Curtains are an essential element in home decoration. Sometimes they go almost unnoticed, due to the habit of always seeing them there in their place, but it is enough if they are not there one day to verify their importance. Therefore, they deserve as much care as any other object present in the house. However, sometimes it happens that long periods go by without the curtains being subjected to a good cleaning.
Four tricks to return shrunken clothes to their initial size
How often should they be washed? Well, curtains accumulate dust and dirt just like furniture and other elements. Because of that, the general recommendation is to wash them every three months. One way to remember it is to do it with each change of season. However, a little more time may be allowed to pass if you take steps to prolong their good condition, such as frequent shaking or vacuuming to remove dust.
Conversely, other conditions may make the time between washes even shorter. This is the case of kitchen curtains, which get more dirty, due to being in contact with fatty vapors and strong odors. To prevent them from becoming impregnated with these smells and dirt, they should be washed more frequently.
If there are pets in the house, it is also likely that a more assiduous cleaning is necessary, due to the hairs and other dirt derived from the presence of the animals. And the same if people who smoke inside live there or even if the area suffers from high levels of pollution in the environment.
And also if there are babies in the home, the hygiene of the curtains is essential, since mites and other microorganisms harmful to very young children can accumulate on their surfaces.
How do we know if we can use the washing machine?
Of course, the most practical way to wash them is to use the washing machine. But you have to be very careful, because it is not something that can be done with all the curtains. With certain types of materials or fabrics there is a risk, if they are put in the washing machine, that they will shrink or become ruined.
How to know then if they can be washed with a washing machine or not? The simplest thing is to look at the washing label. There it is indicated if the garment is suitable for this type of procedure, as well as – in most cases – the most appropriate water temperature and instructions for drying and ironing are also reported.
In case the curtain does not have a label, the best thing to do is to consult the place where it was purchased. If this is not possible, the composition of the fabric must be analyzed. In general, cotton, nylon or polyester fabrics can be put in the washing machine without any problems.
But if it were more delicate materials, such as silk or velvet, it would be advisable not to take risks and avoid the washing machine. In that case, they would need to be hand washed or taken to the dry cleaner for dry cleaning.
Tips not to damage the curtains or the washing machine
Once it is clear that the washing machine can be used, the procedure is simple, although some care must be taken. One of the most important involves removing all hooks, rings, and other items that could come loose during washing and later damage the appliance.
If the curtain has rings or other rigid parts that cannot be removed, and especially if these are not made of plastic but metal, it is advisable to place the curtains in washing bags. In case these laundry bags (made of mesh fabric) are not available, a pillowcase can be used, tied with a rope. The objective is to prevent these rigid parts from hitting against the washing machine drum and could cause any breakage or damage.
Another measure to take care of the appliance – and also to achieve optimal washing – is not to put too many garments together. If the curtains are placed in a large quantity they can exceed the capacity of the washing machine. As a result, stains may remain. In addition, overexertion shortens the life of the appliance.
When a curtain has very visible dirt (stains of humidity, food or liquids that have been spilled on it, etc.), it is advisable to let it soak for a while or do a previous wash in that particular area.
Such a prewash can be done with some stain remover liquid, with a mixture of vinegar and bicarbonate or with dish detergent. In white curtains made with not very delicate fabrics, you can even use bleach (actually, a solution of one part bleach to nine parts of water, given the power of its action).
And you also have to be careful not to mix curtains of different colors in the same laundry. Good quality pieces can fade and cause stains on other garments, a problem that later becomes very difficult – sometimes impossible – to fix.
Detergent, programs, spin and other keys
A mild and low-quantity detergent should be used. In the washing machine, you must choose a program for delicate fabrics and with cold or warm water (not higher than 30 ºC). Hot water is one of the biggest risk factors for fabrics to shrink.
You also have to be very careful with spinning: so that there are not many wrinkles and also the fabrics do not deteriorate, this process must be gentle (at no more than 400 revolutions per minute). You can even choose not to spin, especially on sunny days with low humidity, when clothes dry faster.
After washing, it is advisable to remove them from the washing machine and hang them out to dry as soon as possible. In this way, they are prevented from taking on a bad smell, and in addition, on many occasions, it is not necessary to iron them, since possible wrinkles are eliminated -while the fabric dries- by the effect of gravity.
What if you have to wash them by hand?
In the aforementioned cases in which it is preferable to avoid the washing machine, the solution is to use a large basin or the bathtub. There, always with cold or warm water, the curtains can be left for several hours, stirring the soapy water from time to time to soften and remove the dirt from the fabric.
Later you can apply water with fabric softener and then rinse with plenty of water, and tend to dry as explained. The other option, of course, is to take the curtains to the dry cleaner, perhaps the most comfortable alternative, although – of course – less economical.
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