Washing Curtains Tips

Curtains in sitting room or bedroom can be washed or cleaned once a year. Generally, the best time to do this is as part of the spring cleaning, expecially if you are planning to wash them – it is easier to dry them on a breezy day.

Kitchen and bathroom curtains, which get dirtier, will need to be cleaned more frequently. If you have fabric pelmets, swags or tiebacks, wash or clean them at the same time as the curtains so that one component does not look cleaner or more faded than another.

Always choose a washable fabric for kitchens or bathrooms. When buying curtain fabric, check that it is pre-shrunk. Otherwise, allow 10% extra for shrinkage. Check with the shop assistant when buying, or consult the care label on ready-made curtains before washing.

Before washing curtains, measure them so that you can stretch them back to the correct size. If you are worried about shrinkage, unpick the hems. Now take down the curtains and remove the curtain hooks. Loosen the header tape.


Shake the curtains well and then vacuum on the both sides, using the upholstery brush. Soak them in a bath of cold water, to loosen the dirt. Then wash either by hand or in the machine.

Dry outside, hanging over the line – or two parallel lines if they are very heavy. Iron, if necessary, while still damp. Iron on the wrong side, working along the vertical length. As you do so, stretch the seams gently. Pull the curtains into shape, then reinsert hooks and pull the tapes to the correct length before rehanging.

If you wash curtains by hand, remove the curtains from their cold soak. Fill the bath with lukewarm water and add a mild liquid detergent. Wash the curtains by squeezing them, not rubbing. You could also get in the bath and tread on them in the manner of a grape-treader. Rinse thoroughly, at least 3 times, to remove all the detergent, then wring or spin dry.

If you wash curtains in the washing machine, first of all be sure that your curtains are machine-washable. Check the weight of the curtains and the maximum load your machine can take. You may have to wash them one at a time. If the curtains are very large, make sure that they fit inside the drum. Give the curtains a cold-water soak before washing on a very gentle wash. Remove from the machine as soon as possible to prevent creasing, and dry outside. Do not put in the tumble-dryer!

Professional washing curtains

Many curtains are not washable, whether because they are made of a non-washable fabric, such as silk, or because they are trimmed with something that is not washable, or because they are lined with a fabric that will shrink at a different rate from the main body of the curtain.

Sometimes, even dry-cleaning will cause shrinkage, and although it is a terrible chore, it is sometimes better to unpick the linings and dry-clean the linings and curtains separately. If shrinkage does occur, it is cheaper to reline curtains.

Even easier, though not cheaper, is to have the curtains professionally cleaned in situ. The best way to find a reputable cleaner is by word of mouth.

Tags: home cleaning, washing curtains

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