Window treatments

One of the unexpected expenses of moving into a new place or making the purchase of a new home is the window coverings. The options are a wide spectrum of choices as well and if you are anything like me, the driving force of my purchases most of the the time is the price.

We have blinds on the living room windows, handmade curtains in the kitchen and dining room, and store bought coverings in all the bedrooms. And, they all require a different cleaning method.

In my professional life, I have also encountered a drape that is backed with a rubber felted coating that are very cost effective but almost impossible to clean well. These drapes are a dry cleaner’s nightmare. The rubber coating means that they are not dry cleanable because the properties on the backing will melt in most cleaning systems, resulting in peeling of the backing. This causes the drape to become blotchy looking when hung. In other words, ruined.

The only method for cleaning such a fabric is to wash them, but it proves to be tricky too. I haven’t had a lot of luck in this area. The care instructions on the label say machine wash. That is the problem. The drapes in a standard washing machine swish back a forth, spin, and become entangled with themselves. This causes the backing to become stuck to itself in the washing process as well, with almost the same results as dry cleaning.

I have found the best way to tackle this situation so they are not ruined is to put some tepid water in the bathtub with some mild dish soap (is there anything blue Dawn isn’t good for?) and just dip them completely submerged a few times. It should be enough to get the dust and dingy dirt off while saving the window treatment from a certain demise with other cleaning methods. Conveniently, you are already in the bathroom, so simply lay the drape over the shower rod to dry. You can gently squeeze out the water as they hang, being careful not to create too many wrinkles. The best part of this method is that you can toss these rubber backed drapes in a dryer on the air fluff setting (no heat), for a few minutes to release any wrinkles before you hang them back up.

As for other window treatments, the best policy always is to follow the instructions on the label. Sure you may have to fork out a bit of cash to have them professionally dry cleaned but the result is well worth it and they will last for many years to come. Thankfully you can get away with infrequent cleanings as long as you vacuum them twice a year during your seasonal cleaning spurts.

Cleaning the mini blinds is a topic for another day.