Benefits of drapery cleaning
When it comes to cleaning, window treatments are often overlooked, and drapes might be the last thing you might think needs to be cleaned.
Drapery and curtains can be aesthetically pleasing while still trapping an overwhelming amount of harmful pollutants in the home. The accumulation of dirt and dust can be quite significant in these window accessories.
Eventually, the physical appearence of your curtains or drapes will diminsh without proper cleaning. The color, texture and pattern of window treatments contribute to the decor of a room, as well as modulate light, heat and noise.
Regularly cleaning drapes and curtains prolongs the life of the fabric and keeps colors from becoming dingy.
The net-like structure of a fabric’s weave acts like a sieve that traps small particles, mold, insects and dust. Spring and summer are the worst for bringing with them excessive amounts of dust and pollen, both of which readily cling to the window treatments in your home.
Cleaning window treatments reduces buildup of allergens like dust mites, animal hair and dander, which may offer some relief to those with allergies or asthma.
Drapery of all types tend to accumulate dust and other small particles of debris more noticeably than do other surfaces. This is largely due to the fact that drapes are located directly adjacent to windows and doors, where sunlight can reach it easily.
If drapes are touched often, natural oils in the skin can leave residue that builds up and attracts further dust. Without proper and regular cleaning, dusty and grimy blinds begin to look dull and discolored, detracting from the beauty of the window or door that they cover.
Types of curtains and drapes
Before cleaning drapes, first determine the fabric content, color-fastness of dyes and type of weave.
Drapes can be made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen, silk and wool, as well as synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon and blends. Some materials can be laundered, while others must be dry-cleaned or professionally cleaned.
Wool and cotton fibers often shrink when washed. If drapes are lined, both the lining and drapery fabric must be washable. Always check the manufacturer’s label before washing.
The weave of a fabric affects how easily the material can be cleaned. Open weaves tend to snag. Trim or other decorative embellishments are often fragile and do not launder well. Pleated drapes should not be laundered.
Some fabrics are treated with sizing to maintain crispness. Water-repellant or flame-retardant coatings are also commonly used. Home laundering may remove a chemical coating, reducing its effectiveness. Flame-retardant chemicals can be hazardous when released into the environment.
How to clean curtains and drapes
Vacuuming is the best way to regularly clean drapery.
Remove curtains or drapes, place them on a solid surface and vacuum them thoroughly with an upholstery brush. A crevice tool can be used to reach into pleats and folds. Valances should also be vacuumed.
Professional cleaning services use equipment that surpasses the ability of home vacuums to clean drapes and upholstery.
A trained professional will evaluate the fabric content and extent of soil in the drapes and recommend a cleaning program. Professional treatment may include using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter machine to remove particles, steam-cleaning or using ultraviolet light to kill mold, fungus and other micro-organisms that may linger in the fabric of drapes.
To ensure safety of cleaning products in the home, consumers can use products listed by the U.S. Environmental Protectional Agenca Design for the Environment (DfE) that are scientifically verified to be safer for the environment.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the Department of Health and Human Services provides information about chemicals in cleaning products and suggests safer alternatives, a partnership between the EPA, industry associations and environmental organizations, provides a directory of alternative cleaning product ingredients known to have less impact on health and the environment.