Curtains naturally attract dust and absorb odours. So if you want to keep your house clean, bright and smelling fresh, it’s important to wash them regularly.
The problem with curtains is that once you hang them, it’s easy to forget all about them. Tasks like cleaning kitchen counters and vacuuming the floors may be tedious, but they have to be done regularly. Because curtains need attention less often, it’s possible to overlook them completely – at least until you suddenly notice they’ve become a terrible eyesore.
So how often should you clean your curtains?
General curtain cleaning
Instead of waiting until curtains are really grimy, it’s best to wash them at least once every three months. This will keep them in good nick, extending the life of the curtains and ensuring that they look and smell clean.
Some curtains are fully machine washable. However, if your curtains are lined, made of silk, linen or another sensitive fabric or include any form of beading or embroidery, you’ll need to have them professionally dry cleaned. This is because the water, heat and friction associated with machine washing may all cause the fabric to shrink, fade or be damaged in other ways.
Even if curtains are machine washable, it’s a good idea to have them professionally cleaned if they’ve become badly stained.
When to wash curtains more often
In dusty areas
You may need to wash your curtains more often than three-monthly if you’re in a dusty part of the country. Curtains are practically filters for the dust and other airborne particles that enter our houses through open windows. So you’ll need to wash them more often if you’re in a dust-prone area or live near a heavily used road.
If you suffer from allergies
If you or a family member suffers from allergies, it’s also important to wash your curtains more often. Curtain fabric is a trap for a range of common allergens, including dust, pollen, mould spores and hair and dander from pets. Mould is especially common on curtains in winter, when windows aren’t opened as often and conditions are damp. As well as triggering allergies, mould spores can eventually eat through curtain fabric, damaging it permanently. So deal with possible mould spores early rather than later.
If you machine wash curtains, note that it’s vital to dry them properly, preferably in plenty of fresh air and sunlight, before hanging them again. Depending on the fabric, it’s also a good idea to iron them, not just to get rid of creases but to take care of any remaining mould spores.
If you smoke
If you or a family member smokes, or if you have a smoker guest to stay, all the curtains in your home will trap smoke particles. They’ll absorb the smell of the smoke and, over time, may even start to yellow. So if your curtains are in a smoky environment, it’s best to wash them every two months or even more often. Whenever possible, also open everything up and let plenty of fresh air flow through the house.
If you live near the sea
If you live near the sea, you already know what salty sea air can do to windows. Within a short period, it deposits a thick layer of salty grime, and this can affect curtains as much as window panes. In these conditions, it’s best to choose hardy curtain fabric that can withstand regular washing – a small hardship if you’re lucky enough to have a sea view!