Definitive Guide to Cleaning your Blackout Curtains

washing, ironing, drying curtains

Blackout curtains are one of the most beloved inventions for people who want a pitch-black sleeping environment. When used correctly, these curtains can block out all sunlight, even in the middle of the day.

However, blackout curtains just like any heavy curtains can easily pick up grime. Whether it be dust, hair, dirt, or even mold, curtains can be one of the biggest hotspots for allergens in your home. In turn, simply being near your curtains can be enough to trigger your allergies. Of course, as curtains become dingier, they often don’t smell very pleasant either.

Needless to say, blackout curtains like any other curtains, need cleaning from time to time. Naturally, you might wonder “do blackout curtains require any special cleaning treatments? Would I clean these curtains the same way that I would with any other curtains?”.

Ultimately, although the cleaning process is pretty straightforward, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Step 1: Examine your curtains

feeling some curtains

First, check any tags on your blackout curtains for any information on washing instructions. Most blackout curtains have pretty much the same washing procedure but if they happen to say “dry-clean only” or “do not machine wash” this obviously might change how you go about cleaning your curtains.

Next, you must observe how dingy the curtains actually are. If you can see bits of black mold growing on your curtains and they smell like wet socks from 4 feet away then you most definitely need to give them a thorough cleaning in the washing machine.

For a thorough clean of your curtains, you may first want to check to see if your laundry detergent is ok to use with your curtains. With mild strength laundry detergent, you most likely will be fine, however, you can test to make sure by dabbing just a bit of the detergent on a corner of your curtains. Once you rinse your test spot out, if your curtains keep their original color, you should be all set to wash the entire set of curtains in the washing machine with that detergent.

However, if your curtains have a latex backing (many do), double-check the condition of the liner. If the latex happens to be becoming brittle or it is peeling off in any way, you likely don’t want to put the curtains in the wash. In the event that some of the liner breaks off in the wash, it could clog up your washing machine.

On the other hand, if your curtains just aren’t that filthy but have a thin layer of dust on them, then you might want to take a different approach. You may simply vacuum your curtains with a handheld vacuum without taking them off the rod. Alternatively, for a slightly more thorough clean, you may wish to take your curtains off the rod, spread them across the floor and vacuum them with a standard vacuum.

Step 2: Washing your blackout curtains in the washing machine

curtains in a washing machine

Once you have determined that your curtains need a thorough washing, dump them into your washing machine and prepare to do a load with no other articles of clothing.

As far as the settings of your washing machine go, you can set the temperature of your appliance to cold. If your curtains have a latex backing, any cycle on a hot temperature can seriously warp the lining of your curtains and ultimately ruin them. A medium temperature may be ok but just to be safe, stick with the cold temperature.

As for the intensity of the cycle, set your washing machine to a gentle cycle setting. A high-intensity setting generally is not good for the fabric of your blackout curtains and could potentially damage them.

If you cant machine wash…

Perhaps the latex backing of your curtains is brittle and breaking down, maybe you don’t have access to a washing machine, or maybe you just want to take a more delicate approach to wash your blackout curtains. Either way, hand washing your curtains is always an option.

In this case, you would simply need to fill up your bathtub with cold water and mix in your mild detergent. Once your bathtub is full enough, you can submerge your curtains in the tub and let them sit for a few minutes before scrubbing them down with a sponge.

Step 3: Drying your blackout curtains

blackout curtains hanging on a clothes line

First and foremost it is important that you absolutely do not put your curtains in the drier if they have a latex backing. It is natural for people to want to do so immediately after using the washing machine but if your curtains have a latex backing, the heat from the drier can melt the latex and ruin them. 

Instead, you will need a clothesline or rod in a relatively dry area. Perhaps your laundry room might be ideal if there is space or setting your curtain up to dry outside can always work as well.

Once your curtains are done in the wash, take them out of the wash immediately, and hang them up to dry with curtain hooks on your clothing line or rod. Generally, it is not good to fold your curtains over the line as this can lead to uneven drying due to uneven airflow.

Step 4: Ironing your blackout curtains

ironing a set of curtains

This step is not 100% necessary. However, for a clean unwrinkled look, you may want to iron your blackout curtains. Most blackout curtains can be ironed on low heat but check the tag just to make sure.

