How to clean curtains - easy ways to refresh your curtains without damaging them (2023)

How to clean curtains - easy ways to refresh your curtains without damaging them (1)

If you're noticing a flurry of dust appear every time you draw the curtains, it's probably time to give them a much-needed refresh. It's a chore we often skip over because we think it might be more hassle than its worth, but fortunately you can learn how to clean curtains quite easily, and do a good job of it too.

Dust loves to settle on curtains, and being near the windows, they can often fall victim to mould and damp too. That's an easy way to spoil any bedroom curtain ideas, which is why learning how to clean curtains is time well spent.

Even if you think your curtains are fine as they are, it's not a good idea to skip cleaning them. 'While it may seem like your curtains aren’t getting dirty, over time they can absorb dust and moisture in the air and when windows are left open, they can also harbour pollen and dirt from the outside if neglected,' says Helen O’Connor, Product Manager, 247 Curtains.

How to clean curtains - easy ways to refresh your curtains without damaging them (2)

How to clean curtains

So now that we've established why learning how to clean curtains should definitely be on your to do list, we've asked the experts to share their top tips. There are a few methods for you to try in our guide, but we're confident that your curtains will look as good as new once you're finished.

How to clean curtains with a vacuum

Learning how to clean curtains in need of a quick refresh is best done with the best cordless vacuum cleaner. We recommend doing this regularly, at least once a month, so that dust, pet hair, and other debris don't accumulate on your curtains over time.

1. Close the curtains

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The good news is that when cleaning curtains with a vacuum, you can leave them hanging. Just close them before you start so you can better access the fabric. If you're cleaning blackout curtains, you'll need to switch the overhead light on to do a proper job.

2. Vacuum the curtains

Using the soft brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner that is designed for furniture and upholstery, gently run the vacuum over the curtains. This will be easier with a handheld vacuum, such as the SHARK CH950UKT Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, £79.99 at Currys, so you can easily lift the vacuum up high and reach the top of the fabric.

'You’ll get the best results by moving from the top to the bottom, paying special attention to the edges. Repeat on the linings or reverse side of your curtains,' says Emily Booth, Advice Expert, Hillarys. 'Don’t forget the bottom edges of your curtains where they meet the windowsill or floor, which collect dust.'

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Hoover Cordless Vacuum HF9 | was £379, now £249 at Hoover

The powerful suction of the Hoover Cordless Vacuum HF9 will easily remove dust, hair and debris from curtains. It easily turns into a handheld vacuum, perfect for cleaning the curtains whilst they're hanging on the rail.View Deal

3. Use a steamer to remove creases

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If you really want to show off your gorgeous curtains, go in with a handheld steamer after vacuuming. A light steam will remove any creases and wrinkles,a common problem with linen curtains in particular.

Use a steamer like the Lakeland Handheld Garment Steamer, £39.99 at Lakeland, and move it over your curtains, starting at the top and working your way to the bottom in large, sweeping movements.

'For velvet curtains, only steam from the lining side', Emily advises. 'Avoid getting water or steam on the face of the fabric as this may cause permanent damage.'

How to clean curtains with stains

If your curtains are showing some stains - from food, drinks, or even mould - they might require a little more work than a simple vacuum. Before you go ahead and wash the whole curtain, see if spot cleaning can help lift the stain first.

1. Gently clean with water

'When working with delicate fabrics, I always recommend avoiding detergents or stain removers (no matter how gentle they are) as they can sometimes lead to either the colour or fabric being compromised,' says Helen from 247 Curtains.

Try removing the stains using warm water and a clean cloth first. Gently dab at the stain until it starts to lift. This will work much better if you're learning how to clean curtains when the stain is fresh; if it's been there a while, you'll probably need to try the next step.

2. Create a white vinegar solution

For stubborn stains, and especially if your curtains are showing signs of mould, you can try cleaning with white vinegar, a store cupboard essential that works wonders for breaking down dirt and bacteria.

