Fresh, clean curtains have a big impact on how pleasant and welcoming your home looks and feels. However, after a while, you may notice that your curtains have lost their vibrant appearance and now seem dirty and dingy.

How do you clean them? Can you wash curtains in the washing machine? In some cases, you can. But before you gather your curtains and head for your washer, keep reading to find out what factors to consider and helpful curtain cleaning tips.

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How do different types of curtains affect how you wash them?

Cleaning your curtains properly, just like cleaning other areas of your home like carpets, begins with understanding the type of curtains you own. So, take a moment to familiarise yourself with your curtains' composition before washing them.

Not all curtains can be cleaned using the same method. Refer to your machine washing care instructions, as some fabrics can withstand the rough and tumble of a washing machine, while delicate fabrics on lightweight curtains require gentle hand washing with a mild detergent or can only be dry cleaned.

washing machine label guide

Which fabrics can and cannot go into a washing machine?

Your curtains' fabric type and construction will dictate how you select the best cleaning method. Always check the care label for cleaning instructions to avoid any mishaps!

• For polyester, linen, nylon, or cotton curtains, you can typically machine wash them on a gentle cycle with cold water for darker colours and lukewarm or cool water (never hot water) for lighter-coloured curtains.

• Sheer curtains, linen curtains, and silk curtains have delicate fabrics that should be hand-washed. Or machine wash on a delicate cycle with cold water, avoid using bleach or harsh detergents, and hang slightly damp to air dry.

• Blackout curtains, due to their size and thickness, will need the services of a professional cleaner or company.

types of curtains

What are the benefits of machine-washing curtains?

If your curtains are due for a refresh and you’ve determined that their fabric can withstand the washer, consider giving machine-washing a try for the following advantages.

  • The convenience that with a simple toss into the washing machine, you can have fresh, clean curtains in no time.
  • Eliminate dust, pollen, and other debris contributing to allergies or respiratory issues that tend to collect on curtains, especially those hanging near windows, ensuring a cleaner and healthier home environment.
  • Removal of pesky odours that tend to linger on curtains from cooking, pets, or simply the passage of time, leaving them smelling fresh and rejuvenated.
  • A time and energy-saver that frees up your schedule and allows you to spend your valuable time on other activities.

When is the best time to machine-wash curtains?

Regular washing can help keep your curtains looking fresh and extend their lifespan. Ideally, consider machine washing curtains every 3 to 6 months to keep them looking their best. Also, if you recently moved or redecorated, it's probably a good time to give them a wash. The same goes if they're dirty from outside dirt or your pets have left their hair all over them.

Remember, most curtains can be machine-washed easily without worrying about them getting ruined unless they're made of delicate fabrics.

What pre-washing preparations should you do on curtains?

Before tossing your curtains into the washing machine, start by removing any hooks, metal rings, or curtain hardware to prevent damage to both the curtains and the washing machine. Next, give your curtains a thorough inspection for any stains or repairs that may need to be taken care of.

If you spot any stains or spots, it's a good idea to pre-treat them before throwing them in the machine. This will increase the chances of getting those pesky stains out and ensuring your curtains come out looking clean and fresh.

curtains pre-washing preparations

What are the steps for safely machine-washing curtains?

Washing curtains is a straightforward task that can freshen up your living space—and it's easier than you might think. Follow these steps to safely machine wash your curtains and enjoy clean, beautiful window treatments in no time.

1. Make sure you choose the right cycle, water temperature, and detergent for your curtains. For sheer or silk fabrics, use a delicate wash cycle with cold water and a mild liquid laundry detergent. With sturdier materials, select a regular cycle with warm water

2. Properly load your curtains into the washing machine to prevent tangling and damage by folding them loosely and placing them in a laundry bag or pillowcase

steps for washing curtains in the washing machine

What are the best methods to dry curtains and re-hang them?

For many curtains, air drying gets the job done, especially on a warm day; re-hang them, avoiding direct sunlight to prevent colour fading and let Mother Nature do her thing. If it’s chilly or high humidity, you can use a dryer in a low heat setting, being careful to avoid shrinking or overheating the fabric.

To minimise wrinkles and ensure your curtains maintain their original shape, re-hang them immediately after washing them and smooth them out with your hands. Finally, give your curtains a final adjustment to ensure they look polished and perfect.

What are alternative methods of washing to keep curtains fresh?

If you have delicate curtains or non-machine-washable curtains, here are some handy tips for curtain cleaning to avoid damaging the fabric.

  • Spot clean with a damp cloth
  • Gently brush away dirt and debris
  • Use a lint brush for pet hair and dander
  • Employ a vacuum brush attachment or upholstery attachment to remove as much dust as possible
  • Spray on fabric fresheners to give your curtains a pleasant scent and help eliminate odours. Be sure to spot-test first.
  • Use de-wrinkling techniques such as having your curtains steam cleaned or ironed at a low temperature

What are professional curtain cleaning options?

Rather than struggling with washing machines or hand-washing your curtains, which risks damaging the material, plus the hassle and time it takes to complete this chore, you can choose to go with an on-site or off-site professional cleaning service.

On-site cleaning services use steam cleaning to refresh your curtains while hanging. Many people prefer the convenience of not removing their curtains, saving time and effort.

Off-site services, such as dry cleaning, use specialised methods and equipment that provide a deep cleaning to remove stains, odours, and dust from your curtains. Although you will need to take down your curtains and drop them off at the dry cleaners, this option ensures a deep clean that can revive the look and feel of your curtains.

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