Why Clean Your Curtains
I am plagued by a myriad of allergies, so keeping my home as clean as possible is very important to me. Dust is one of the biggest allergens around, and it clings to home furnishings, curtains and drapes, bedding and it floats around in the air we breathe.
Our curtains trap more dust and air pollutants than most people realize. If left to accumulate for very long, it causes our indoor air to become stale and irritating. Moreover, dust-laden curtains become discolored and look dingy. Odors often stick to curtains, especially smoke and cooking smells.
Clean Curtains Yourself
Depending on the type of fabric in your curtains, you may be able to clean them yourself. However, curtains that are pleated may require the services of a dry cleaner, in order to retain their shape and texture. Additionally, heavy drapes need to be taken to a dry cleaner; however, you can lightly wipe them with a damp rag to remove small spots or just the loose dust. Occasionally, I run my vacuum’s upholstery attachment over the front and top of my curtains without removing them, just to take off the majority of the dust between washings.
My living room drapes, however, are made from a very heavy material and are hard to remove from their hanging rails. In this case, I have found that a personal-sized steam cleaner with upholstery attachments is the way to go. Most stores sell the liquid soap for steam cleaners and you can clean your curtains right in place. Be careful when working with hot steam because it burns skin quickly. Of course, read the label first and follow the recommended procedures.
Curtains, on the other hand, can usually be washed safely at home in your own washing machine. Just be sure to use the delicate cycle, a fine washables detergent and let them air-dry. For curtains labeled with a Dry Clean Only tag, you can always do a preliminary test on one hidden corner with a mild detergent to see if the color will run. Also, watch for shrinkage before you decide whether to wash your curtains yourself.
Air-drying is as simple as hanging the curtains back up in their usual spot to dry. The weight of the material and the force of gravity pull out most of the wrinkles. Some people say that a light tumble in their dryer works wonders, as long as you don’t use any heat or over-dry the material. If needed, a quick touch-up with a warm iron can make your curtains look new again.
Generally, the fabric is what determines how the curtains should be cleaned and whether it’s a job that can be done at home. Read the label sewn into the curtains inseam for the type of fabric as well as cleaning instructions. In any case, I never use hot water or vigorous wash cycles, but instead I opt for cold water and a gentle wash cycle. As with anything else, I don’t take chances with damaging curtains that I would have a hard time replacing. Sometimes, the cost of sending your curtains or drapes out to be professionally cleaned is far cheaper in the long run and less stressful.