Cleaning Tips for Your Curtains

Cleaning tips for your curtains.

Caring for Your Curtains, Drapes and Sheers

As it gets colder, many homeowners turn their attention away from the yard and back to the interior of the house. This might mean tackling some deep cleaning, paying attention to all those nooks and crannies that may have gone ignored during the warmer months.

At this time of year, walls, fixtures, carpets and baseboards all get their bi-annual scrub. What about your window coverings and top treatments like valances and cornice boards?

Since curtains, drapes and sheers can all collect dust and debris throughout the year, it’s important to clean them regularly and give them a good deep clean once or twice a year.

In addition to keeping your curtains and drapes looking beautiful, keeping them clean helps to prevent the buildup of allergens like dust, pollen and pet hair, which spread every time the curtains are opened and closed.

First, Remove Any Built-Up Dust and Debris

The good news is that most fabric window treatments usually only need to be dusted. A good rule of thumb is to dust the drapes and top treatments every time you vacuum.

To remove dust, you can use a can of compressed air, the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner, a high-quality feather duster, or your hair dryer on the coolest possible setting. If you use compressed air, a blow dryer, or a feather duster, you’ll still want to break out your vacuum to pick up the errant dust particles.

Whichever method you use, a gentle touch is key. When using a vacuum cleaner, you might want to cover the end of the hose with a bit of pantyhose, to prevent the fabric from getting sucked into the hose. Using an upholstery attachment, vacuum both sides of the fabric, around the hardware, and up around any crown moulding or cobwebs that might have gathered near the drapery rod and finials.

Try a Spot Test – If your window treatments can be cleaned in the washing machine or by hand, try a spot test in a hidden area first. Test with your usual detergent and let the area dry fully. This will let you rule out any discolouration before you move on to washing entire panels.
If steam cleaning is recommended, try steaming a small hidden area and let it dry fully. As with a spot test using detergent, this will let you see if steaming has caused any discolouration in the fabric.

A Few Notes:

  • Avoid using magnetic cleaners such as a dusting mitt on any blackout or room darkening fabric since this could damage the backing.
  • When cleaning windows, spray glass cleaner on a cloth rather than spraying on the window. This will keep the cleaner from hitting your fabrics and potentially damaging them.

Next, Choose Your Cleaning Method

Washing by Hand – (not recommended for custom made draperies and larger sizes)

Using a mild detergent in warm water, immerse your curtains into a bathtub or large laundry tub. The important thing here is to make sure that there’s enough room for the fabrics to fully soak. Wash like colours together at the temperature shown on the care tag. Delicate, dainty fabrics like lace and sheers should be washed by hand or in a mesh bag. Avoid rubbing or wringing out the fabric, as this can damage the fibers.

Using the Washing Machine

  1. Take the curtains and drapes down
  2. Remove any hardware—metal rings, clips, tie backs and weights. Loosen the heading tape if there is any.
  3. Shake the panels off outside to get rid of any last bits of dust
  4. Double check the care instructions if there are any.
  5. Soak the panels in cold water, then move to the washing machine
  6. Be careful not to overload your machine. If you’re washing heavy, long drapes, (not recommended) stick with one or two panels at a time
  7. If you can, hang your curtains and drapes outside on a clothesline. If you have to dry them inside, lay down plenty of towels to catch dripping water and protect your flooring
  8. Iron your drapes while they’re still damp, using the appropriate fabric setting. Iron lengthways on the wrong side, making sure to stretch the fabric to prevent any puckering of seams. Hang the curtains or drapes back up while they’re still a bit damp and they’ll dry to look absolutely perfect

Using a Steamer

If steaming is okay for the type of fabrics your curtains and drapes are made of, you can forgo the trouble of taking your curtains and hardware down. As long as your curtains don’t need a full clean with detergent, you can steam them. Purchase or rent a good quality steamer and you can have your window coverings cleaned and hanging beautifully in a snap.

  1. Vacuum excess dust from on and around the fabrics and hardware
  2. Ensure that your steamer has an attachment meant for upholstery/drapery fabrics.
  3. Carefully follow the instructions on the machine. For best results, steam the fabric on the wrong side, working top to bottom

 Unsure? Treat Your Curtains to A Professional Cleaning

The best way to protect your investment and ensure an even clean is to take your window coverings to a professional. It also takes this task off your plate, so you can drop the window coverings at the cleaners and get on with your day. As window fashion experts, we’re happy to recommend a reputable cleaner near you if your window coverings need a bit more TLC.


Are your window fashions looking outdated? Thinking about an upgrade? Established in 1987, we have one of the largest window covering showrooms in Canada and feature a wide range of suppliers and products to be able to provide window fashions to suit any home and style. Conveniently located in downtown Victoria, BC stop in to view our showroom, or book your free shop at home appointment to get started on your home makeover today!

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