The Art of Clean: How to Wash Linen Curtains

Linen curtains, while being the most luxurious curtains, can be a bit tricky to keep clean. However, your window treatments should not be neglected; a regular (or once every 10 years) cleaning routine will keep them looking good as new.

Curtains are one of my top three interior design priorities in every room. I happened upon huge pair of linen drapes that my mom could no longer use, but they were filthy. First thing, they needed a serious cleaning.

linen curtains washing

But how exactly should you clean linen curtains? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the best way to wash linen curtains and I will share with you what worked for me and what didn’t.

Step 1: Checking the Care Label

The first step in any cleaning process involves checking the care label for the manufacturer’s instructions (if they are there). The type of fabric will dictate how you clean your curtains. In most cases, linen curtains call for “dry cleaning only”.

There aren’t many times that I ignore the manufacturer’s instructions, but white linen drapes are one occasion. If you dry clean white linen drapes they get yellow.  

Even if your linen curtains say they are machine-washable, you might want to consider hand washing as the safest bet. Linen is known to shrink when exposed to too much water or heat.

Step 2: Preparing Your Curtains for Washing

Before you wash curtains, it’s a good idea to remove any surface dust. If you’ve got a lot of dust or pet hair on your curtains, a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment could be your best friend.

For heavy fabrics, it might be more efficient to use an upholstery attachment. If you have metal rings or curtain weights, if possible remove them prior to washing to avoid damage.

I skipped this step because the curtains weren’t hanging when I got them.

Step 3: Washing Your Curtains

I was very hesitant to wash my linen curtains in the washing machine, even on the delicate cycle.  I tried a couple of methods, one was much more successful than the other.

The first method I used to clean my linen curtains didn’t seem to do much.  I placed the curtains in a dryer with a wet towel and ran the machine with no heat.  They still looked dirty when the cycle was complete. 

hot towel method

Next, I decided to try handwashing my linen curtains.  

  • I placed them in a large tub of cold water with Oxyclean and just let them soak.  
  • rinsed them with cold water then removed as much water as possible without wringing the curtains.
  • I dried them outside on the line, but you could dry them on a flat surface. Do NOT put them in the dryer.

 I was surprised at how much better they looked and how dirty the water was!!

A spot test in an inconspicuous area is always a good idea before washing the entire curtain to ensure there’s no color change or damage.

Step 4: Drying Your Curtains

After the washing process, rinse your curtains thoroughly with cold water. Remove excess water gently. Never wring out your curtains, as this can damage the fabric of your curtains.

Other machine-washable curtains can be dried on a low temperature or delicate cycle to minimize potential shrinking, but drying wet linen in a dryer is risky. I would not do it based on my experience with linen in the dryer.

The best option is to dry them outdoors in the sun. Second best, hang them up inside or lie them flat.

Step 5: Ironing and Rehanging Your Curtains

Some fabric types might require you to iron them while still damp, while others can be ironed once they’re dry. Use a low heat setting to avoid damaging the fabric of your curtains.

The easiest way to avoid wrinkles is to rehang your curtains while they’re still slightly damp. In fact, you can skip the ironing and use a handheld steamer to relax the wrinkles if you are not a fan of ironing (like me).

Keeping Your Curtains in Good Shape

To keep your curtains looking their best, try to clean them on a regular basis. Spring cleaning is the only time many people remember to clean curtains, but dust bunnies don’t just breed in the spring!

Also, consider investing in a steam cleaner or vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment. These tools can be highly effective for regular cleaning and can help prolong the life of your curtains.

It’s always a good idea to keep your curtains in good shape, and with these instructions, your curtains will look as good as new.

If you liked this post you might enjoy how to get white sheets white again or how to make linen curtains out of sheets.

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