Blackout curtains have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to block out light and create an ideal sleep environment. However, as with any fabric product used in the home, questions arise regarding the proper care and cleaning of blackout curtains. Specifically, many wonder – can you machine wash blackout curtains?
The answer, like many laundry questions, is…it depends! The machine washability of these curtains depends on the fabric, construction, and any special coatings or treatments applied to the curtains. To determine if your specific blackout curtains are machine washable, always check the manufacturer’s care label. This will provide washing instructions and indicate if the curtains can be safely laundered.
When in doubt, take a more conservative cleaning approach. Though some types of blackout curtains may be machine washed, others are better cleaned using gentler methods to preserve the light-blocking function and integrity of the fabric. Read on for tips on determining washability and best practices for keeping your curtains looking their best.
Checking the Care Label
The first step in cleaning any curtain is to locate the manufacturer’s care label, usually sewn into the top back corner of the curtain panel. This label will indicate if the curtain is machine washable and provide care instructions.
If the label states the curtains should be “Machine Washed Cold” or provides other washing directions, you are safe to launder them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle.
However, if the instructions say “Dry Clean Only” or “Spot Clean Only“, skip the washing machine to prevent damage.
When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Hand wash or spot clean the curtains to preserve the fabric and any coatings designed to block light.
The fabric composition of the blackout curtains should also be considered when determining machine washability. Delicate fabrics like silk, linen, or velvet blackout curtains should not be machine washed, while sturdy cotton and polyester blends often can.
However, even 100% cotton blackout curtains might have coatings or films applied to the fabric as part of the light-blocking technology. These treatments can be damaged by machine washing. When uncertain, default to a more delicate cleaning method.
In addition to fabric content, the construction of these curtain panels can provide clues to their washability. curtains with grommets or BACK TAB headings, where the lining attaches only at the top, can be more safely washed than CURTAINS WITH FULL LININGS that are completely backed. Agitation from machine washing can separate loosely backed linings.
Blackout curtains with pleats, embroidery, or embellishments are also best gently cleaned by hand or spot treated to preserve decorative details.
Consider Coatings & Films
Many blackout curtains achieve their light-blocking ability through coatings or films laminated to the backside of the fabric. These can include:
- Acrylic or latex coatings
- Metalized fabric coatings
- Polymer films
- Aluminum or other metalized films
- Foam or insulated backing
The coatings are typically heat-set or adhesive bonded to the base fabric. Machine washing can strip away these coatings, damaging the curtains and rendering them ineffective as blackouts. Check for cracking or peeling coatings before attempting to machine wash – if present, discontinue machine washing to avoid further damage.
When in Doubt, Spot Clean
If the care label is missing or you are still uncertain about the washability of your blackout curtains, spot cleaning by hand is the safest option. To clean:
- Mix a mild detergent with warm water in a spray bottle. Avoid harsh chemicals.
- Spritz stained or soiled areas of the curtain.
- Blot stains gently with a soft sponge or lint-free cloth. Avoid vigorous rubbing.
- Rinse cleaned areas with fresh water and blot dry with a towel.
- Allow curtains to fully air dry before re-hanging.
This manual method will safely lift dirt and stains without risking damage to fabric and coatings. Vinegar or fabric fresheners can also be used to lift odors and refresh your curtains.
Gently Machine Washing Blackout Curtains
If care labels confirm your they are machine washable, follow these best practices for safely laundering them:
- Wash curtains separately from other items to prevent snags.
- Use mesh wash bags for delicates to prevent curtain tangling and tearing.
- Wash on the gentle cycle using cold water. Hot water can damage coatings.
- Limit washing machine agitation by selecting a low or no spin setting.
- Use a mild liquid laundry detergent, avoiding bleach or fabric softener.
- Shake out curtains after washing to prevent hanging while wet. Allow to fully air dry.
Take added care when moving curtains from washer to dryer, as wet coatings are especially prone to peeling or cracking. Never place blackout curtains in the dryer, as heat damages coatings and films.
Proper Drying & Ironing
Always air-dry blackout curtains fully before returning them to the window. Hang or lay flat to completely dry curtains and prevent mildew. Avoid direct sunlight to prevent fading.
Ironing can be done on low heat if needed to remove wrinkles and according to care label guidelines. Use a press cloth to avoid direct contact with any coatings, which can melt from iron heat.
Regular Cleaning for Fresh Blackouts
Implementing a regular cleaning routine helps maintain their appearance and function over time. Try these pro tips:
- Vacuum curtains 1-2 times per month using a soft brush attachment.
- Spot clean as needed to treat stains and soiled spots.
- Wash according to manufacturer’s instructions 2-3 times per year.
- Check for cracking or peeling coatings before washing. Discontinue machine washing if present.
- Rotate panels if one side receives more light exposure.
With proper care and cleaning according to fabric content and construction, they can effectively block light in the home for many years. Always defer to manufacturer cleaning guidelines, handle gently if uncertain, and take care to completely dry curtains after washing. Implementing regular cleaning will help keep blackout curtains fresh and functional.
What is the rule of thumb for washing blackout curtains?
The rule of thumb is to always check the manufacturer’s care label, which will indicate if the blackout curtains are machine washable or if a more delicate cleaning method is required. When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and gently hand wash or spot clean the curtains.
Can you use a washing machine to deep clean blackout curtains?
You can use a washing machine to deep clean curtains only if the care label specifically states the curtains are machine washable. Use a delicate cycle with cold water and mild detergent. Avoid machine washing curtains with coatings that are cracked or peeling.
How can you pre-treat stains on blackout curtains before washing?
Mix a mild detergent with warm soapy water and use a soft sponge or lint roller to gently blot at stains before washing your curtains. This spot cleaning can lift stains without damaging the curtain material.
What temperature water should be used when washing blackout curtains?
Always use cold water when machine washing blackout curtains, never hot. Hot water can damage coatings or treatments on the curtain material designed to block light.
Why should you avoid putting blackout curtains in the dryer after washing?
The heat of the dryer can damage coatings or films on curtain materials. It’s best to simply hang your curtains and allow them to fully air dry after washing.
How can you safely hand wash blackout curtains?
To hand wash, fill a basin with cool soapy water and gently immerse the curtains. Swirl and squeeze to release dirt without vigorous rubbing. Rinse with clean water until soap is removed. Hang to air dry completely.
Can steam cleaning be used to clean blackout curtains?
If the care label indicates “Dry Clean Only“, steam cleaning is gentler than machine washing. The steam helps sanitize curtains without put them fully in water.
How should you dry blackout curtains after washing them?
Always hang the curtains or lay them flat to air dry fully after washing. Do not place in direct sunlight or the dryer, which can damage curtain materials. Allowing curtains to completely air dry prevents mildew.
What are the risks of machine washing blackout curtains?
Agitation and spinning in a washing machine can damage coatings applied to blackout curtain fabric. These coatings provide light-blocking ability. Hot water can also ruin them.
How can you remove excess water from hand-washed curtains?
After hand washing in soapy water, rinse with clean water. Roll curtains in a towel to absorb excess water. Do not wring or twist curtains, which can damage materials.
Why should blackout curtains be washed separately from other laundry?
Wash curtains separately with no other items to prevent snags or the curtains catching on other materials in the washing machine drum. Use a mesh bag for delicate fabrics.
How should blackout curtains be hung to dry after washing?
Carefully hang washed curtains using curtain hooks evenly spaced along the header. Stretch curtains fully to prevent uneven drying that can leave wrinkles. Air drying prevents heat damage.