If you like sleeping in a pitch-black room, no matter what time of day it is, you probably have blackout curtains. While it helps insulate our home and save on energy costs, it’s such a hassle to keep clean! So the question I’m asking is, can you wash blackout curtains in the washing machine?
Yes, you can wash blackout curtains in the washing machine. However, the blackout curtain’s special construction, along with the type of materials used, would mean it requires extra care to ensure that the backing and layers are not damaged when washed in the washing machine. Some blackout curtains come with detailed washing instructions so that you can launder with confidence and get the best results.
How to wash Blackout Curtains in the washing machine
Blackout curtains are not your traditional curtain fabric because woven triple weave fabrics are usually used. These fabrics have coated surfaces and their high density yarn are tightly woven together so that the curtains can block light coming from outside.
The sheer size and weight of the curtain fabric, especially when wet, is problematic because not all home laundry machines are meant to handle such a heavy load. This is why it’s never recommended washing curtains using your machine.
Read the Care Label
It’s important to pay attention the care instructions on those tags! The correct cleaning methods will depend upon what kind of symbol is shown.
Curtains should be hand washed if the tag says “dry-clean only” or “do not machine wash”. If you don’t know what they say or how best to clean them, then chances are, any attempt at washing will only result in disaster.
Inspect the entire curtain fabric
Scrutinize how soiled the curtain fabric is. If you can see bits of black mold growing on your curtains and they smell like wet socks from a feet away, then you most definitely need to give them a thorough spot-cleaning, and maybe some light soaking with a bit of deodorizer, before proceeding.
When should you not wash blackout curtains in the washing machine?
1. Look for faded areas, excess soil or damage. If the backing is brittle, peeling or damaged, do not machine-wash. It will only worsen, and some bits of the liner might break off and clog up your washing machine. If damage is minimal, hand-washing is recommended. However, if curtains are considerably damaged, spot-cleaning may be the only solution to prevent further deterioration.
3. Curtain hooks or grommets can scratch and damage the machine in the washing process. If possible, remove the hooks and cover the grommet by gathering it, covering with a soft cloth and tying with fabric scrap. This prevents it from snagging and ripping as it gets swished around.
4. If the curtains has decorative elements or textures may snag or pulled out of the fabric if you put it in the machine.
Deep Cleaning with Vacuum
Use a vacuum cleaner regularly to maintain your curtains’ appearance and ensure that they stay clean. You can do this without taking the curtain off of its rod by using a soft bristled dust attachment for dusting while you have it hanging in place.
You may need to wear something to protect your clothes, like an apron or cleaning overalls.
Start from the top going down, ensuring you vacuum both the front and back of the curtain panels. This keeps dust from building up and makes the need for deep cleaning less frequent and a lot easier.
For a semi-deep clean, you can take your curtains off the rod and spread them across the floor so you can vacuum it as how you would a normal rug.
But before you do this, shake the curtains outside to remove any clinging dirt, dust or other substances which could cause contaminants and allergens to spread inside the house.
If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner, you can use a feather duster, a brush or a lint roller to do your daily curtain dusting.
How to determine if the detergent is mild to use
I recommend testing your chosen detergent on an inconspicuous spot of the fabric first to make sure it won’t damage the curtain. If you use harsh chemicals or bleach, then there’s a good chance that it will alter the coloration in some way – so avoid them!
The type of soap used (the one with blue bits in them) may also leave behind unwanted stains which can be avoided by going with liquid laundry products free from dyes.
To test whether the detergent is suitable or not, dab a little bit of the mild soap on any inconspicuous corner of the curtains, swirl with a damp cloth for a few minutes, and then rinse it off. If your curtains keep their original color, you can feel confident about using that same mild detergent for washing your blackout curtains.
Do not use fabric softener as this may cause any synthetic coating to peel or flake away from the curtain fabric.
