Removing Stains from Draperies

by Amy Gordon
(last updated January 28, 2013)

While we concentrate on cleaning our carpets and upholstery, few of us realize that draperies require equal care and maintenance, because not only are they often exposed to direct sunlight, but they also absorb large quantities of dust, dirt, smoke, and grime, and are as liable to stain as other furnishings. All this means that removing stains from draperies is an essential household chore.

When buying draperies, try to find fabrics that are relatively stain-resistant. These fabrics absorb less moisture and therefore may offer protection against water stains that are otherwise hard to remove. Also, and this is a general rule for all stains, always try to remove the spillage or stain the moment it occurs. This will save you immense time and expense when it comes to maintenance. Finally, make sure you gently vacuum clean your draperies at least once every six months to prevent accumulation of dust, which can cause respiratory problems for you and your family.

  • Sunlight fading. As with all fabrics, draperies react adversely to constant exposure to bright sunlight. Sunlight not only reduces the strength of most drapery fibers, it also causes the color to fade unevenly, which makes stained patches. A more noticeable effect of sunlight is dry rotting of the fabric. Since there really is no way of removing these stains from the fabric once they form, you should take preventive measures to make sure that the discoloration does not occur in the first place. The best way to do this is to use drapery linings and solar tinting on your windows. The use of shades or blinds behind draperies will also work against the harmful effects of sunlight.
  • Water stains. Water stains form on draperies as a result of condensation from rain and dew. An obvious way to restrict this kind of damage is to make sure it doesn't find its way to your draperies. Keeping moisture from your draperies is easier said than done, since you can hardly keep your doors and windows closed at all times, and a lot of moisture seeps in unnoticed through minute openings anyway. As an alternative, hire a professional dry cleaner to service your draperies regularly, and use drapery linings for added protection.
  • Pet stains. Your pooch may decide it wants to use your draperies as a convenient toilet. Pet urine contains acid and bleaching agents that act on the color fabric and discolor the hems of your drapes. Once again, instead of trying to clean the stains on your own, it is best if you consult a professional cleaner, particularly if your draperies are made of expensive and easily damaged fabrics like silk. The easiest alternative to professional help is to keep your dog locked up away from your drapes when you are not around.
  • Environmental pollutants. The principal environmental pollutants are weak nitric and sulfuric acids that are formed when atmospheric nitrogen and sulfur react with moisture. These cause a phenomenon known as indoor acid rain, which causes draperies to yellow. The greatest problem with such stains is that they may not be visible until after the fabric has been cleaned. Therefore, once every year or 18 months, hire the services of a reputable drapery cleaner to make sure these stains do not permanently damage your fabric.

Since we have said so much about professional drapery cleaners, you should know exactly how they can help keep your draperies looking fresh and beautiful for years. Typically, most cleaners use one of two methods while removing stains from draperies. One is dry cleaning, where chemicals are used to weaken the stains and accumulated dirt. The other is steam cleaning, where a steam machine is used to steam off dirt and stains. However, steam cleaning is usable only in the case of water-resistant draperies.

Note: We strongly advise against hand washing draperies to remove stains. Not only can you end up using improper detergents and chemicals, you also run the risk of shrinking draperies drastically so that they are no longer usable. So remember, never chuck your draperies into the washing machine. At all times, consult a professional cleaner.

Author Bio

Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon loves keeping things simple, natural, and safe so she can spend more time having fun. Every day she learns new things about making life at home easier and she loves to share it with you! ...

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