Dilute your vinegar with water so it doesn't damage the fabric of your curtains. Mix an equal ratio together in a bowl.

3. Spot clean

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Using a clean, soft cloth, dab the vinegar solution onto the stains. Apply a generous amount, and let the vinegar soak into the curtains. Leave for an hour, then use a new cloth and water to remove the vinegar from the curtains. The stain should lift along with it.

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The caveat of using vinegar to spot clean your curtains is that its strong scent can linger afterwards. We recommend going in with a fabric freshener to counter this, like the Febreze Fabric Refresher in Spring Awakening, £2.50 at Wilko.

How to wash curtains

Learning how to clean curtains can be done with and without a washing machine, but it really depends on the type of curtains you own. If you've tried vacuuming and spot cleaning and your curtains still need a refresh, check the care label to see if they're washing machine safe.

1. Use the washing machine if it's safe to do so

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If the care label indicates that the curtains can go in the washing machine, take them down from their pole and carefully fold them into the drum. Make sure you've removed any other items first.

'Make sure you carefully check the care labels instructions to understand the best conditions to clean them in to avoid damage,' says Helen. 'In most cases, if they are machine-washable, they should be washed on a gentle, low-temperature cycle with a gentle detergent.'

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Beckham Ready Made Eyelet Blackout Curtains | was £59.99, now £36.11 at Terrys

These blackout curtains from Terrys are beautifully simple to look at, but also wonderfully easy to clean. They can popped into the washing machine and washed on a cold cycle at 30°, but they shouldn't be ironed or tumble dried.View Deal

2. Try hand washing

If your curtains aren't washing machine safe, you can try hand washing them. Fill your bath with lukewarm water and washing up liquid - if you don't have a bath, you'll need a large bucket or sink. Wait for the washing up liquid to dissolve then submerge the curtains fully, using your hands to work the water into the curtains.

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Drain out the water, then rinse your curtains with fresh water from the tap. Make sure you've got rid of any soapy residue before you hang the curtains out to dry.

How to clean curtains - easy ways to refresh your curtains without damaging them (9)


How often should curtains be cleaned?

'To prevent the accumulation of dust and dirt, it's recommended to vacuum your curtains every two weeks,' says Nichola McFall, Product Director, Swift Direct Blinds. 'The frequency of giving your curtains a more thorough clean will depend on several factors, such as exposure to outdoor pollution or if they are stained.'

'Dusting should be part of your weekly cleaning routine - as should vacuuming,' says Helen from 247 Curtains. 'This is especially important if anyone in your household suffers from allergies as dust particles can cling to the curtain’s fabric.'

Vacuuming the curtains as regularly as possible will keep them free of dust and dirt, which will cling to the fabric if it's neglected. Aim to do it once a week, or every two weeks if not.

It's best to clean stains as soon as you notice them, so they don't have a chance to settle into the fabric. And for curtains that can be washed, aim to do this every 6 months or less.

How to clean curtains - easy ways to refresh your curtains without damaging them (10)

What are the best ways to clean curtains?

'The best way to wash curtains will depend on the material and nature of the curtains,' says Sarah Dempsey, Cleaning Expert, MyJobQuote. 'Always check the care label for the recommended washing method. In most cases, vacuuming and steaming is the best and easiest method.'

(Video) How To Wash Curtains Three Different Ways | The Best Curtain Treatment

Vacuuming followed by a quick steam will refresh your curtains instantly, and it can be done whilst they're on the rail. If you do this every couple of weeks, there won't be a need to wash your curtains as frequently, as they'll stay fresher and free of dust.

Putting curtains through a wash cycle can produce the best results, but remember that not all curtains are washing machine safe. 'If the label indicates that the curtains are "dry clean only," it's essential not to use a washing machine to avoid damaging the delicate fabric, which could result in an expensive mistake,' says Nichola McFall. 'However, if the care instructions permit machine washing, it's recommended to follow the suggested directions diligently.'