How to Spot-Clean Blackout Curtains
In a bowl of warm water, add your choice of laundry soap and mix thoroughly. Use a warm cloth and blot up the stains by dabbing the area. You can also place a small drop of laundry soap straight onto stubborn problem spots and gently rub before rinsing with clean water. Repeat the process until the stain diminishes.
With this method, you may be able to leave the curtains hanging on the rod, but it’s probably best if its taken off the rod and laid flat on the floor so you can apply more pressure to the area you want to clean.
Place the Blackout Curtains In the Washing Machine
Make sure that it’s a front-loading washing machine. A top-loading one is not recommended because the center agitator of other machines can twist the thick fabric around itself and ruin the foam coated fabrics or or fabric construction.
Load the blackout curtains inside the machine separately, don’t ever mix them with any other articles of clothing. Do several laundry batches of the curtain panels to avoid overloading the machine.
Set The Machine In A Gentle or delicate Cycle using Cold water
Set the washing machine’s temperature to do a cool wash cycle on a gentle cycle setting. If your curtains have a latex backing, using hot temperature can seriously warp the lining of your curtains, while a high-intensity setting could potentially break the curtain’s material.
Rinse thoroughly. If the water wasn’t too dirty when you washed the first curtain, reuse with remaining curtain panels, otherwise, drain the washing machine and refill.
After washing, do not twist! Instead, gently wring the fabric to remove moisture. You can also place the blackout curtains on large towels and gently squeeze or apply pressure as you roll them together into a log.
Do not put rubber-backed fabrics in the dryer. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to or dry latex-coated or woven triple weave fabric.
Hand Washing blackout curtains
First, take down your curtains. As with machine-washed curtains, you might want to dust them beforehand, or just give them a good shake to remove dust and dirt.
Find a container that can hold enough water for you to immerse your curtains completely (a bathtub would be perfect). Fill it with warm soapy water. Again, make sure that you use a mild detergent.
The rule of thumb is, add the same amount of soap as you would if you were washing a small load in your washing machine. Immerse the curtains, pushing them down till they are submerged. Soak and Swirl the soapy water and the curtains.
Drying your blackout curtains
When drying your blackout curtains, the best way to prevent damage to the material and prevent wrinkles from developing is to dry them soon after rinsing. But most blackout curtains are not safe to be put in the dryer unless otherwise specified in the tag.
This is especially true for those with a back coating, as the heat from the drier can melt the latex and ruin them. A wet curtain is also heavy and can damage the machine.
Here are some tips to dry your curtains without damaging them
• Remove as much excess water without damaging the backing by squeezing gently between your hands.
• Hanging up your curtains where gravity causes water to drain out easily is a great way to get them dry quickly . You can either hang them from hooks or rods in the window, but if you use this method make sure it can hold the weight of the wet curtain. Place towels under each curtain so any water dripping doesn’t cause spots onto floor below.
• If you want to avoid soapy water spots on your wet curtains, hang them up outside instead of inside where the sun can dry it up quickly. The clothesline will probably more stable as well because it’s designed to hold wet laundry.
• Keep the different curtain panels separate and spread out each panel out to prevent wrinkles from developing while it dries.
• Make sure the coating on the back is separate or doesn’t stick to itself while drying. Allow for good air circulation throughout the fabric to prevent the synthetic coating from sticking together.
• Avoid folding the curtain panels over the line as this can lead to uneven drying due to uneven airflow.
• Ensure you peg on the top where the seam is located so no creases are left halfway down the curtain when you hang it back up. I don’t bother ironing or pressing the curtains, because if it’s a nice sunny and breezy day, all the wrinkles will go away.
Steam cleaning blackout curtains with an upholstery attachment is an excellent method if the curtains just aren’t dirty enough to need a thorough wash.
Using a steam cleaner is quite convenient because you don’t need to take your curtains down to clean them. Not only that, but the steamer stretches out the wrinkles as you clean.
