Part 2: Cleaning Tips for Fabric Shades, Curtains and Drapes

Fabric shades, curtains, and draperies are available in hundreds of fabric choices and styles, which is what makes it such fun to create your own custom window treatments with Budget Blinds®!  Some fabrics require minimal care while others, like embroidered or brocade patterns with layers and linings, can require a bit more consideration or maybe even professional cleaning. How you should clean and care for your window coverings takes into consideration the style of the treatment and the composition of the fabric. You might be able to find a good Housekeeping Service who specializes in things like this for a reasonable price, but sometimes it might be more satisfying to do it yourself.

An important factor to any fabulous window is consistent upkeep, making sure dust and grime never get the upper hand and keeping your fabric shades, curtains and drapes looking vibrant and fresh.  As a start, here are some general guidelines for any type of fabric window treatment:

  • Dust or vacuum both sides of the shade or drape.
  • Pay close attention to the top of curtains and drapes as creases and pleats collect more dust; this includes valances, cornices, swags, cascades, etc.
  • After cleaning, check for any damage, such as loose or broken string loops, torn stitching or drooping hems, and make any repairs.
  • Immediately spot clean any soiled areas on shades and drapes.
  • Do not use strong detergents or spot removers as they can fade the color and weaken fibers.

Now, going style-by-style, here are specific tips for safely maintaining your fabric window coverings.

Pleated Shades

  • Remove the shade from its window; open it and lay out on a clean, flat surface.
  • Gently vacuum first on one side and then the other, following the pleat.
  • To clean fingerprints or soiled spots, use an aerosol spray foam upholstery or fabric cleaners such as Woolite® or ScotchGard®.
  • Spray the foam cleaner and immediately rub the area with a clean, damp sponge (back and forth gently, parallel to the pleats) until stains are removed. Do not crush or wrinkle the fabric.
  • Remove excess water by blotting with a dry cloth; rehang the shade when completely dry.
  • Too frequent cleaning may remove the fullness and body of the pleated fabric.
  • Dry cleaning and ultrasonic cleaning are not recommended.

Cellular or Honeycomb shades

  • Dust with a feather duster, or lightly vacuum with an upholstery attachment.
  • For dust inside the cells, a blow dryer on the lowest, cool air setting will blow the dust-out.
  • Clean with a sponge and a mild detergent/warm water solution and blot dry.
  • Dry cleaning and ultrasonic cleaning are not recommended.
  • Extra care should be used when cleaning opaque/blackout fabrics, as the fabrics could become permanently creased.

Roman Shades

Roman shades come in a wide range of styles, colors, and fabrics, with different fold options from flat to balloon. How you care for your Roman shade is dependent on the fabric, whether it’s washable or not. In either case, frequent dusting or vacuuming will keep your shades looking their best.

For washable fabric Roman shades

  • Dust or vacuum shades to remove loose dirt.
  • Remove all dowels from flat shades; leave strings attached or de-thread and remove them.
  • Wash according to fabric instructions; hang dry to avoid dryer shrinkage.
  • Press or steam out wrinkles; restring and rehang.

For Non-Washable Roman shades

  • Dry clean silk, wool, linen or fiberglass-blend roman shades only when they need cleaning.
  • Tell the dry cleaner if you’ve used any chemical spot removers on the shades.

Soft Horizontal Blinds

  • Occasional light vacuuming with a brush attachment.
  • Spot clean with a soft cloth or sponge, using a mild detergent and warm water.
  • Dry cleaning is not recommended.

Fabric vertical blinds

  • Regularly dust or vacuum with an upholstery attachment, top to bottom, both sides of the vane.
  • For soil removal, take down the vane and lay it on a flat surface. Use a dry fabric cleaner or a sponge with a mild detergent and warm water solution and blot dry. Test any commercial upholstery cleaner on an inconspicuous spot before using.
  • Do not immerse in water or dry clean.

Exception:  Sheer fabric vertical blinds can be washed by unsnapping the fabric from the vanes. Wash on gentle cycle with Woolite, line dry, press or steam on low, snap fabric back on vanes. Do not steam or iron fabric while it is on the vanes as they will be damaged. Do not put fabric in the dryer.

Woven wood, bamboo, and natural material shades

As with wood blinds and shutters, never use water or liquid cleaners on woven wood and natural material shades.

  • Lightly dust with a feather duster or lint-free, soft cloth.
  • Vacuum with an upholstery or brush attachment, side-to-side, working top to bottom
  • If soiled, gently wipe with a lightly dampened white cloth, but don’t get “wet.”

Solar Shades

Solar shades are popular for indoor and outdoor use, often on patios or decks to control sun glare. Outdoors shades will tend to get dusty and dirty quicker, requiring regular cleaning to stay nice.

  • Lightly vacuum both sides of shade using a brush or upholstery attachment.
  • Softly brush with a mild detergent and warm water solution.
  • Rinse thoroughly and allow the shade to dry completely before raising.
  • Do not immerse in water.

Roller Shades

  • Dust with a feather duster or lightly vacuum fabric with an upholstery attachment.
  • Wipe with a damp cloth to clean.
  • Do not immerse in water.

Drapery, curtains, valances, etc.

Experts agree to disagree on how to best maintain drapery. Some recommend dry cleaning; others, like Budget Blinds, do not. The exotic and luscious fabrics that make up many custom drapery treatments can shrink if dry cleaned. Regular and careful vacuuming is usually sufficient to keep draperies in beautiful condition.

  • Pay close attention to the top of the drapery, front and back, since dust and dirt tend to settle in the pleats and gathers.
  • If curtain fabric is washable, follow manufacturer’s care instructions or use cool water, gentle cycle with Woolite and hang to dry; iron while still damp. If drapery is lined, be sure both face fabric and lining are washable.
  • If the curtains aren’t difficult to detach, you can take them outside and shake them for a good dusting.

When dusting and spot cleaning isn’t enough and deeper cleaning is desired, ultrasonic or injection/extraction cleaning with a reputable, professional blind and drapery cleaner is an option. Professional cleaners use a variety of methods to clean window coverings and can vary in their capabilities. (Recommendations from friends is a good place to start, as well as online reviews.) Before you trust your window coverings to any cleaner, know the fabric content you’re dealing with and how it will react to cleaning.

If you’re in the market for new window treatments, you may want to add care and cleaning to the considerations, especially if you have children and pets, or allergy sufferers who require a dust-free environment. Your Budget Blinds Style Consultant can help you select fabrics and styles that will completely satisfy everyone’s needs while providing beautiful and easy-care designs.

A call to your local Budget Blinds® Style Consultant will bring samples and design ideas right into your home so you can shop where your windows are. Call 866-879-9730 today to schedule a FREE, in-home consultation or find the Style Consultant nearest you. Check out our Budget Blinds Design Guide and new Inspired Drapes Lookbook for inspiration.

For Part 1, Cleaning Tips for Window Blinds and Shutters, click here.