How to Wash Curtains Three Different Ways

How to Wash Curtains Three Different Ways

Curtains can finish a room, but they are also dust and dirt magnets. Sometimes knowing how to care for these delicate investments can be a mystery. How often should you clean drapes and curtains? How do you protect silks and sheers? Should you use a washing machine, wash your curtains by hand, or steam them clean? Cleaning your curtains one of these three ways usually depends on the material of your window coverings.

How Often to Clean Curtains

Consider washing your curtains every three to six months to keep window treatments clean. You can go longer between washings by maintaining a weekly dust removal routine. Frequently cleaning out the dust, dirt, pet hair, and cobwebs in your curtains helps your home smell fresh and clean, you’ll eliminate allergen problems, and you’ll be able to spot stains in areas that need more in-depth attention. Here’s what to do on a weekly basis:

  • Vacuum heavier fabrics with your upholstery brush attachment. (Tape a piece of mesh or pantyhose over the brush when working on lightweight curtains so the vacuum does not suck up the fabric into the nozzle.)
  • Shake out sheers and lighter-weight window coverings.
  • Use a long-handled dusting tool to gently brush and dust the tops of the curtains along the rod where dust accumulates.
  • Roll a lint brush or sticky side of duct tape on your curtains to remove pet hair (which can stain your curtains over time if not removed).


Some curtains may have a label that reads dry clean only. Doing anything other than dry cleaning is at your own risk. Some fabrics may bleed and fade if they aren’t properly dry cleaned, and others may shrink or pill.

using the vacuum attachment to clean a curtain

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washing machine
  • Clothes dryer or clothesline
  • Iron (optional)
  • Sink or basin
  • Steamer with drape/fabric tool


  • White cloth or paper towel
  • Mesh laundry bags or pillowcases (optional)
  • Sock or other tie (optional)
  • Laundry detergent
  • Color catcher sheet (optional)
  • Thin white towel or cloth (optional for ironing)
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Thick white towels for hand-washing


How to Machine-Wash Curtains

Machine-wash unlined curtains and sheers made from cotton, nylon, and polyester. Lace curtains can be washed in a machine if protected in a mesh bag. Synthetic and lined blackout curtains are likely fine to wash in the machine, but check the label first.

  1. Spot Test Your CurtainsCheck the care label on your curtains first. If you’re in doubt about the colorfastness of your curtains, try spot testing a small corner with a mix of water and a small amount of liquid laundry detergent or liquid dish soap. Dab a white cloth or paper towel on the spot and see if any color is transferred. If there is color on the cloth or paper towel, you can still choose to machine wash, but select cold water and the delicate cycle on your washer.TipAdd a color catcher dye trapping sheet to stop fabric dye bleeding when you wash colored curtains in your machine. Do not wash your curtains with any other items.
  2. Remove HardwareRemove all hardware, such as curtain hooks, rings, pins, and clips from your curtains before putting your curtains in the washing machine. It is okay to machine-wash curtains with grommets as long as you select the delicate wash cycle.
  3. Place Delicates in a BagPlace delicate lace and sheer curtains in a mesh bag before they are washed in the machine. The bag will prevent fraying and other damage to the curtains.In a pinch, place delicate curtains inside an old pillowcase that’s the same color as the curtains and tie it tightly shut with a sacrificial knee sock that you don’t mind stretching or discoloring.
  4. Select Cold WaterMost washable curtains need to be washed in cold water with a small amount of laundry detergent.
  5. Dry the CurtainsLine dry or use a low setting on a clothes dryer for washable curtains.If you are using a dryer, remove the curtains from the machine when they are about 95 percent dry. Over-drying will set in wrinkles, but removing the curtains while still slightly damp makes any necessary ironing a cinch.line-drying curtains
  6. Iron Curtains if NecessaryA quick ironing may be needed. Protect your curtains while ironing by using a thin white towel or T-shirt, for example, in between the curtain fabric and the iron. Replace the curtain hardware and rehang your curtains.

How to Hand-Wash Curtains

Hand-wash unlined sheers and curtains made of cotton, nylon, polyester, laces, and silks (do not wash silk in a machine).

