How to Clean Your Curtains in the Washing Machine

If you're like most people, once you hang up your curtains, there's a strong possibility that you never consider cleaning them or how you would clean them if they ever got dirty. Whether it's the size, the logistics of pulling them down or just the idea that you're not really wearing them so how dirty could they get, cleaning the curtains in your home is often a very low priority. That said, our curtains are often some of the dirtiest garments in our homes and tend to collect all kinds of nastiness including dust, moisture from mopping, grimy handprints, small spills and pet stains. With that in mind, today we'll discuss how you can freshen up your drapery and clean your curtains in the washing machine.

Before You Clean Your Curtains in the Washing Machine, Check Your Label!

Much like clothing, not all forms of drapery or curtains are meant to be cleaned in the washing machine. For example, if you have custom-made drapes using specialty fabric such as silk or fine linen, you should plan to take them to the dry cleaners to avoid ruin. However, if you own cotton or polyester (or any type of curtain that you might have purchased in a plastic bag), you should be able to clean your curtains at home or the laundromat in the washing machine.

But first, check the care tag for specific instructions on how to best clean your curtains. Look specifically for details such as "dry-clean only," "hand wash" or "lay flat to dry." Whatever the advice, we find that the manufacturer typically knows best how to clean your curtains.

Prepare Curtains for Wash

Now that you've checked your label and have been given the "green light" to wash your curtains in the dryer, it's time to pre-wash your linens. This means vacuuming your curtains or shaking away the dust before throwing them in the washing machine, especially if you plan to take your curtains to the laundromat. This will ensure that nothing clings to the curtain's fibers while they're being washed. It would also be wise to take off any removable hardware from the curtains to avoid any snags.

Clean Your Curtains with Cold (or Cool) Water

We've often discussed the use of hot or cold water when washing clothes. As a general rule, cold water is completely acceptable for washing just about anything, and that includes cleaning your curtains. We also suggest washing your curtains alone (no other garments, towels, etc) on a delicate setting with mild detergent for the best results.

Don't Use High Heat to Dry

Once your curtains are done in the washing machine, you have a choice in drying them. If the spin cycle eliminated most of the water, you can air dry them then fluff in the dryer on a low heat setting for 20 minutes to avoid shrinkage. Alternatively, you can toss your curtains in the dryer on low heat first (especially useful if you're washing your sheets at the laundromat) to get some of the excess water out; then hang to dry. The goal with either approach is to avoid your curtains shrinking.

Iron Your Curtains for a Polished Look

Finally, once your curtains are dry, if you want your curtains to look fresh and polished, iron them using a low-heat setting. These will make your curtains as "good as new" and make your house feel like a home.

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