Making Curtains and Drapes Last
Curtains and drapes can be susceptible to a wide variety of problems, ranging from shrinkage and fading to stains and abrasion damage. Too often we only think of cleaning drapes after they’ve been framing our windows for a few years. Sometimes problems can develop over time while they are just hanging there, doing their job of beautifying our homes.
What are the problems that are associated with draperies?
Because draperies are exposed to atmospheric conditions in higher concentrations, and for longer periods of time than most garments and textiles, they can encounter some problems. Often these problems do not become evident until the item has been drycleaned or washed.
Some of the more common issues associated with draperies are damage due to light exposure; poor colorfastness; yellowing due to the deterioration of finishes or soil accumulation; watermarks; shrinkage; abrasion damage; and deterioration of the coating or lining during cleaning. Some of these problems are a result of defects in manufacturing.
Others, however, such as damage due to light exposure, yellowing due to soil accumulation, watermarks, and abrasion damage, can usually be attributed to circumstances of use. What can you do to make your draperies last?
The American National Standards Institute’s Fair Claims Guide for Consumer Textile Products gives the following life expectancies for drapes:
- Lined Draperies 5 years
- Unlined Draperies 4 years
- Sheer Draperies 3 years
- Fiber Glass Draperies 4 years
How long a drapery lasts depends on the fabric type and density, finishes, window location, and length of use. But it also depends on their selection and the care they receive.
Here are some tips to help you keep your draperies looking great:
- To protect drapes against yellowing due to excess staining and soiling, clean the drape at least once a year.
- It is best that you have your drapes cleaned by a cleaner, such as Fashion Cleaners who is experienced in the cleaning of drapes and is knowledgeable in drapery problems.
- Protect drapes from prolonged dampness. Moisture from rain, leaky pipes, or condensation from window panes can result in watermarks and mildew.
- If possible, rotate draperies periodically to vary the amount of light exposure received.
- Protect drapes from abrasion damage by avoiding constant rubbing on window sills or furnishings while in use. Abrasion damage can also be caused by a family pet snagging the fabric with sharp claws.
- Keep draperies away from the kitchen, wood stoves, or fireplaces. Smoke from wood stoves, fireplaces, and cigarettes; cooking fumes; and other atmospheric contaminants can contribute significantly to drapery soiling.
Curtains: The Cleaning Challenge
Despite the availability of hundreds of labor-saving devices and packaged products that claim to virtually eliminate housework, until a “magic solution” is found, curtains are still going to need to be cleaned the old-fashioned way.
Window treatments are an investment in time, money, and creativity, so protect your investment by purchasing the right kind of draperies for your needs and caring for them properly once they are purchased.
Know what you are buying. Ask about the fabric’s colorfastness, the suggested care process, its resistance to light and how this relates to the atmospheric conditions in your home.
Consider purchasing lined draperies.
While they are more expensive than unlined drapes, they can have a much longer life.
If your draperies are custom-made, ask for preshrunk fabric, especially when installing floor-to-ceiling draperies. Read the care label carefully. Look for sun-resistant fabrics such as acrylic, modacrylic, polyester, nylon, and glass fibers. Silk and sheer fabrics weaken much faster than heavier, tightly woven fabrics. Protect these fabrics by installing blinds or sun blockers on the window as well. Some drapes have a special backing that insulates and reflects light well, but it may be difficult to clean.
First, make a sound investment. Second, clean your drapes at least once a year, vacuum thoroughly between cleanings. If possible, rotate your drapes to vary light exposure. Sun can damage drapes, weakening textile fibers and fading colors. Be careful about rain or condensation on your drapes. Once the wet area dries, brown or yellow stains, caused by sizing finishes, may appear.
When it’s time to clean your curtains or drapes give us a call or stop into one of our 6 locations, and we can look them over and let you know what will be the best cleaning method and if we foresee any problems with the fabric.