Spring Cleaning: How to Clean & Wash Your Curtains

In a previous guide on cleaning curtains and blinds, we’ve explained why it is important to have your curtains cleaned and washed every season (roughly four times a year). Today, we are going to elaborate on how to actually clean and wash your curtains at home — from steam clean to washing machine.


Cleaning and washing preparations

The first and foremost step is to check the label for the proper care required. If a curtain needs to be hand washed, or is only suitable for dry cleaning, you will find the information there.

As a general rule:

  • Lightweight curtains may be cleaned in the washing machine.
  • Curtains made of delicate materials should be hand washed to reduce the risk of shrinking.
  • Curtains made from heavy fabric can be steam cleaned to avoid a lengthy drying process.

Next, measure curtains before washing in case you need to stretch them back into shape. Be sure to remove hooks and any weights, and loosen the tapes so they lie flat.


Several ways to clean your curtains

There are several easy ways to clean your curtains, and likewise, there are an assortment of curtain cleaner products you can use. Here’s a quick, simple guide to the options available.

Option 1: 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. And remember to remove all hardware and ornamentation.

  1. If your washing machine has a delicate or gentle cycle, use it; otherwise, choose a cool wash with a slower spin.
  2. Your normal laundry detergent should be fine. To make sure, you can try spot testing a small corner.
  3. Invest in a detergent specially designed not to fade color to make sure your dark coloured curtains will stay in the dark.
  4. If you are worried about shrinking, don’t risk putting the curtains in the washing machine, and hand wash them instead.

When to put curtains in the washing machine: This option works best with lightweight curtains rather than with heavy materials that will retain water.

When not to put curtains in the washing machine: Some materials need special attention when being put in a washing machine — delicate cotton, for instance, can shrink in hot washes. Be sure to check the label on your curtains before laundering them.

Option 2: Washing by Hand

Hand washing curtains can sometimes be the safer option.

  1. 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.
  2. Follow the instructions on the label of your chosen product — different products will require different treatment.
  3. Remember not to rub or wring the fabric; just agitate it gently.

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.

When not to hand wash curtains: Avoid hand washing very heavy materials simply because it’s difficult to remove all the water, prolonging the drying time.


Option 3: Steam Cleaning

Using a good quality steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment is one of the most convenient methods of curtain cleaning. If you do not have the means to do it yourself, you can ask the help of a professional in a well-established laundry service.

  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 make sure to wear appropriate protective gear.

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.


Prevent crease by drying curtains properly

Once you finished washing, don’t simply put wet curtains in the dryer with the regular setting. The tumbling motion may cause creases that not even a hot iron can remove. For most curtains, you can use a no-heat or delicate setting, and remove them when they are 95 percent dry.

The other best way to dry curtains is to hang them outside, away from direct sunlight to prevent bleaching — curtains in Singapore are especially prone to this. Let your curtains dry naturally, in a breezy place to hasten the process. A quick iron afterwards will have them looking like new again.

Tips: Dry curtains over two parallel lines so wet surfaces don’t touch. Also don’t let the curtains rest on wood, which could stain them.


Make cleaning easier with regular maintenance

Washing your curtains too often is actually not ideal as the materials will shrink or fade in color. So it is important to regularly maintain your curtains so they stay in the best condition possible.

  • Vacuum your curtains regularly (set it to reduced suction) as part of your weekly cleaning routine. A soft brush attachment may also be helpful.
  • Use a lint roller to remove embedded dirt and grime if regular vacuuming and dusting doesn’t get shake them off.
  • Spray sheers with a static-eliminating spray, like Static Guard, to repel dust and hairs.

Even with regular cleaning, you may encounter bad smells from your curtains. If that’s the case:

  • Reduce the absorption of smells. Smoke from kitchen and cigarette is the main culprit so keep the kitchen door closed and only smoke outside.
  • If the bad smells persists, give your curtains a good airing every so often. Hang them in the breeze for an hour or two, or put them in a clothes dryer on a no-heat cycle.

By following the above rules, you only need to give your curtains a proper wash every now and then. And it won’t take too much effort every time to make your home appear brighter.