If you've tried all the methods in our guide and there are still some stubborn stains clinging to your curtains, it might be worth getting them dry-cleaned. A professional cleaning service will be able to break down the stains without damaging the fabric, which can be a risk when learning how to clean curtains yourself.


How to clean curtains - easy ways to refresh your curtains without damaging them? ›

In most cases, vacuuming and steaming is the best and easiest method. ' Vacuuming followed by a quick steam will refresh your curtains instantly, and it can be done whilst they're on the rail.

How can I freshen my curtains without washing them? ›

How to clean curtains
  1. Vacuum your curtains. ...
  2. Shake them out while hanging. ...
  3. Brush away any tiny fibres. ...
  4. Steam clean curtains. ...
  5. Deodorise. ...
  6. Clean windows with care. ...
  7. Allow your curtains to breathe.
Oct 17, 2017

What is the best thing to wash curtains in? ›

So when machine-washing curtains and draperies, use the gentle cycle, cool or lukewarm water, and mild detergent. If possible, hang on a clothesline to dry, or put them in a clothes dryer on a no-heat or delicate setting.

How do you clean curtains fast? ›

How to clean curtains at home like a pro in 5 easy steps.
  2. Prepare your curtains for the washer. ...
  4. Dry your curtains in two parts. ...
  5. Iron the curtainS so they look fresh.
May 26, 2020

Does vinegar clean curtains? ›

Place in the washing machine (or bathtub if you want to handwash). Add laundry detergent and 1/2 Cup baking soda & wash on a cold wash. Add 1 Cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Remove from machine before spin cycle and hang out to dry.

Can you wash curtains with dish soap? ›

Fill your tub or sink with lukewarm or cool water and add a small amount of mild liquid dish detergent. Make sure you check the label to add a suitable amount of detergent. Swish the curtain lightly, but do not twist or wring it. Finally, let the curtain air dry.

Is it good to wash curtains in the washing machine? ›

' The answer is yes, but only in some cases. Many curtains will have a washing label, so try to find this and read the manufacturer's advice before you proceed. These instructions will show you the best way to wash curtains and let you know if it is safe to pop them into the washing machine, and at what temperature.

How do you make old curtains look new? ›

Here are a few crafty ways to update old curtains and give them a much-needed facelift!
  1. Use the Shibori Technique.
  2. Swap Out Curtain Rods.
  3. Add Trim.
  4. Hang a Mini Garden.
  5. Layer Your Curtains.
  6. Lengthen Your Curtains.
  7. Update Holdbacks or Tiebacks.
  8. Try Macramé
Aug 26, 2020

What happens if you don't wash curtains? ›

Allergies: Curtains can trap a variety of common allergens including dust, pollen, mould spores and pet hair and dander. If you or a member of your family is an allergy sufferer, frequent curtain cleaning should be an essential part of your household routine. Mould occurs in damp conditions, particularly during winter.

Is it better to steam clean or dry clean curtains? ›

Dry cleaning is the most preferred method for curtains that are lined. Fabrics that are delicate like silk, chiffon, embroidered curtain, embellished curtains do require dry cleaning so that the fabric does not shrink and the embellishments do not damage.

How often should curtains be washed? ›

As such, you're probably wondering how often you have to tackle this extra chore. Well, friends, the ACI recommends washing your curtains every three to six months and spritzing them with a fabric refresher to neutralize odors and extend the freshness window in between washings.

Will vinegar bleach curtains? ›

In addition to cleaning sugar, baking soda and tablets, you can also whiten your curtains by washing them with vinegar. It is considered that vinegar is one of the most natural cleaning methods.

How do you whiten dingy curtains? ›

Natural remedies often involve washing, but even just using fabric softener can help whiten your curtains. If you've washed them often but they still look yellowed, try washing them on a delicate wash in the washing machine and putting 1 tablespoon of water with 2 tablespoons of vinegar added, into the softener tray.