How to Steam Clean your blackout curtains
1. First, fill your steamer cleaner with distilled water to get the best results. Use this for any type of fabric because it will leave mineral residue if you use regular tap water and dark color curtains need special care more than other kinds do!
2. Bring your steamer to temperature by flipping the switch and waiting a few minutes before beginning. In broad strokes, use an up-and-down motion starting from one end of curtain until it is fully saturated with water vapor then move onto another section ensuring that you don’t miss any area the first time around!
3. Hold the steam wand several centimeters from your fabric so that you don’t soak it too much. You just want to moisten it a bit to ensure that you clean it well without pressing hard against the curtain panel that it hits the window. Ensure even coverage by moving slowly before you move to another section.
4. Be sure to take care of any rubber or latex backing. You don’t need to steam it to prevent water from getting trapped behind the fabric layers or causing any heat damage.
Can you Iron blackout curtains?
If you dry your curtains in the sun, or if you steam it, you may skip this step. But if you need to iron out the wrinkles, most blackout curtains can be ironed on low heat. But it’s always good policy to check the care label before doing so!
When the curtains are nearly dry, bring them over to your ironing board. Lay down one curtain with the fabric side up and latex (if applicable) facing downward. Don’t iron the latex side as this might melt the material.
Find your curtains’ top section at the very top edge as you will iron this part first. Make sure that you lay it flat against so it can be pressed nicely as you go over it.
When you’re ironing fully-dried curtains, you can spray it with water to make the iron glide smoothly. If you have a dark-colored blackout curtain, fill up a spray bottle with distilled water so it doesn’t stain your curtain as the mineral deposits in tap water do.
Before you start ironing, you can place a large and thick towel or blanket on the ironing board, lay out the curtain with the fabric side up, then add another layer of blacker, to act as protective layer from direct heat .
Use your fingers or a brush to gently release any wrinkles in the fabric.
Start at one end at the top and slowly move along the width of curtain, repeating it until sections are smooth. You can help smooth out creases by applying a firm pressure, pressing it flat from above if needed!
How to deodorize blackout curtains
A buildup of dust and dirt can cause some curtains to develop an unpleasant odor. But like I said in the previous post about deodorizing musty closets, desterilizing and deodorizing beforehand is vital because it will kill the odor-causing bacteria which might lead into more serious problems such as mold growth.
Throw your musty-smelling curtains into the washing machine along with a deodorizer. This will safely remove any unpleasant smells and make cleaning easier by loosening the stains!
Mixing baking soda with detergent is an excellent way to clean your curtains if you plan on washing them in the tub. You can also use white vinegar instead.
Caution: While vinegar can also be used as a fabric softener as well as a stain remover, it also has a potential to damage the rubber seals in your washing machine.
Dry cleaning blackout curtains
Depending on the curtain material and quality of your fabric, you may be able to take them straight to a professional cleaner without worry.
Just make sure they follow the dry clean instructions on the tag! If you’re unsure about the professional services of your dry cleaner, it might just be safer to wash blackout curtains yourself.
How Often Should You Clean Your Curtains?
As a general rule of thumb, I would recommend to regularly dust your curtains to avoid build up of dust, dirt, and smell, making it harder to do a deep clean. I know it can be such a hassle to clean it, but think of it as a way to relieve stress.
Vacuuming your curtains once or twice a month, and spot clean as needed.
Deep cleaning can be done two or three times per year. But if you or someone in your home suffers from allergies (like I do), you could benefit from deep cleaning your curtains more frequently.
Now that you have read through these tips, you should feel confident about knowing how to wash blackout curtains without potentially damaging it.
Wash blackout curtains regularly to keep your home clean and free from allergens and dust. Just ensure that you use a front-loading washing machine’s set on a delicate cycle using mild detergent and cold water. And always remember to read the care tag first, test out any new detergent, and to not directly iron the latex backing. You’ll do fine!