  1. Fill Sink or Basin With WaterFill the sink or basin with lukewarm or cool water so you can easily submerge your curtains.
  2. Add DetergentAdd a few drops of liquid dish detergent or laundry detergent. Swish the detergent around in the water to create suds.
  3. Add CurtainsSubmerge the curtains into the sudsy water. With a gentle hand, swish the fabric around in the water to loosen up dirt.
  4. Rinse the CurtainsLet the soapy water go down the drain or pour it out of the bucket. Replace with clean lukewarm to cool water. Swish the curtains in the water to loosen the suds. Keep rinsing the curtains in clear water until all the suds are gone.
  5. Squeeze Excess WaterLay each curtain panel out flat on a dry, thick, clean white towel (or one the same color as the curtains). Gently and loosely roll up the towel to remove the excess water from the curtain panel.
  6. Hang to DryOnce the panels are just damp and not sopping wet, hang them up to dry (do not put the curtains back on the window yet). Hang them over a drying rack or from a bathtub curtain rod. Do not hang them near a heat source or it may shrink or otherwise damage the fabric.
  7. Iron if NecessaryIf the curtains are wrinkled, iron them on a low setting when the panels are slightly damp. Always use a pressing cloth, such as a thin towel or other fabric, to buffer the curtains from the iron’s direct heat.

How to Steam Clean Your Curtains

Your curtains may be too large to fit into your washer or dryer, and they are too bulky to hand-wash. In that case, steam cleaning is an option. Only machine-washable curtains can be steam cleaned, however. Some steam cleaners have attachments to steam upholstery or curtains.


Do not steam clean velvet curtains and drapes or any water-resistant outdoor curtains. These fabrics need to be spot cleaned or cleaned by a professional.

steam-cleaning a curtain
  1. Check the Curtain’s LabelLeaving your curtains on the rod, check the label to see if there is a warning about using steam on the fabric. If there is no warning, proceed to steam clean your curtains.
  2. Prepare the SteamerFill the steamer’s tank with water according to your model’s instructions. Do not overfill the tank. Plug in the steamer and wait for several minutes for the water to heat up.
  3. Attach Nozzle and Test FabricWhen the water is ready, attach the correct nozzle per instructions. Use the nozzle on a discreet part of your curtains to test for discoloration.Hold the nozzle about 6 inches away from the fabric. Start at the top and steam a small section at a time as you go down the fabric. If the fabric is becoming too saturated with steam, hold the nozzle further away from the curtain.
  4. Attach a Drape or Fabric ToolPut the correct tool onto the hose. Gently brush the fabric from top to bottom of the curtain, holding the hose upright as you suck the dirt out of the curtains. A light touch is required when brushing the fabric with a steamer tool—you do not need to press the curtain into the window as you brush it.
  5. Repeat on the Back of the CurtainAfter finishing the front of the curtain panel, then brush the back of the panel with the drape or fabric tool.
  6. Dry the CurtainsAfter steaming both sides of the curtain panel, let it hang to air dry. If you still see dirt on the curtains, you can repeat the process.

Tips to Keeping Your Curtains Clean Longer

  • Freshen up dingy or yellowed solid white curtains by soaking them in a sink with oxygen bleach before washing by machine.
  • Lay curtains flat on a bed or clean floor to get better traction when vacuuming them.
  • Clean your windows, grilles, window blinds, and windowsills regularly; Dirt on glass and the surrounding areas can quickly transfer onto curtains.
  • Routinely use an extendable duster to eliminate accumulated cobwebs and dust that fall onto your curtains from ceilings (especially ceilings with a popcorn finish) and cornices.



Try Bubble Laundry Service. $1.85/lb and $45 Off. Let’s get your laundry done. 

On Key

Related Posts

How to Clean and Care for Vintage Quilts

How to Clean and Care for Vintage Quilts

Antique quilts are treasured additions to any home. But, these heirloom pieces require special care to preserve them for generations to come. Don’t dry-clean or machine-wash a handmade quilt. Dry-cleaning chemicals can permanently harm old fabrics, and the agitation action


How to Vacuum Every Room In Your Home

A vacuum cleaner suctions up the dust and captures it for disposable while a broom often scatters more dust around the room. When wall-to-wall carpeting became a design choice in homes, a vacuum cleaner became an essential tool for housekeeping.

