Drapes are an important part of a home and room’s decor. However, once Drapes are up in a home they can be something that we tend to forget about amongst all our other daily tasks. To keep the pleasing aesthetic quality that drapes provide it is necessary to follow some particular procedure in drapery maintenance.
In addition to being an important part of decor, drapes modulate light, heat and noise. This location that they occupy also places them in a position to filter dust and debris out of the air as it circulates in a home. Regular cleaning of drapes to mitigate the effects of these elements, will help maintain the colors in drapes and prolong their life. Cleaning will also reduce the build up of allergens such as pollen, dust mites, dander, etc.
For regular maintenance, vacuuming with your household vacuum works well. You can vacuum them in place, or remove them and place them on a solid flat surface. Use an upholstery brush or soft attachment for the main surface areas and a crevice tool to reach into pleats and fold. When you are vacuuming your drapes, this is a good time to clean the windows and the window ledges.
Instead of vacuuming, you can also spruce up your draperies by taking them down and placing them in the dryer on the no heat or fluff setting with a couple of scented dryer sheets. Make sure to take out any pins or hooks first to avoid damage from the tumbling. Run the dryer for 10-15 minutes. Excess dust will be removed and the drapes fluffed up with a nice scent.
Before deciding how your drapes need to be cleaned, you first need to determine the type of fabric, how color fast the dyes are, and the type of weave. These determinations will tell you weather the drapes can be laundered, or it they need to be dry cleaned. Wool and cotton fabrics will often shrink 10-15% when washed but won’t shrink if dry cleaned. Brighter colors are more likely to run when laundered then duller colors. Drapes with open weaves tend to snag, and drapes with decorative ornaments and frills do not launder well. Pleated drapes will loose their pleats if laundered and should be dry cleaned. Washing will tend to make fabric more limp like then dry cleaning. Synthetic drapes lend themselves more to being laundered then natural fiber drapes. The bottom line – if your drapes are expensive they should most likely be dry cleaned when it is time for a thorough cleaning!
If you have determined that washing is your option, hand wash each panel in cool water and a gentle detergent such as Woolite. For large drapes you may need to use your bathtub. If your testing and experience determine that the drapes aren’t that delicate, use a washer on the gentle cycle with warm or cold water and mild detergent. Don’t overload the washer. Go to a laundry mat if they are too big for your washing machine. Hang the drapes for drying if you have the facilities. If using the dryer put on no heat or fluff setting. Don’t let them sit too long in the dryer after to avoid wrinkles setting in. If ironing is needed, don’t get it too warm. Test it in the most inconspicuous area first to make sure. It is also often safer to iron the back side of a drape and not the finished side which might be more sensitive.