Although drapes are an elegant addition to homes, they are often neglected. When you first put them up, they look so lovely. But, chances are you don’t realize that they accumulate dust until you whisk them open a couple of years later, where you see dust particles dancing in the air as the sun enters the room. When that happens, you usually have two options: wash them or consider it a great opportunity to redecorate!
In case you go with the first option, here are some great tips to help you clean your drapes and make them look like brand new again!
- Keep Ahead of Grime and Dirt
Prevention is always best. To avoid the unnecessary expenses of getting them cleaned by a pro* and the amount of time you’d need to spend washing them, it’s best to get a lot of the dust and dirt off the surface by vacuuming or dusting once a week. You can use a static duster, duster, feather, your vacuum cleaner’s dusting attachment, a dusting cloth or any damp cloth you can get your hands on.
Dust Cleaning Process:
- Start at the top and gradually work your way down (no need to remove the drapes from the wall). That way, all the dust will fall onto the parts of the drapes you haven’t dusted yet. Just make sure your curtain rod is secure and can hold the drapes while you dust or vacuum them.
- Don’t forget the folds and hems. It’s unbelievable how much dust they collect.
- If you are using a damp cloth (not a great idea to use on lightly colored drapes), first vacuum or dust the drapes so that you don’t smear dirt.
- Finally, vacuum or dust the side facing the window. You will find lots of debris there, too; debris that can cause odor, will fall onto the floor and become airborne allergens.
*Besides, having them cleaned too often will ruin your drapes, anyway.
Tip: If dusting and vacuuming don’t get all of the embedded grime and dirt, use a lint brush!
- Steam Clean
There are lots of efficient and inexpensive handheld steam cleaners in the market that you can get for home use. Before you do anything, though, with them, first make sure your drapes can be steam cleaned (check the manufacturer’s label). If the label mentions they are machine washable, then you will have no problem stream cleaning them, although you could just toss them into the washing machine and get the job done pretty effortlessly!
Steam Cleaning Process:
- Fill the steam cleaner’s tank with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Give it a few minutes to heat the water and then attach the jet nozzle to the end of the hose.
- Hold it about 6 inches from your drapes and start at the top. Spray with steam and gradually move to the bottom.
- Seam lines should be more attended to so move the nozzle closer (about 2 inches).
- Once you have covered the entire front surface, remove the jet nozzle and attach a drape or fabric tool (depending on the model of the steam cleaner) to the end of the hose.
- Lightly touch the fabric/drape tool to the top of the drapes. Make sure you hold the hose upright so the dirty condensation runs right into the machine rather than on your drapes.
- Move your way to the bottom (slowly) of the fabric panel.
- Once you have covered all the front side, repeat the procedure for the back side, too (follow steps 4-6).
- Allow to air dry and avoid dusting or any other cleaning task inside the house until the drapes are dry. Also, windows should remain closed, too so your drapes dry as undisturbed as possible. That way, they won’t attract debris and airborne dirt from the inside or the outside.
- Machine Wash
If your drapes are machine washable, you are lucky. Just unhang them and let the washing machine do all the work. However, there are some tricks for even more impressive results.
- Always choose the delicate cycle, even if your drapes are made of thick fabric.
- Wash them in cold water, unless the manufacturer label mentions warm water, which is preferred if the drapes are heavily soiled. Otherwise, you may have to deal with fading and shrinking.
- For dark-colored drapes, use a detergent specifically designed to protect colors and prevent fading.
- Use a detergent that’s designed for delicate fabrics, such as Woolite.
Always check your drapes before tossing them in the washing machine for sun damage (fibers will be weakened). If this is your case, you should be extra careful when handling them.
- Dry Wash
Tumble dry is ideal but you can dry your drapes on gentle cycle, too. Just choose no heat (or low heat, at least). It’s a longer cycle, but you will be more reassured that your drapes will last longer.
Don’t use a hot cycle because you will make the material shrink and wrinkle, and the colors to fade. Just 15-20 minutes in the dryer will help avoid ironing, too, which is a huge deal!
Be careful not to hang your drapes right back to dry (unless you have tossed them in the dryer for a few minutes). The dripping water may damage your flooring or carpet. That aside, the folds and gathers will take forever to dry that way and possibly cause mildew, too.
But, this doesn’t mean you should dry your drapes in the dryer completely. The best way around it is to machine dry them until they are slightly damp and then hang them back on the rods. This is because the weight will help your drapes hang better than completely dried.
Again, no cleaning the house, no open windows, no vacuuming around the area where the dry washed drapes are drying for the same reasons as mentioned before.
- Washing the drapes too often shortens their life. So, the longer it takes you before you wash them, then better.
- If the drapes are exposed to direct sunlight or heat/cold, you may notice that the fabric will fade. Just make sure you always hang the faded side facing out!
- If you want to give your drapes a general freshening, spraying them with a little Febreeze and putting them into the dryer (tumble or low dry) will liven them up.
- If you can, avoid fabric softener sheets because, sometimes, they leave stains behind that look like a greasy spot.
Now that you know, there is nothing stopping you from enjoying your beautiful clean drapes for as long as you want!