes for Spotless Window Treatments

bedroom with blue wall and gray bedding
Photo: Edmund Barr

Window treatments provide privacy, comfort, and personal preference, but even this hardworking home accessory needs a good clean from time to time. The method you use to care for your curtains depends on their construction and fabric. This guide to cleaning curtains will help you pick the perfect treatment plan.

01 of 08

Consider Fade-Resistant Fabrics

kitchen window shibori dye curtains
Carson Downing

In addition to dust and grime, sunlight is destructive to fabrics. Light-colored fabrics generally reflect sunlight and resist fading. Dark colors, however, absorb light and fade. To protect fabrics on your home's furnishings from the sun, use lined window treatments, blinds, or shades. Also, consider fade-resistant fabric materials for your window treatments.

02 of 08

Daily Curtain Care Tips

bedroom with blue wall and gray bedding
Edmund Barr

Daily care of lined draperies or drapery panels is simple. Give them a gentle shake as they are drawn closed at night to prevent dust and dirt from lodging in the fibers. Every month or so, vacuum curtains with a handheld vacuum and soft brush attachment. Use the low-section setting if your vacuum has one. Always make sure that trims, buttons, and other embellishments are secure before vacuuming.

03 of 08

How to Wash Curtains

laundry room with white cabinets
Edmund Barr

Wash plain-panel or simply constructed draperies only when they are labeled washable. If your curtains are washable, remove hooks, rings, and hardware. Check that the trims are tightly attached.

Unless the directions instruct otherwise, machine-wash window treatments on a short, gentle cycle, using cool water and mild detergent. Be careful not to overload the washing machine. Tumble dry window treatments on the low or air setting or line dry. Complete the cleaning process by ironing curtains on their reverse side.

04 of 08

How to Remove Stains from Curtains

kids play room corner floating shelves books polka dot curtains yellow lamp
John Granen

Accidents happen. If you find dirt, sticky fingerprints, or other stains on your curtains, turn to mild liquid dish soap. To spot-clean curtain stains, dissolve a few drops of soap into warm water and gently work the suds into the stain with a sponge. Blot with a clean cloth, repeating as needed until the stain is gone. If machine-washable, launder curtains on a gentle cycle. Use our stain removal guide to treat specific stains, such as wine, coffee, and ink.

05 of 08

When to Skip Washing Curtains

Bedroom with pink walls
Tria Giovan

There are several reasons not to wash draperies, including if the drapery, lining, or any trims and embellishments aren't washable, or if the drapery and lining are made of different fibers; one might shrink, causing the other to pucker. Also, avoid laundering if sunlight has weakened the fabric, if the draperies are constructed with pleats (which might not hold their shape during machine-washing), or if the draperies are too large for your washing machine.

06 of 08

How to Iron or Steam Curtains

ironing a white curtain
Jay Wilde

If your curtains appear wrinkled after drying, an iron or steamer will help return window treatments to their former glory. Iron on the reverse side of curtains. If seams have puckered, spritz lightly with plain water. Pull the seams to stretch them back to size, taking care not to break the stitching. Reattach metal hardware only after the curtains are dry.

Alternately, a steamer can make quick work of stubborn wrinkles. Hang curtains from the rod and grab a ladder or chair. Steam the front of the panels from top to bottom. For delicate materials, use a low heat setting.

07 of 08

Tips for Cleaning Lace Curtains

shabby-chic bedroom with lace curtain details
Scott Little

Remove dust from lace curtains by tumbling them in the dryer on the air cycle. Many new lace curtains are hand- or machine-washable. Follow the label directions or gently wash in cool water. Use detergent made for fine washables.

For extra body, dip freshly washed lace curtains in a light starch solution. For a soft look, re-hang the curtains without starching while they are slightly damp. If you use metal hooks, temporarily place a piece of tissue paper under each hook where it comes in contact with the damp lace. This will prevent the hook from rusting onto the fabric.

08 of 08

How to Clean Curtain Sheers

nursery with geometric yellow rug
Tria Giovan

Most sheers are washable synthetics. Unless the label states otherwise, wash in the same manner as lace curtains. Dry-clean organdy sheers, which are fragile and prone to sun damage.

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