Dirty curtains can make a room look dark and dingy. Not to mention the fact that they can really age a room too.
A simple and relatively inexpensive way to spruce up your curtains is to clean them in a washing machine!
Find out how to wash curtains in a washing machine below.
A Few Tips to Bear in Mind When Cleaning Curtains
- Lightweight curtains are usually easier to wash in a washing machine, compared to heavier curtains. It’s also easier to dry lighter curtains because they don’t retain as much water.
- Always read the care label on your curtains to see how they should be washed. The tag should advise you what water temperature you need to use, whether the curtains can be ironed, and how to dry them.
- If you’ve got any doubts about cleaning your curtains, you can always take them to a dry cleaners to get them cleaned.
- Never wring out delicate materials like silk.
- Use a gentle cycle to wash curtains in the washing machine.
- Stick to using lukewarm or cold water to clean curtains in a washing machine – a temperature below 30°C would suffice.
- Don’t use a strong detergent. Either use a mild detergent or a detergent that is suitable for the material you’re cleaning.
- If the curtains’ care label says ‘dry clean only’, this is how the curtains need to be cleaned. If you cleaned them at home using traditional washing methods, you could shrink or damage them beyond repair.
- You should make a habit of dusting and hoovering curtains to keep specs of dirt at bay. This is also a very quick way of sprucing your curtains up in between cleans! Just remember to use the soft brush head and, if it’s possible, turn the suction down on your machine when you’re hovering your curtains.
- If you don’t fancy washing your curtains too often, you could just pop them on the line outside on a windy day. The curtains will be blown about in the fresh air and this’ll give them a little boost of freshness.
- Curtains can be heavy, so get someone to help you remove and put your curtains back up when you’re done cleaning them.
How to Clean Curtains in a Washing Machine
Lightweight fabrics that won’t retain a lot of liquid are generally okay to be washed in a machine. Fabrics that usually fare well include cotton, linen, polyester and nylon.
The cleaning method below is not suitable for velvet, silk and organza. These fabrics should either be washed by hand or dry cleaned.
Steps to follow:
- Carefully remove the curtains from the rail. Get someone to help you, especially if the curtains are heavy.
- Read the tag on the curtains to see how they should be washed. Only proceed with this method if the tag says they can be washed in a washing machine. Stop and find an alternative cleaning method if you cannot wash them in a machine.
- Measure your curtains once they’re off the rod in case you need to re-shape them after washing. Note down the measurements on a slip of paper and keep it safe for later.
- Take off the curtains’ hooks and any other loose bits that could get tangled in the wash, or damage the curtains during the cycle.
- Shake the curtains outside to remove dust and debris from them before they go in the drum.
- Pop the curtains inside the washing machine on their own. Don’t fill the drum up, because curtains generally get heavy when they absorb water.
- Choose a cool water temperature or stick to what it says on the curtains’ tag.
- Choose a gentle/delicate cycle with a slow spin speed.
- Add detergent to the machine.
- Pop a colour catcher in the drum, if you’re concerned about any colours bleeding during the cleaning cycle.
- Start the cycle.
- When the curtains are in the wash, you can inspect the windows, window sills and clean any cobwebs/general dirt from the area.
- When the washing machine stops, you can remove the curtains and pop them outside, so they can dry naturally.
- If need be, you can iron your curtains when they are still damp to get rid of any wrinkles. Make sure the material permits this first.
- You may also need to stretch your curtains, if they have shrunk a little in the wash.
- Lay your curtains flat out over a large even surface, and stretch them a touch to get them back to their original size. This is where the paper with the measurements comes in handy.
- When you’re done, replace the hooks on your curtains.
- Pop the curtains back up on the rail with the help of another person.
- Optional: Steam the curtains to remove any final wrinkles.
How to Dry Curtains
The best way to dry curtains is to hang them up outside on a line. Drying them like this means that they are exposed to plenty of fresh air, and if there’s a breeze, the curtains will get blown dry.
You should avoid putting curtains in direct sunlight as this can fade the colour of some curtains.
In addition to the above, you can also tumble dry some curtains, but you must check the tag before you do this. Generally, if you can tumble dry your curtains, you will need to use a low heat.
Do keep in mind that while tumble drying may be a quicker way of drying curtains, if your curtains are heavy, they can take an age to dry. So, tumble drying may not be a very cost-effective drying method in this case.
Plus, tumble drying curtains is likely to cause a lot of creasing, which may mean extra ironing work for you.
FAQs on Washing Curtains
How often should you clean curtains?
As a guide you should clean your curtains once to twice a year. You can, however, increase this frequency if your curtains are exposed to more dirt.
For example, if you live in a dusty area, smoke, cook a lot, have pets, or if the pollen is high, you might have to wash the curtains more often. This will keep the curtains looking and smelling fresh.
In general, you should hoover your curtains once a week, so you can take off a large amount of surface dirt and dust.
What temperature should you wash curtains at?
Before you wash your curtains, you should check the items’ care label to see what water temperature you can use to clean them.
If there isn’t a care label, wash your curtains on a temperature of 30°C or lower to prevent the material from shrinking or being damaged.
Can you wash curtains with metal rings in a washing machine?
Yes, you can wash curtains with metal rings, also called grommets, in a washing machine. Just make sure you choose a delicate wash cycle and a low spin speed, so the grommets don’t damage the material when they’re in the machine.
You also need to remove any hooks that are attached to the metal rings before you clean the curtains.
Are all curtains machine washable?
No, not all curtains can be washed in a washing machine.
Before you clean your curtains, you need to check their care label. If you do this you will find out what material the curtains are made from and how to wash them.
Generally, cotton, linen, polyester and nylon can be washed in a machine. Velvet, silk, organza, or any other delicate material cannot be cleaned in a washing machine.
Bethan has a passion for exploring, reading, cooking and gardening! When she’s not creating culinary delights for her family, she’s concocting potions to keep her house clean!