There are a few items in your home that are so hard to clean that you’d sooner bring them to the dry cleaner than give it a good ol’ college try—especially if that item is extra-dirty. Soft surfaces like pillows, rugs, and couches come to mind, but nothing is more cumbersome than curtains. Not only does the dust gather on them faster than other surfaces, but the direct sunlight makes it more obvious than buildup on blinds or Roman Shades. But the best way to clean curtains at home isn’t nearly as difficult as you’d imagine.
It may seem blasphemous, but most curtains are machine-washable. Fabrics like linen, cotton, nylon, and polyester can certainly be washed at home. (If you have silk or velvet curtains, then in most cases, you’ll probably need to send them to the dry cleaner.)
Just like with your clothes, you’ll want to start with the care label. Most curtains will list both the fabric content and washing guidelines just like your favourite blazer. If there are no instructions or you’ve already ripped the tag off, try to look them up online before sending them off to the dry-cleaner. You’d be surprised how quickly a brand will Tweet or email back when you’re looking to take proper care of their product. If your curtains have elaborate box pleats, embroidered raised stitching, or any other intricate pattern, consider hand-washing them in lukewarm water to protect them. If you go that route, I recommend taking a vacuum to them first.
Once you’ve identified that your curtains are machine washable, it’s time to take them down and get moving. Simply toss the panels into the washing machine on the cold, delicate cycle—especially if they’re particularly thin or sun-damaged—using a gentle Laundry Soap like ours, which was designed for everything from hand-washing to machine washing at any temperature. While the curtains are in the wash, take a microfiber cloth and some All-Purpose Cleaner to wipe down the curtain rod and any other window hardware.
If your care label says to tumble them dry, then by all means—throw ‘em right in the dryer. I generally prefer to hang mine, especially because I love to iron them when they’re almost dry. I spritz on a bit of Room + Linen Spray just before and after ironing to give them an extra blast of freshness that lasts way longer than the just-washed smell.
Now, if only we could figure out some way for the curtains to re-hang themselves!