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How to Clean Voile Curtains

Voile curtains are a popular way to dress a window. They’re lightweight, semi-transparent, and will brighten your interior while protecting your privacy. What’s more, voiles can be adorned with a range of patterns, for added style. You can learn exactly what voile curtains are here.

Better yet, voile curtains don’t tend to attract as much grime and moisture as heavier curtains, since the material used isn’t as prone to absorbing airborne dirt particles. This means you won’t need to wash them as often you might need to wash regular curtains. That said, being lightweight and delicate, voiles will need to be handled with special care when you do wash them.

Will Voiles Shrink When Washed?

If there’s anything you want to avoid when washing voiles (or anything, for that matter), it’s shrinking them.

Fortunately, the vast majority of voile curtains are made from polyester, which is more resistant to shrinking than natural fabrics. That said, even polyester voiles might shrink slightly (typically less than 1%). Needless to say, the more you wash them, the more noticeable this will become.

Some more expensive voiles are manufactured using plusher, natural fabrics like cotton, linen and silk. These are more vulnerable to shrinkage. To minimise this risk they should be washed by hand so you can treat them with extra care, and control the temperature they’re exposed to.

Saying that, voiles might shrink even when they aren’t being washed. If your window receives direct sunlight day-in, day-out, then any curtains hung there will change shape a tiny bit every day.

Shrinking can also occur as a result of excessive moisture or severe temperature changes. If you’ve got voiles installed in a kitchen or bathroom, you might want to pay extra attention to their care.

Of course, the same is true of other items of furniture – sofas, curtains and carpets will all suffer wear-and-tear when exposed to excessive heat, moisture, or sunlight, and your voiles might actually play a role in reducing this damage by absorbing direct sunlight.

Hand-washing Polyester Voile Curtains

Hand-washing voiles is almost always your best option, if you have the time. Doing so could add years to their lifespan. There’s no one best way of doing this, and you might find you achieve better results by varying what you do. Still, let’s run through our preferred method of cleaning voiles:

  1. Mix your water at around one-part detergent for every thirty-parts water. You don’t want to be filling the tub with water straight from the hot tap – it’ll be too hot - and you certainly don’t want to be using the kettle! Ideally, use a thermometer to get the water to 30°C.
  2. Leave the material to soak in the water for around a quarter of an hour, then gently work any dirt loose with your hands. You don’t need to rub the fabric – just getting it moving should be enough to shift the dirt.
  3. Next, rinse the curtains under warm (but not hot) water. Empty the detergent and re-fill your basin. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear.
  4. Your curtains will have soaked up a lot of the water, so they’ll need to be wrung before being hung up to dry. Be careful when doing this, as you don’t want to crease the fabric. A sensible approach is to roll the curtain up in a dry towel, roll the entire thing up together, and apply pressure. This will gradually force moisture into the towel.
  5. Finally, hang the curtain up to dry. You might do this either on your washing line, or in the window. Ideally, you’ll want to use as few pegs as possible since they may damage the delicate material – so hanging them straight back up is usually your best bet.

Machine-washing Polyester Voile Curtains

That’s hand-washing covered - but what about machine washing? We’ll run through the process, step-by-step, but remember that these instructions are general, so be sure to consult the label on your curtains, or any washing instructions that came with them.

Note that you should be washing your voiles separately from all other items, and filling your drum to around a third. Washing multiple items at once will necessitate using a higher temperature, which will in turn reduce the lifespan of the curtain.

  1. First, remove any non-fabric items from the curtain. That means weights, pins and sliding carriages. When these start getting bashed around in the inside of a washing machine’s drum, they’ll make a lot of noise, and worse, they’ll strain the fabric and shorten its lifespan.
  2. Once you’ve removed any non-fabric items, use a vacuum-cleaner to carefully remove any large particles of dust. Make sure you aren’t sucking the fabric itself into the cleaner by laying your voile across a suitable surface, holding it down, and using your vacuum’s brush attachment to go over every square inch of surface.
  3. If there are any rigid plastic sections, you’ll need to stash the curtain in a delicates washing bag. This will restrict the movement of the curtain and prevent it from stretching.
  4. Next, set the machine. Use the gentlest possible cycle and do not spin dry the load. There might be a cycle on your machine designed specifically for delicates. If there is, use it.
  5. When the cycle’s done, hang the voile up to dry naturally. Note that while it’s generally okay to machine-wash certain sorts of voile curtains, under no circumstances should you be machine-drying them. A tumble dryer generates enough heat to destroy the fibres of your curtain – whichever sort of fabric they’re made from.

Washing Natural Fibre Voiles

As we’ve mentioned, most voiles are made from polyester, but a few are made from more fragile, natural fabrics, and will need to be hand-washed. This does not, however, apply to every single voile curtain that contains natural fibres. You might be able to machine wash some voiles containing natural fibres – particularly if your machine has settings designed for sensitive loads. That said, always proceed with extreme caution.

Should Voiles Be Ironed?

After you’ve finished washing, you might find your voiles are a little creased. Don’t be tempted to reach for the iron. Most voiles can be straightened by simply hanging them up to dry.

In the odd severe case, however, ironing may be necessary to eliminate really deep creases. That said it’s still important to proceed with caution – whether you’re ironing cotton or polyester. Set the iron to a low, warm setting. Set it too high and you risk burn-marks. We’d also suggest protecting the voile using a damp barrier cloth.

A set of quality voile curtains make a great addition to rooms where privacy is required, but natural light is also valued. To get the best from your voile curtains, treat them to the occasional wash. The methods we’ve outlined here will help you to do this while keeping the fabric protected and maximising the curtain’s lifespan. Before you start washing voile curtains, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s recommendation – which is typically included on a label attached to the curtain itself.

Shop our full range of voiles here.

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