Have you noticed your bedroom blackout curtains looking a little dingy lately? Those dust bunnies and mysterious stains might have you wondering—can you actually wash blackout curtains?
The short answer is yes! With the right techniques, you can totally refresh your blackout curtains and make them look good as new.
Unlike regular drapes, blackout curtains have that extra dense, light-blocking fabric that makes them so effective at shutting out sunlight. But it also means you have to take some special care when it comes time to toss them in the wash.
Don’t worry though, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about safely and effectively washing blackout curtains. Let’s get started!
Should You Actually Wash Blackout Curtains?
I know it might seem easier to just leave your blackout curtains as-is, but washing them regularly is important for a few key reasons:
Removes Dust and Allergens
Blackout curtains are dust and allergen magnets! All that fabric traps everything from pet dander to pollen to plain old dust bunnies. Washing kicks all those allergens to the curb.
Maintains Insulating Properties
That coating on the backside helps block light and insulate your windows. But dirt buildup will reduce its effectiveness over time.
Extends the Life
Regular cleaning keeps your blackout curtains looking fresh, helps maintain the integrity of the fabric, and prevents stains from setting in.
So while it might seem intimidating, taking the time to wash your blackout curtains is worth it!
Always Check the Care Instructions
Before dunking your curtains into some soapy water, it’s important to double check the care label. Some blackout curtains may say dry clean only or have special washing instructions.
Look for a tag near the top of the curtain that has symbols with cleaning dos and don’ts. Follow those to a T so you don’t accidentally damage your curtains!
Prep Your Blackout Curtains for Washing
You’ll need to do a little prep work before washing day. Here are the key steps:
Do a Spot Test
Grab a tester swatch of fabric or choose an inconspicuous spot on the curtain. Try out your chosen washing method on that spot first. Make sure it doesn’t damage or discolor the fabric.
Take Them Down
Remove your blackout curtains from the window and curtain rod. Give them a good shake outside to get rid of any loose dirt and dust.
Fill Your Tub
Fill your bathtub with lukewarm water. Add a small amount of gentle, dye-free laundry detergent, like Woolite. Enough for a light load of laundry should work well.
Separate the Panels
If your blackout curtains have multiple panels, keep them separated in the wash. This prevents tangling and allows them to get thoroughly cleaned.
Okay, now comes the fun part—washing! You’ve got options for tackling your blackout curtains.
Hand Washing Your Blackout Curtains
Sometimes a gentle hand wash is best for delicate fabrics like blackout curtains. Here are some hand washing techniques to try:
Spot Cleaning for Small Messes
For targeted stains or soiled spots, spot cleaning is clutch.
Fill a spray bottle with lukewarm water and a tiny amount of laundry detergent. Lightly mist the stain, then gently blot it with a soft cloth or sponge.
Work from the edges of the stain inward so you don’t spread it around. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and air dry. Ta-da!
Deep Cleaning for a Fresh Start
For an occasional deep clean, it’s tub time!
Gently place your blackout curtains in your soapy bath water. Let them soak for 5-10 minutes so the detergent can penetrate the fabric.
Swish the curtains around to fully saturate them. Do this carefully to avoid tangling or damage.
Once they’ve soaked, drain the tub and rinse the curtains with clean water. I like to do two rinse cycles to make sure all the soap residue gets removed.
After rinsing, gently wring out excess water from the curtains. Then it’s time to hang them up to dry!
Steam Cleaning with a Steamer
If you have a handheld fabric steamer, use it to refresh your blackout curtains between washes.
Hang the curtains up and pass the steamer over them slowly. The steam will relax wrinkles and loosen up dirt and dust so you can wipe it away.
Let the curtains air dry when you’re done steaming.
Tossing Blackout Curtains in the Washing Machine
Can you just throw blackout curtains in with your regular laundry? Sometimes, yes!
Double check your care label first to make sure machine washing is allowed. If you’re in the clear, follow these steps:
- Use the gentle or delicate cycle on COLD water. Hot water can damage fabric.
- Put your curtains in a mesh bag or pillowcase and zip/tie it closed. This prevents tangling.
- Use a mild, dye-free detergent suitable for delicates. Skip the fabric softener.
- Take the curtains out immediately when the wash finishes and hang them up to prevent wrinkles.
Laying them flat to dry also works. Just make sure to smooth out the fabric.
Do NOT put blackout curtains in the dryer—always air dry them! The heat ruins the coatings.
How to Dry Your Hand-Washed Curtains
Dry your freshly washed blackout curtains using one of these techniques:
Hang Them Up
- Drape your curtains over a shower curtain rod, towel racks, or clothing rack.
- You can also clip them back up on the curtain rod if it can handle the damp weight.
- Use towels underneath to catch drips if needed.
Lay Them Flat
- Spread your washed curtains out over towels or furniture you don’t mind getting damp.
- Smooth out all the wrinkles with your hands and separate the panels.
Air Dry Outside
- Hang your blackout curtains on an outdoor clothesline if the weather cooperates.
- The fresh air helps remove detergent residue and prevents mold/mildew.
Just remember—no dryer! Let your curtains fully air dry before hanging them back up.
Additional Tips for Caring for Blackout Curtains
Here are a few more pointers to keep your blackout curtains looking their best:
- Vacuum regularly using the soft brush attachment to remove surface dust and dirt.
- Spot clean messes as soon as they happen using a damp cloth.
- Steam or hand wash every 2-3 months. Wash machine-washable curtains 1-2 times per year.
- Keep them out of direct sunlight when possible to prevent fading.
- Consider applying uv-blocking fabric protector spray. This adds an extra sun damage shield.
- Check the care label before using any cleaning products.
- Dry clean coated curtains if the label specifies dry clean only.
By properly caring for your hard-working blackout curtains, you’ll keep them looking fabulous and working efficiently for years to come.
To Wash or Not to Wash?
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that keeping your blackout curtains clean is well worth the effort.
While it takes a gentle touch, with the right techniques, you can safely wash blackout curtains and maintain their light-blocking superpowers.
Always refer back to the manufacturer’s care instructions before cleaning. If need be, do a patch test first.
And remember—skip the heat and let your curtains air dry to keep the fabric and coatings in tip-top shape.
With a little TLC, your blackout curtains will continue blocking light, insulating windows, and looking fabulous in your space. Sweet dreams!