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How Do I Care for Voile Curtains?

By Charles Harper
Updated May 16, 2024
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Voile curtains can be cared for in a fairly easy and straightforward manner. The word voile is French for "veil." It has been adopted into the English language to describe sheer, see-through curtains that are usually used with a second, heavier set of curtains. These curtains can be made of cotton, cotton blend, linen, silk, polyester, or any material that yields a sheer or semi-sheer curtain. The different types of material dictate how the curtains must be cared for.

Cleaning voile curtains that are made of natural fibers, such as cotton or linen, is usually more straightforward than cleaning curtains made of manmade fibers. Curtains made of natural fibers can either be laundered at home or dry cleaned. If you launder your curtains yourself, you should choose your washing machine's most delicate setting, or you should wash them by hand and allow them to hang dry. If you must put them in your dryer, which is usually not recommended, turn the setting to low, and remove them before they are fully dry. The curtains can now be carefully ironed, if necessary, on the appropriate heat setting.

Voile curtains made of blends and manmade fibers may require different care. Most synthetic textiles will require dry cleaning, although some are able to be washed by hand, in which case you should wash them in cool water and hang them to dry. The manufacturer should state the washing instructions clearly on the label.

While these sheer curtains give the visual impression of being delicate, frail, and easily damaged, they are actually sturdier than they look. In fact, you can even consider making voile curtains; it is a fairly quick and easy process, even if you have only the most basic of sewing skills. There are many patterns, and many types of suitable fabric, available if this is the route you choose to take.

Once you have made or purchased and laundered them, hanging voile curtains is essentially no different from hanging other curtains. It is probably easier, because they are almost always more lightweight, so you have more options and greater flexibility in the type of hardware you can use to hang the curtains. Their light weight means they're also easier to lift into place.

Cleaning voile curtains is not an intimidating process. Do not be fooled by the fact that they are sheer and appear delicate. They can be treated in much the same way you treat any of your curtains.

Can You Wash Voile Curtains?

The material they’re made from will determine how you can clean your voile curtains. If they’re made of natural fabrics such as linen or cotton, you may be able to wash them on the delicate cycle in your washing machine. They can also be hand-washed. In either case, you should hang them to dry. If they wrinkle, you could use an iron and ironing board on a very low setting or a hand-held steamer as they hang.

If your voile curtains are silk, you’d be better off washing them by hand, rinsing thoroughly, gently wringing out as much water as you can and hanging them to dry. You can also take silk voile curtains to the dry cleaner.

For any other material, you should take your voile curtains to the dry cleaner, because even hand washing could cause unforeseen problems. It’s better to let the professionals handle your delicate voile curtains.

If your curtains have a care tag, read that first before you do any cleaning. If the tag says “dry clean” you may be able to get away with washing your voile curtains by hand. If the tag says “dry clean only,” then take your curtains to the dry cleaner to have them cleaned.

How to Wash Voile Curtains in Washing Machine?

If you’re set on washing your voile curtains in the washing machine, always use the delicate cycle. Don’t try to shove too many panels in at once. It’s better to give your curtains room to move around during the gentle agitation of the barrel of the washer. Use a detergent designed to be gentle on fabric.

You can add your favorite fabric softener to the rinse cycle. You can also add two tablespoons of white vinegar to the rinse to make your curtains extra soft. A word of warning: if your curtains are linen, or you aren’t sure what fabric they are, don’t use vinegar. It can burn linen.

Don’t use chlorine bleach. It can damage the fabric of your voile curtains. If your curtains are a bit dingy, you could use a product such as OxiClean to brighten them up. You could also try a color-safe bleach, which is gentler than its chlorine cousin.

Use a slow spin cycle to help avoid wrinkles in your curtains. Alternatively, you can remove them before the spin cycle and gently squeeze the water out of them by hand.

Never put voile curtains in the dryer. Always hang them to dry.

How Do You Go About Making Voile Curtains?

Voile curtains are simple to make. The first thing to do is take some measurements. First, measure from your curtain rod to the length you want your curtains to hang. Next, measure your curtain rod from end to end, not including any decorative pieces on the ends.

Estimate the length of fabric you’re going to need. Then add about six inches to make a nice double-fold hem. Add the diameter of your curtain rod plus one-half inch for the hem. Then add one-quarter inch for easy sliding.

Estimate the width of fabric you’re going to need. Voile curtains look best when they’re full, so take the measurement of your curtain rod and multiply by three. Then add four more inches so you can do a double-fold hem on each side.

Cut your voile fabric to meet the measurements. Cut into two equal pieces so you have two panels.

Next, sew the casing to the top of each panel. First, lay the fabric right-side down. Fold the fabric down one-half inch and iron flat, using a pressing cloth to protect the fabric. Sew the fabric with a straight stitch on your sewing machine. Then fold the fabric down the diameter of the curtain rod plus one-quarter inch for easy sliding. Iron flat, then sew with a straight stitch.

Slide the curtains onto the curtain rod, then replace the rod in its brackets. Let your curtains hang for 24 hours before you finish hemming them.

Take the curtains off the rod and hem the bottom and sides. The method is the same for both the bottom and sides. Put the panel right-side down. Fold the hem up to your desired length. This should be about three inches on the bottom and one inch on each side. Then fold the fabric up again. Press the edge with your iron and pressing cloth, then sew each hem with a straight stitch.

Re-hang your voile curtains on the curtain rod, arranging them so they’re evenly shirred across your window. Then take a step or two away from the curtains and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

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Discussion Comments
By Lostnfound — On Oct 02, 2014

I've never been fond of voile curtains. I really don't like "sheers." I prefer using blinds instead.

In general, I use curtains to either block light from the room, or to make a room look less bare. Voile curtains don't really do either of these.

Most curtains should probably be dry cleaned unless they are cotton muslin or something similar. Those can go in the washer and then can be ironed and starched before re-hanging. I’m not sure whether voile curtains can be pressed or not. But if you have them dry cleaned, I suspect the dry cleaners can handle that job.

By Grivusangel — On Oct 01, 2014

I don't know that I've ever heard of linen voile, but I would certainly never try to wash linen in the washing machine. I'd definitely have it dry cleaned, as I would silk voile.

A fabric blend would probably be all right in the washing machine , as long as one of the fabrics wasn't silk or rayon, which also may or may not wash well.

For the most part, I'd probably have my voile curtains dry cleaned, or follow whatever was on the care label. Otherwise, curtains don't usually have to be cleaned very often, unless they have yellowed or otherwise become discolored.

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