Curtains beyond a certain age - or those that have completed a tour of
duty in the bathroom or a busy child's room - are probably riddled with stains or worse -
mold or mildew.
The good news: you can probably clean them yourself at home in the washing machine. The only time-consuming part is taking down the fabric for cleaning - and of course hanging it back up afterward.
It's clearly worth the effort, however: you'll save money and usually get a better result washing them at home rather than sending them to the cleaners.
This is especially true if they're cotton, which is easily laundered and withstands high-temperature washes that remove most gunk and odors.
Be prepared, however: You may have to wash them several times to get results.
a stain pre-treater on first, and allow it to penetrate
the fabric for five to 10 minutes. Launder as usual in warm to hot water
with bleach and detergent.
If this doesn't completely remove the stains and odors, repeat: Wash again as needed.
Don't put them into the dryer until you're fully satisfied both stains and odors are eliminated.
Better yet: to keep cotton and other fabric window coverings from shrinking, allow them to air dry instead of placing the in the dryer.
Finally, resolve to keep your window coverings as clean as possible. Add vacuuming drapery to your family's monthly cleaning checklist.
That way, you won't have to repeat this effective but time-consuming process again in the near future.
About the Author
Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.