Draperies are those formal, pleated curtains that typically hang in a living or dining room window. These custom made window covering are often made of a heavy and ornate fabric, and lined to prevent light from entering the room and to provide privacy.
Draperies often are the dirtiest textile in the house and over a short period of time, can become quite dusty and stale smelling. This is because draperies act as a sort of air filter, catching particles of dust and dirt stirred up in the air by air vents and ceiling fans. Since draperies do act as a sort of barrier between the outside of your home and the interior, they also tend to catch those dirt particles that come in through the window, along with tiny spiders which make their webs in the pleats.
With all that dust and debris floating around, it’s really no great wonder why draperies turn dingy over time, and pick up stale odours.
The easiest way to care for draperies is to hoover them on a regular basis. Some manufacturers recommend a thorough hoovering once every season, or four times a year.
In homes with pets, or older homes that are not as tightly sealed or regularly have windows opened, hoovering should be part of a weekly cleaning routine.
To hoover drapes, use the dusting attachment that came with the hoover. This is typically a round brush with short bristles. Start at the top of the draperies, and work your way down. Be sure to vacuum the back as well as the front, and hoover inside the pleats as well. The pleats tend to trap quite a bit of dust along with cobwebs and spiders, especially towards the top where they are tightly gathered.
How to freshen draperies
While regular hoovering will help keep the dust from turning draperies dingy, it won’t remove stale odours.
Some of my friends prefer spraying their draperies with a product such as Febreeze. For myself, I prefer to remove the drapes from the rod, and drape them over the clothesline in filtered sunlight. Several hours outside is usually enough to remove most of the odours trapped in the drapery fabric. For those really stubborn odours, a light sprinkling of baking soda followed by a vacuuming does an excellent job of freshening up draperies. Do test a small area of the fabric first however, before sprinkling baking soda over the entire set.
For draperies that are heavily soiled, water damaged by condensation, or smell of cooking oils or smoke, these must be sent out for dry cleaning.
Most drapery fabrics are not machine washable, and will fade, shrink, and become shapeless with home laundering, even when washed by hand. The only safe method of cleaning soiled draperies is by dry cleaning, at a reputable dry cleaning shop that is experienced at working with drapery fabrics. Check with family and friends for an establishment they can recommend.
Custom draperies are an expensive investment. With proper cleaning and regular care, they can provide a beautiful accent to your home decor for many years.