Can you spray white vinegar on curtains? ›

If you want a natural way to remove smells from your curtains, you can make a vinegar and lemon spray. Simply mix equal parts water, white vinegar, and lemon juice in a spray bottle and spritz it on your curtains. Let the curtains air dry for best results.

Does Dawn dish soap clean windows? ›

It's fine to use a commercial window cleaning spray, but you can also make your own that's just as effective—and much cheaper. Combine about 8 ounces of hot water with a drop or two of Dawn dish soap—which is great for cutting grease and grime, says Fisk—in a spray bottle.

Can I wash curtains with metal rings in washing machine? ›

It's totally fine to wash curtains with grommets in the washing machine, as long as you set your machine to the delicate wash cycle, which will help prevent potential damage.

What happens if you put dry clean only curtains in the washing machine? ›

Many Dry Clean Only fabrics are not colorfast. Washing could destroy any beading, sequins or lace. Dry cleaning is a more gentle process and professional cleaners know how to protect those delicate trimmings. Fabric pilling.

How do you get mildew out of curtains without washing them? ›

Brushing the curtain fabric with a stiff-bristled brush is the first step to removing some mould and mildew. This helps get rid of stubborn spots. You can also vacuum them instead of brushing, but you'll need to throw out the vacuum bag afterward, since it will likely be contaminated by mould and mildew spores.

Do curtains have to be washed regularly? ›

Master Dry Cleaners recommend the following approximate timeframes for the washing of curtains: Hypoallergenic family: Every 3 – 6 months. Living in a dusty area: Every 6 – 12 months. Living near the sea: Every 6 – 12 months.

Do curtains need to be washed? ›

Curtains naturally attract dust and absorb odors over time. It is recommended to clean your curtains every 3 to 6 months. Having your curtains cleaned on a regular basis is a good idea to keep your house fresh and clean.

Will Dawn and vinegar remove mildew? ›

There are 4 simple ingredients you can safely use to clean away mold in your home: white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and detergent or soap.

Does Dawn remove mildew? ›

Does Dish Soap Kill Mold? Dish soap doesn't exactly kill mold, but it can be used to remove visible mold. When added to water, dish soap acts as a surfactant that helps detach mold and mold spores from surfaces, making them easier to scrub off.

Will vinegar remove mildew from curtains? ›

Cleaning Mould from Curtains

A stain remover can be used on any discoloured areas, or you can use a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to help with both the discolouration and the smell. Your curtains can then be washed in a hot cycle in your washing machine to kill any mould on the fabric.

Why can't you wash curtains? ›

If your curtains are brand new, we recommend you avoid self-washing because washing dry clean curtains only can certainly cause damage you will regret. To make your new house feel like home is a must but risk a brand new set of curtains going to waste is simply not worth the risk.

How often should you wash your drapes? ›

To ensure that your drapes last, regular cleaning is required. If any of the people who live in your home are sensitive to dust, it's best to clean your drapes yearly. Otherwise, every three to five years should suffice.

How often should you change curtains in your house? ›

There's no given rule to how often you should take those curtains down to give them a clean, can we suggest a twice-yearly approach though, to help you keep on top of those household chores. Changing curtains twice a year gives you the opportunity to have summer or winter curtains.

How often should I wash my bed sheets? ›

How Often You Should Wash Your Sheets (And How to Get Them Really Clean) Experts recommend washing or changing sheets once a week.

Should you use fabric softener when washing curtains? ›

'Avoid using bleach or fabric softener, since they might harm or fade the fabric. ' The label might stipulate that the curtains can be washed but that this should be done by hand. 'Curtains that must be hand-washed can be cleaned the same way you wash delicate clothing,' says Kelly.

How do you get dust out of drapes? ›

Along with shaking or vacuuming the curtains, remove the dust on the top pleats or on the top flat surface of the window treatment. You can do this with an extendable microfiber duster to catch the settled dust and pull it off the fabric. To remove a buildup of dust on your curtains, your dryer can help.


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