Window treatments are an integral part of your home decor, so it's important to take care of them. With proper cleaning and storage techniques, your drapes can look their best for years to come, and you'll only need to replace them because you want to, not because you have to.
How to Clean Your Drapes
Unlike clothing that you wear every day, drapes and curtains never leave the house. That means they aren't likely to suffer wear and tear or staining. Still, they can pick up plenty of dirt over time, especially if you keep the windows open for fresh air. Even the finest mesh window screens can't keep out car exhaust, dust, or pollen, so it's important to clean your drapes regularly to keep loose particles from becoming ground-in dirt that makes your curtains look dingy over time.Follow these steps to clean your drapes:
Read the Labels: Different fabrics require different care. Always begin by checking the labels to see what types of cleaning solutions are recommended. When in doubt, it's best to dry clean drapes to avoid shrinkage.
Vacuum Regularly: The single best way to keep your curtains from requiring a deep clean is to remove particulates regularly. This is easily done with a vacuum cleaner with an extension handle and upholstery attachment. Use low suction and gently sweep the hose from top to bottom until you've covered the whole drape. Vacuuming once every two to four weeks should be sufficient.
Wash Sheers by Hand: Sheers tend to show dirt the fastest, so you may need to wash them with soap and water when they look dingy. As long as they aren't dry-clean only, it's best to do this by hand in the bathtub or on your machine's gentlest cycle.
Machine Wash Cotton or Polyester: Casual curtains that don't have special pleats or linings can often be machine washed (again, always check the label!). For best results, hang to dry to avoid shrinking them in a too-hot dryer.
When in Doubt, Dry Clean: Wool, textured weaves, delicate fabrics and anything with sharp pleats should be dry-cleaned. This is the safest way to preserve the fabric, and it only needs to be done if your curtains are visibly dirty or have absorbed odors from cooking, smoking or pets.
How to Store Your Drapes
If you like to swap out drapes seasonally — say, to replace wintertime velvet with summery linen — you'll need to store your drapes carefully to keep them in good condition while not in use. Here's how to keep them in tip-top shape while in storage:
Clean and Dry Drapes Before Storage: Vacuum, wash, or dry-clean drapes before you pack them up for storage. Be sure drapes are completely dry before storing to keep mold and mildew at bay.
Store Pleated Drapes Hanging Up: Whenever possible, it's best to store drapes by hanging them up to maintain their shape and avoid creasing. Use strong padded hangers or skirt hangers with clips and hang on a rod that won't allow them to touch the floor. Cover the hanger with a protective sleeve — breathable fabric is best, but a plastic dry-cleaning bag is fine for short-term storage.
Store Casual Drapes in Airtight Boxes: Choose a durable plastic storage container with a tight-fitting lid that will keep out insects and mice. Line the container with acid-free paper or muslin to protect your fabrics from staining, and consider adding mothballs to containers that hold wool drapes.
Proper cleaning and storage of your drapes will ensure that they have a long, beautiful life as part of your home decor. For more tips check out our helpful resources on care and installation of curtains.
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