Shape Up Your Drapes
1. Dusty board-mounted valances
2. Grayed delicate sheers
3. Stains on fabric shades
Tools You'll Use
Garment steamer or steam iron
Washer and dryer
Sticky lint roller and/or soft brush
Sudsy water or foam upholstery cleaner
Clean sponge and cloth
1. Rescue your valances. Drapes are simple enough to take to the dry cleaner (and if they're silk, polished cotton, wool, or lined, that's your only option), but valances and swags mounted on boards are dust magnets — and a pain to clean. While it may be tempting to send them out or have someone come in to freshen them, that's a pricey choice. Instead, try this at-home alternative: a handheld vacuum and a step stool. Climb on up and start by sucking dust from the flat, top surface of the board. (Material catching in the vac? Cover the nozzle with a knee-high.) Next, holding the fabric taut with one hand, get into the folds and pleats. If the fabric still looks drab, revive it with a handheld garment steamer or with a blast of steam from an iron held a few inches away.
2. Clear the sheers. Nearly all sheer curtains today are made of nylon, polyester, or cotton, so they're machine washable and dryable. If there's a label on your panels, of course, follow that. If not, wash them in warm water on a short, gentle cycle. Tumble-dry on low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes until dry to the touch, and remove them promptly. Rehang immediately, and you shouldn't have to iron.
3. Spot-clean shades. Before you treat any splotches on Roman, pleated, and other nonwashable fabric shades, they'll need a dusting. Your vacuum does this best, but you can use a lint roller for smooth shades or a soft brush or even the vacuum's brush attachment for pleated ones. Lower the shade and whisk away debris on both sides, from the top down. For stains or fingerprints, mix a squirt of mild dishwashing liquid into a cup of warm water (or grab some foam upholstery cleaner, if you have it). With a dampened sponge, lightly work only the suds or foam into the stain. Rinse the sponge, wring it well, and blot away the soap; then, dab away moisture with a clean cloth; air-dry. If the fabric has telltale water spots after cleaning, fade them with the steam from a garment steamer or iron.
Make It Easier Next Time
- Whenever you get out the extendable duster to nab cobwebs that accumulate near your ceilings, give valance boards a wipe, too.
- Spray sheers with a static-eliminating spray, like Static Guard, to repel dust.
- Pick up a kneadable eraser at an art-supply store to zap smudges on nonwashable fabric shades before they set in.
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