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Many people ask, should you wash curtains before hanging them? Is it okay to use it straight after getting it from a shop or a store?
I’m a frustrated interior designer and stylist, so I like buying new curtains, linen, sheets, and all other fabrics for my home, and knowing this information is crucial.
While you can get away with using new curtains before hanging them, you might want to consider washing them first. This is to get rid of bacteria, germs, factory odor, as well as to soften the curtains as they’re usually stiff from manufacturing.
To understand this further, you need to think about certain factors and considerations with your new curtains.
Whether they’re curtains for your living room, bedroom, or kitchen, these will be helpful.
One of the best things I’ve learned throughout my journey of finding answers is that not all curtains are made equally.
So, you’ll need to consider the following factors and characteristics:
Smell and Odor
Akin to other types of linen and clothing, curtains usually have a distinctive smell and odor after coming out of the factory.
Some have fragrant smells, while there are others that don’t.
Since you’ll be hanging it, the smell could spread easily throughout the space or area. The air and winds could blow the smell to certain parts of the house.
Type of Fabric
High-quality curtains would have washing labels and instructions, so, check them first before you decide whether you’ll wash your new curtains.
It’s also worth noting that not all types should be treated the same.
For instance, you should never wash drapes because it can damage both the physicality of the drapes, as well as compromise their functions.
And, take note, drapes are different from curtains.
NOTE: Double-check the type and quality of fabric first before deciding on whether you’ll wash it or not.
Stiffness or Hardness
Last, but most definitely not least is to consider the hardness of curtains. Curtains are usually like mattresses – they need to be broken in for them to be softer, silkier, and easier to handle.
There are some chemicals that make curtains stiffer and harder.
This is because manufacturers think about freight and delivery – they make it hard so that the fabric does not warp or become deformed.
Try considering these before you decide whether you’ll wash your curtains or not.
What I personally do is check if there’s a washing label first. From there, I look for information on whether I should wash it or not.
So, should you wash new curtains before hanging or could you use them straight from the box?
Coming out of the manufacturing factory, they should be safe from germs, bacteria, and certain viruses.
However, there are things that washing your curtains can give you benefits, which include:
Get Rid of Bacteria and Germs
Most new curtains, especially those that come directly from manufacturers and suppliers (new in-store items) would be free from germs and bacteria.
However, you still wouldn’t know if there are nano and microorganisms that could be lurking on its fibers.
Especially when you think about how shoppers and consumers touch and feel it inside the store.
Note: There could also be dust, dirt, and other types of debris on the surface of the curtain that is invisible to the naked eye. When you wash them, all things that aren’t easily visible will be removed.
Remove Unwanted Smells and Odors
If you’re like me who loathes the smell of fabric “newness,” which includes the combination of various chemicals, you could find it difficult to cope with the smell of new curtains.
It doesn’t matter if you purchased them from a store or from a direct supplier because they would smell preserved.
So, you can get rid of this only by washing it and by using a fabric conditioner with it.
Steam Cleaning Curtains
One thing I found out that could deodorize your curtains is by steaming them.
You can use a steaming iron, but an easy and natural way is by hanging them inside your bathroom while you’re taking a hot shower.
The steam from the shower can deodorize it, as well as soften the curtains.
That brings us to the next reason, which is that it can make your stiff curtains softer and more workable.
Soften the Curtains
The chemicals used for the curtains don’t just contribute to their smell. They’re also used to harden and stiffen the curtains in order for them to be secured and protected.
These chemicals also help in preserving the overall quality of the curtains to lengthen their newness.
Last, but most definitely not least is the fact that they can make your curtains look brighter and more vibrant.
Washing them releases everything embedded in them from manufacturing, making them look better and have brighter colors.
At first, I also thought washing them was unnecessary simply because you wouldn’t really touch them often, and they would only be used as decorations.
However, these 4 factors led me to believe that it is important to wash them.
There are, however, certain isolated cases and situations where washing them would be worse than not.
When They’re Made With Embroidery or Dobby
Washing curtains that aren’t made with dobby or embroidery, you don’t really need to wash them. Over time, the chemicals on them would naturally wear off.
In fact, when you wash them, the fibers could be damaged by laundering.
Note: If you wash them, you’ll have to wash them with care, and you need to do it seldomly (twice every 4 months would be good).
When You’re Going to Use Drapes
Drapes are made from heavier and much more complex fabric panels. Washing them regularly can damage their appearance, as well as how they normally function.
If you look at these, they’re isolated cases, and they don’t really apply to all types and kinds of curtains.
Unlike standard or regular curtains, there’s no need for you to wash bathroom or shower curtains before using them.
Why? – Because, naturally, they’ll be wet because they’re in the shower.
Washing your curtains shouldn’t be too complex and difficult. In fact, washing it should not be far from how you wash regular clothing and apparel.
However, in washing them, though, you need to be gentle and careful, especially if there’s embroidery on the curtains.
- Submerge your curtains in cold or cool water.
- Add about 2 cups of laundry detergent.
- Rinse all detergent from it carefully.
- Add a few drops of fabric conditioner to soften them up.
- Rinse it again to remove the fabric conditioner.
- Hang them dry.
NOTE: You can throw them inside the dryer for faster drying, but make sure that you put on the lowest and gentlest setting.
Here are some other questions related to washing new curtains before hanging or using them.
Yes, it’s safe to toss your curtains inside the washing machine, but make sure to put them in the gentlest and most delicate setting.
It’s also important that you use cool to lukewarm water for it.
The most ideal time to wash curtains should be once every 3 to 6 months.
Overdoing it can ruin the fabric, as well as damage the internal fibers of the curtain, which can result in fluffing and linting.
So, should you wash curtains before hanging them? If you ask me, I know that not a lot of people choose not to wash their curtains because they think it’s safe and fine.
However, germs, bacteria, smell, and odor could ultimately be eliminated when you wash them.
In doing so, though, you also need to consider the type and quality of the fabric, as well as the physical design before deciding.