How to Use Laundry Detergent Pods Correctly

How to Use Laundry Detergent Pods Correctly

Single-dose detergent packs have taken the laundry detergent market by storm. Laundry pods and packs promise to be effective, convenient, and simple to use. Then why are you having problems like streaking or spotting left on loads of laundry after using the pods? 

Oxygen Bleach for Laundry and Stain Removal

How to Use Oxygen Bleach for Laundry and Stain Removal

“Oxi” or “oxy.” No matter how you spell it, oxygen bleach is a hot commodity in the laundry and household cleaning worlds. How does it work, and do you really need it around the house? What Is Oxygen Bleach? Oxygen bleach, or all-fabric bleach, is a

How to Do Laundry in 10 Easy Steps

How to Do Laundry in 10 Easy Steps

Learning how to do laundry is not difficult. Today’s fabrics, detergents, and machines take most of the mystery and mistakes out of the process. Follow these 10 basic steps for washable clothes and you’ll have clean laundry to wear and use tomorrow.

Top 10 Reasons to Use Vinegar in Laundry

Top 10 Reasons to Use Vinegar in Laundry

Using inexpensive distilled white vinegar in laundry will whiten, brighten, reduce odor, and soften clothes without harsh chemicals. Vinegar is safe to use in both standard and high-efficiency washers. All types of vinegar contain acetic acid that works to brighten, soften, and kill odors in your laundry.

How to Use Baking Soda in Laundry

How to Use Baking Soda in Laundry

That same box of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) that you have in your fridge is also an inexpensive way to remove odors from laundry, boost detergent and bleach performance, soften clothes, clean an iron, and control detergent suds. Safe to use

What Is HE Laundry Detergent

What Is HE Laundry Detergent and Do You Need It?

IN THIS ARTICLE Why? How Much? Can I Use It in a Standard Washer?  BACK TO TOP Walk down the laundry detergent aisle in any store, and almost every single bottle, box, and bag has a little symbol on the label:

Laundry Room Ideas

55 Laundry Room Ideas That’ll Make Doing Laundry a Joy

Laundry is an unavoidable household task that many people find boring, but your laundry room certainly doesn’t have to be. Interior designers and home decorators never miss a decorating opportunity, knowing that the key to a stylish interior is maximizing

Reasons to Use Vinegar in Laundry

Top 10 Reasons to Use Vinegar in Laundry

Using inexpensive distilled white vinegar in laundry will whiten, brighten, reduce odor, and soften clothes without harsh chemicals. Vinegar is safe to use in both standard and high-efficiency washers. All types of vinegar contain acetic acid that works to brighten, soften, and kill odors in your laundry.

Laundry Room Flooring Options

7 Laundry Room Flooring Options

IN THIS ARTICLE Considerations Sheet Vinyl Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVF) Tile Concrete Laminate Engineered Wood Solid Wood The Verdict We would all like our laundry room to be comfortable to work in, attractive, and functional. Function is a factor of

How Much To Pay Someone To Do Laundry

How Much Does Laundry Service Cost?

Laundry Bubble is a quality washing service for customers around countries. Clothes Bubble partnered with home providers who generally stay in their homes, businesses, businesses, and suppliers for their customers, washing and folding laundry, so how much to pay someone

How to Remove Ink From Jeans

How to Remove Ink From Jeans

A pen without a cap gets left in a pocket, an open pen gets dropped into a lap, or a toddler goes wild with a marker, and you’re left with an ink stain on jeans. Luckily, depending on the type of ink,

How to Identify and Clean Bed Bug Stains

How to Identify and Clean Bed Bug Stains

Separate Laundry by Color and Fabric Type Treat Stains on Washable Clothes Choose Washer Settings Load and Start the Washer Use the Correct Dryer Cycle Protect Clean Laundry Unless you are an entomologist or an exterminator, you’ll never meet a

Bubble is a rapidly growing start-up that delivers high-quality Wash and Fold. Our customers are often busy families, active professionals, and hardworking businesses that need a little help in getting it all done. We are looking to add amazing new Bubbles to our team.