Occasionally, we get requests for information on how to clean and maintain drapery. There are a number of factors to consider, including the fiber content of the drapery fabric, whether it is a napped fabric (such as a velour) or smooth faced fabric (such as Poly Muslin or satin), and whether it is topically treated for flame retardant or is permanently flame retardant.
Dust accumulation and repeated dry cleaning can damage drapery. Periodic maintenance can extend the life of your drapery. We recommend performing certain maintenance steps twice each year. For all drapery, carefully inspect the drapery for any holes and tears; have these repaired immediately to prevent further damage. For traditional drapery with a napped or brushed surface, we recommend brushing the drape with a soft bristled brush to remove any accumulated dust. If the drape is pleated, make sure to brush inside the folds of the pleats to remove any dust that has accumulated with those folds. For Austrian Curtains, make sure to brush out any dust that has accumulated within the “smiles.” First brush down the back of the drape, starting on the left side and moving toward the right. For napped fabrics (such as cotton velours and napped synthetic velours), brush the face of the fabric twice, by first brushing against the nap and then brushing with the nap. For brushed surface fabrics, such as Encore Velour and Commando Cloth, or smooth faced fabric, such as Poly Muslin or satin, a single brush down the face of the fabric is sufficient.
Cotton Velours as well as any other fabrics that have been topically treated for flame retardancy must be professionally dry cleaned. Request the use of 100% pure solvent dry cleaning solution to help protect the flame retardant chemical treatment. Keep in mind that, even with this type of dry cleaning, the flame retardancy chemical will dissipate over time and repeated cleaning, so have your drapery tested periodically for flame retardancy and re-treated by a professional as needed. Spot cleaning with a commercial dry cleaning solution may be done as needed for large or noticeable stains. However, this should be done as a last resort as spot cleaning can result in a noticeable difference between the portion that was spot-cleaned and the remainder of the drapery.
Synthetic fabrics that are permanently flame retardant (such as Encore Velour, Banjo Cloth, and Poly Muslin) can be professionally dry cleaned or laundered. For laundering, very small drapes (such as pipe and drape panels) can be laundered at home, while larger, heavier drapes must be professionally laundered. Keep in mind that laundering may cause slight shrinkage. When dry cleaning, request the use of fluorocarbon solvents under easy care conditions. If laundering, wash lights and dark separately. Hand wash or machine wash on the “Delicate” cycle, using cold water and a mild detergent such as Woolite® and do not use bleach. If machine washing, do not overload the washer. Hang dry or tumble dry at low heat. If machine drying, load the dryer no more than one third full. Once the drapes are dry, immediately hang or roll the drapery to minimize wrinkling. Spot cleaning can be done using a commercial dry cleaning solution or spot cleaning stick or pen products such as Tide To Go®. Typically, commercial dry cleaning solution is more effective on heavier weight and/or brushed surface fabrics such as Encore Velour and Super-Vel, whereas stick or pen stain may be used on a smooth fabric such as Poly Muslin. However, as with cotton fabrics, spot cleaning should be done as a last resort as it may result in a noticeable difference between the area that was spot-cleaned and the remainder of the drapery.
If your drapes will be stored for later use, do not store in plastic. Instead, store in a Sew What? drapery bag or in a canvas bag or hamper. To minimize wrinkling, fold along the width and then roll along the length of the fabric. Store in a dry, well-ventilated area. When ready to use, if possible, hang the drapes several days before needed to allow any wrinkles to “hang out.” If necessary, the day before a performance, you can lightly mist the back of the drapery with warm filtered water to help any remaining wrinkles “hang out.” For smaller drapes, you can mist the back of the drape with warm filtered water and lightly press with a warm iron. When ready to store the drapes again, make sure that they are dry prior to folding / rolling and storing.