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How Do I Care for Velvet Curtains?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated May 16, 2024
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Caring for your velvet curtains depends on the type of velvet your draperies are made of, but their care generally involves cleaning and protection from fading due to sunlight exposure. Cotton velvet is a popular fabric for both draperies and upholstery, and can typically be washed in cold water, however drying this fabric in a dryer could cause it to fade, so curtains should be hung out to dry. Once the curtains are dry, they can be ironed, but most experts advise ironing velvet on the back side of the fabric. The same washing, drying and ironing requirements would apply to velvet curtains that are made of silk. Polyester velvet can normally be machine washed and dried and do not usually require ironing.

Some people like to hang curtains from their rods while they are still damp, but because velvet is so heavy, this may not be a good idea. If you have very strong rods in place, and they are securely anchored, you may want to try it, but otherwise, the weight of the damp draperies could pull down your drapery hardware. Polyester and silk velvet blends are usually much lighter weight than cotton, so damp hanging might be an option with those types of draperies. One additional thing to keep in mind is that silk and cotton velvet is prone to wrinkling after washing, and will most likely need to be ironed before hanging.

Another possible risk to machine-washing cotton or silk velvet is that it may come out of the wash with a “crushed” look. Some people find this look so appealing that they actually put the fabric through the wash process for the purpose of creating that look. When velvet becomes crushed, part of the nap of the fabric is smooth, but veins running through it lie flat, making the fabric look like crinkled paper. If the curtains are ironed using medium to high heat, often the crushed look disappears. Velvet can be purchased pre-crushed, but it is often much more expensive than velvet with a smooth nap.

Velvet fabric generally has a thick nap, and because of this, velvet curtains will attract household dust and lint. If there are animals in the home, the curtains will also become a magnet for floating animal hair. To remove these unwanted substances from the surface of velvet curtains, you can either run a damp cloth over the surface of the fabric or vacuum the surface using a hand-held device. For risk-free cleaning of your velvet curtains, you should probably use a professional dry cleaning service.

Can I Wash Velvet Curtains in the Washing Machine? 

Keeping your velvet curtains clean has an impact on how long they last and how well they can enhance the appearance of a room, whether they are cotton, silk or polyester. Cleaning them can be a bit more complicated than washing more typical linens. Whether a specific velvet curtain is machine washable depends upon if it is colorfast. In this case, you can (with the proper method) use a washing machine to clean it. But if not, you will need to take it to a dry cleaner instead.

To determine whether your curtains are colorfast, simply dampen a small white cloth and gently apply pressure to the curtains to see whether the color bleeds onto the cloth. If any color transfers, they are not colorfast enough to be washed in a machine.

If they are machine washable and you choose to go that route, just be careful to protect your curtains in the process by using the correct and optimal settings on your machine.

Use a Delicate Setting 

First and foremost, use the delicate setting if one is available. Sometimes it is labeled as gentle or something similar. This setting will ensure that the curtains are not roughed up any more than they need to be during their cleaning in the washing machine.

Use Cold Water 

You should also put the machine settings to cold water. Cold water is less abrasive to fabrics than hot water, so it will help prevent excessive wrinkling or fading. It can also reduce the amount of shrinking that occurs in the washing machine, so your curtains will keep as much of their volume as possible.

Use Less Detergent 

Finally, while you can use your normal laundry detergent, you should use less of it than you usually do with clothes and other typical wash cycles. Cutting the amount in half will work for velvet curtains, and it will also keep your washing machine from working too hard to rinse out the load.

Can You Iron Velvet Curtains? 

Velvet curtains can wrinkle, even though they are typically thick and may seem too hardy to do so. If your curtains do get wrinkled, whether in the wash or from some other kind of pressure over time, you might wonder whether you can apply an iron to them to fix the problem.

The simple answer is no — you should never apply an iron directly to your velvet curtains. The harsh heat can damage them and ruin their appearance. A more gentle approach is necessary, and your curtains will last you many more years if you take the time to do it the right way.

How To Get Wrinkles Out of Velvet Curtains 

So, how exactly should you go about getting rid of those pesky wrinkles if you can't use an iron? The best way to remove wrinkles from your curtains and restore them to their original shape is to hang them up and gently apply steam to them. You can use either an iron or a portable steamer to do this.

If you are using an iron, set it to whatever temperature is necessary to produce steam, and then hold it close enough to the curtains to let the steam do its work. For a portable steamer, start with the lowest setting and do the same. While applying the steam, you can also gently tug on the curtains to smooth them out. Just remember that regardless of which appliance you use, you should never let it come in direct contact with your curtains, as this can damage them.

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Discussion Comments
By Ocelot60 — On Jan 04, 2015

@spotiche5- If possible, you should lay velvet curtains out flat to dry. This can be difficult, especially if your curtains are long, but it can be done. You can either spread them out on a table or even on plastic covering on the floor. Once they dry, you will be happy with the results.

By Spotiche5 — On Jan 03, 2015

I once washed velvet curtains, and hung then to dry on a clothesline. After I did this, they never fit my windows the same as they did before I washed them. They seemed to be stretched out, possibly from hanging to dry. Is there a better way to dry velvet curtains after you wash them?

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