How to Care for Your Soft Window Treatments
Does your Wilmington, NC home have soft window treatments adorning its windows?
Your appropriately dressed windows protect your privacy, belongings, and health from the outside world, so they need to be well maintained.
Neglect can compromise the efficiency of your soft window treatments, depriving them of their protective qualities. Common enemies, such as dust, pollen, lint, oils, cigarette smoke, kitchen smoke, heating fumes, mold, ultraviolet (UV) light, and stains from food, water, and dirt break down your curtains, drapes, Roman shades, and valances.
Home improvement is more investing than purchasing, and all good investments – including your window treatments – need proper attention.
The focus of this post will be preserving regulatory and decorative qualities; privacy is the primary purpose of window treatments, but you probably won’t wash your opaque curtains into transparency. Basic cleaning routines are a good form of preventative maintenance. Proper periodic washing can be determined by the fabric types and the instructions on the label. UV light is the biggest rival of textiles, so additional window treatments can reduce stress on the material. The immediate environment around the window can also make your drapery last.
Basic cleaning routines and practices
- Gentle shaking is a simple way to release pollutants from your window fabrics. Grab an edge of the curtain and, after lifting it slightly, wave the edge gently. Striking the curtain, like you would when dusting a rug, can put unneeded stress on the hooks and rod.
- Vacuum your curtains once a month with a soft brush attachment. Keep in mind the delicateness of the material when deciding what attachment to use. Sheers and lace should be washed instead of vacuumed.
- Remove potential stains immediately. Blotting the stain with a damp cloth is effective and safe. Treating stains in curtains is not much different from other fabrics, and informative stain-removing guides can be found online.
How and when to wash (How to read the label)
- “Dry-clean only” is unmistakably clear. Dry cleaning may also be a good option (regardless of what the label says) when the face and lining fabrics are different, when trims or embellishments can’t be washed or removed, when the curtain is pleated, when the curtain is delicate due to damage, or when it is too large for your washing machine. There are several dry cleaners in Wilmington, NC, so make sure you talk with them beforehand to see if they are equipped to handle curtains properly.
- “Dry-clean” cleverly omits the word “only,” hinting that washing it yourself is possible if you so choose. I stand by the viewpoint that paying for dry cleaning is better than paying for new curtains because I ruined them, but your curtains are your curtains. Wash at your own risk.
- “Washable” is easier said than done. First, remove all hooks and embellishments before washing (remove dowels from Roman shades). Next, make sure your curtain fits in the washer; if not, take it somewhere else or wash it by hand. Use cold water, gentle cycles, and mild detergent to prevent damage. Line drying or machine drying are both acceptable; when machine drying, tumble it on low or air. Iron on the reverse side if needed. Make sure the curtain is 100% dry before re-hooking; metal hooks can rust and stain the curtain, and hanging a damp curtain leaves the potential for mold.
- Wash your curtains annually. If the curtains cover a window that is frequently open, or if they are exposed to a part of the house with excess dust or fumes (such as near the garage or kitchen), wash them two to three times a year.
Protect from UV damage by:
- Installing shades or blinds will reduce sun damage. Strong consideration should be given to protecting darker colored curtains in this way since they absorb light and heat and break down faster.
- Installing UV filtering glass, or installing UV tint on existing windows.
- Using a longer curtain rod. Make sure the rod is long enough so that the curtains don’t receive any sunlight when the curtains are completely open.
- Rotating your curtains on the rod. The left edge of the left curtain won’t be exposed, and the right edge will always be closest to the sunlight (we get plenty of sunlight here in Wilmington, NC, so this is an important step to preserving your soft window treatments!). Moving the curtain to the right side of the rod will reverse the roles and prevent the edges from weakening and fraying easily.
- Rotate your curtains by season. Using heavier curtains in the winter and lighter curtains in the summer keeps energy costs down when facing extreme seasonal weather and will hinder wear and tear.
- Keep pollinating plants away from curtains to prevent discoloration.
- Cooking with the range hood open prevents food particles and excess oils from being sent into the air.
- Keep doors near curtains closed when possible to prevent outside dust and moisture from gathering on the decorative face of the curtains. This is especially true near the garage.
- Close heating vents near curtains. If the heating vent is on the floor, install curtains that are shorter than floor length. If a fireplace or wood stove is used for heating, refrain from opening the door or gate unnecessarily.
- Monitor the humidity and temperature indoors since condensation on windows can cause water stains.
Your personal definition of “home” is likely a list of adjectives: cozy, charming, warm, elegant, comfortable, etc. Room by room, detail by detail, inch by inch, those adjectives became objectives until your abode earned the right to be called “home.” Window decor falls among the details, and properly caring for it will keep our spaces feeling like home.