Once your curtains are dry or nearly dry, bring them over to your ironing board. Lay down one curtain with the fabric side up and the latex side down (if your curtains have a latex backing). It can’t be stressed enough that you don’t want to iron the latex side of the curtain as this could melt the material.

Find the very top of your curtains. It’s easy to identify the top just by finding the loops in your curtain. Make sure this top segment of your curtains is laid flat out on the table as you will be ironing this part first. 

Before you start you might want to get a spray bottle full of water to lightly spray each section of your curtain for smoother ironing. If your blackout curtains are black in color, you may want to take extra precautions and fill your spray bottle with distilled water. Just regular tap water has minerals in it that turn into a white pasty substance sometimes when the water is ironed over. This, of course, can really stand out on black curtains.

After you make sure the segment you will be ironing is flattened out, lightly spritz some water on this section. From here you can slowly bring your iron back and forth along the width of your curtain until you have smoothed out your first section. Adjust your curtain on your table so that you can get started on the next unironed section along the top and repeat. Follow this process until your entire curtain has been completely ironed.

Other curtain cleaning methods

pressing a steamer on curtains

Although putting your curtains in the wash and then hanging them up to dry is the most common way to clean your curtains, there are a few alternative methods you can try out as well.

Steam cleaning your blackout curtains

Steam cleaning your curtains is an excellent method if the curtains just aren’t dirty enough to need to be thoroughly washed. Better yet, this method is quite convenient given that you don’t need to take your curtains down to clean them. Not only that but you will remove wrinkles with the steamer as well.

First, fill your steamer cleaner according to the model’s instructions ideally with distilled water. Again, distilled water is better to use especially if your curtains are black in color since regular tap water can leave mineral residue on your curtains.

Once your steamer is filled, flip the switch on. Typically you will need to wait a few minutes for your device to warm up.  Once your machine is warmed up and ready to go, grab the steamer and in broad strokes, steam up and down the fabric side of your curtains starting from the top of one end. You should only press into your curtains lightly. If you find yourself pressing into your curtains until you feel the head of the device hit the window, you are pressing too hard. Stroke your curtain down to the bottom and then get ready to start the next segment from the top again. Follow this process until you have hit every part of your curtains. If your curtains have a rubber backed side, steam cleaning this part is not necessary.

Curtain deodorizing methods

If your curtains are particularly smelly, you may need to take some extra precautions to desterilize them as you clean them.

Cleaning musty smelling curtains usually means using a washing machine. However, before you throw your curtains in your washing machine pour a cup of baking soda into your washing machine along with your detergent. Baking soda is an excellent common household product for desterilizing your curtains that is perfectly safe to put in your washing machine.

Alternatively, if you are planning on washing your curtains in the bathtub, you can still use the baking soda solution mixed in with detergent and cold water. You may instead mix in a cup of white vinegar if you don’t have baking soda which also has incredible desterilizing qualities. Avoid putting white vinegar in your washing machine, however, or else you may damage your washing machine.

Taking your blackout curtains to the dry cleaner…

Naturally, to avoid going through the hassle of cleaning your curtains, you may be interested in just dropping them off at your local dry cleaner.

However, this might not be the best idea.

Keep in mind that when washing and drying blackout curtains you must be cautious about exposing them to too much heat. If your curtains have a rubber backed side, washing them in warm water or putting them in the washing machine on high temperature can melt this part of your curtains. This will, of course, ruin them.

When cleaning regular curtains however, you don’t need to be as cautious using hot temperatures, and your dry cleaner may end up treating your set of curtains like any other.

In turn, unless you know that your dry cleaning company really knows what it’s doing, it might be best to avoid using the dry cleaner altogether. Instead, it might just be a safer bet for you to clean your blackout curtains yourself.

Final words

Ultimately cleaning your blackout curtains is not too difficult. In fact, the process is quite simple.

However, it is important that you take the right steps when dealing with blackout curtains in particular so that you don’t damage them. Simply be cautious and you will have your curtains looking like they just came out of the package in no time.

For a thorough guide on how to completely blackout your bedroom click here!