Cleaning curtains is one of those household chores that people put off for years. The process of taking them down, washing, pressing and re-hanging them is a laborious one — which is why many people simply replace them.
However, you can keep your curtains and drapes in tip-top condition without taking them down first. As long as you have the correct tools at your disposal, curtain cleaning could be a lot easier than you think.
If all you’re dealing with is dust, a powerful vacuum cleaner with a long attachment should be all you need to clean your curtains. For the best results, however, you should use a cleaning system that is mobile and lightweight. You might need to use ladders or a step to access the very top of your curtains, and the only way to do this safely is to keep both hands free. Use a soft brush attachment to get rid of stubborn dust and dirt, and vacuum regularly to keep on top of the situation.
2. Shake them out
Using a set of ladders (with someone holding them steady for you), climb to the top of your curtains and shake them hard from somewhere near the pole or rod. This will dislodge stubborn dust and dirt — although you’ll need to vacuum the surrounding areas of floor afterwards.
3. Brush away any tiny fibres
Certain types of curtain can attract dust and fabric fibres — commonly referred to as lint — which can stick to material even during vacuuming. If you notice that your vacuum cleaner hasn’t removed all the lint, use a lint roller or brush. To ensure you catch everything, have someone pull the curtains outwards and flat for you.
4. Use the power of steam
If you notice that your curtains are greasy or have unsightly stains, a mere vacuum cleaner won’t be sufficient. But rather than taking them down and cleaning them, you can remove stains while your curtains are in situ — with the power of steam. A powerful, handheld steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment can often dislodge stains and dirt from curtains with the minimum of effort.
Gentle, vertical strokes with the steam cleaner head should penetrate the fibres without drenching them. Work in small sections to ensure you cover every square inch, but make sure your steam cleaner is switched to the most gentle setting. This method of curtain cleaning is particularly effective if your curtains are thick and made with natural fibres.
NOTE: Always check the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines before cleaning your curtains with steam.
A good steam cleaner should be able to remove most unwanted odours from curtains. However, if any remain, you might need to take a few extra steps. For instance, an upholstery deodoriser in spray form is ideal for making curtains smell fresh and clean. To keep the surrounding areas fresh, place a bowl of baking powder and your favourite essential oil on the windowsill.
6. Clean windows with care
Curtains often become dirty or stained when the windows they cover are cleaned. Make sure you’re not giving yourself an extra cleaning job by spraying your cloth, and not the window pane itself. Otherwise, cleaning agents, grease and dirt will find their way onto your curtains.
7. Allow your curtains to breathe
It is important to give your curtains lots of fresh air — both after cleaning and at regular intervals during the average week. Not only will this prevent unwanted odours, it will help to prevent the build-up of mould.
Don’t go to the expense and hassle of having your curtains professionally cleaned when you don’t need to. Cleaning them while they’re still hanging could deliver the results you’re looking for.