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tips for washing curtains

Washing curtains, drapes, and other window treatments at home is a relatively easy and cost-effective solution. 

This is especially true if your window treatments are cotton, a fabric easily laundered because it can withstand hot water washes -  the temperature most likely to remove all the gunk and odors.

The time-consuming part is taking the window treatments down for cleaning - and of course hanging them back up afterward.

These tips for washing curtains can help get you started.

the vacuum is your friend.

Curtains and drapes mostly get dusty. Very dusty.

The best way to keep your soft window treatments like curtains looking good is to vacuum them thoroughly, top to bottom, at least twice a year.

Another option is to take down the treatments and send them for a 10-minute spin in the dryer on the fluff cycle. Then, of course, you have to hang them up again (ugh).

Are the drapes a little soiled? Call in one of your local cleaning services. Most drapes must be professionally cleaned.

Some cleaning services use a solvent/extraction method directly on the drapes as they hang in the windows. That way you don't have naked windows while you're waiting for them to return.

Heavily soiled drapes, however, will probably need to be taken down and sent out.

washing window sheers.

Sheers are some of the most difficult window treatments to clean because they are very fragile and stretch easily.

For best results, dust them weekly with a feather duster. If you use a vacuum, use low suction to keep from stretching or puckering the material. Clean only one small area at a time in short, horizontal strokes.

Experts advise using a drapery cleaning service to clean sheers. Look for one with portable injection/extraction machines that clean the sheers without solvents as they hang.

washing window shades.

Dust shades regularly. If you use a vacuum, be careful not to apply too much pressure. Or you can blow off dust with a blow-dryer set on low. Spot-clean shades with a sponge dipped in mild hand dishwashing detergent. Gently blot dry with a clean, lint-free rag.

cleaning window blinds.

Dust, vacuum, or blow-dry window blinds regularly.  To clean wooden painted louvers, tilt them almost all the way up and wipe them with a cloth moistened in a mild detergent solution; then tilt them almost all the way down and wipe again. This ensures that you clean the middle, too.

Don't wet stained wood shutters because this may damage the finish. Instead, clean them with lemon oil or a wood preservative.

Probably the most efficient way to wash vinyl or metal mini blinds is ye olde traditional method of taking them down and immersing them in a bathtub full of soapy water. Rinse them, and then the hang blinds over the shower rod to dry.

Vacuum or dust vertical blinds regularly, especially along the floor. If you have pets, use a pet brush to remove pet hair. Don't wash or dry-clean fabric vertical blinds.

Clean vinyl or aluminum vertical blinds with a damp cloth. Leave a light film of detergent on the vanes to reduce static electricity.

Some valances and curtains are washable, especially if they aren't lined. Before washing, examine them for sun rotting. If they have rotted, don't bother washing them. Just replace them. If they're not washable, have them professionally cleaned.

final tips for washing window treatments:

  • Treat stains on soft window treatments by first applying a stain pre-treater, 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 and wash again.
  • Don't put soft window treatments into the dryer until you're sure the stains and odors are eliminated.
  • To keep cotton and other fabric window coverings from shrinking, allow them to air dry instead of placing them in the dryer.
  • Finally, resolve to keep your window coverings as clean as possible by vacuuming them weekly. That way, you won't have to repeat this time-consuming process again in the near future.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for the laundry products and tools you need for washing curtains safely.

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About the Author

Tara Aronson

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.