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How Often Should You Wash Curtains? (Hint: It’s More Often Than You Think)

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If you were under the impression that you can just hang curtains and forget about ‘em, we’ve got some bad news. Yep, it turns out those window dressings need to be washed from time to time or they might turn your living space into a musty den of dust. So how often should you wash curtains? We got the experts at the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) to give us the rundown. (Spoiler: A good cleaning is recommended every three to six months.)

Why Is It Important to Wash Curtains?

We hinted at this already, but the cleaning pros at the ACI tell us that “curtains naturally attract dust and absorb odors over time,” which means that if you leave them unwashed they could stink up your home and trigger allergies, too. In fact, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says that dust mites are among the most common triggers of year round allergies and asthma—and although you can’t see them, there’s a good chance they’re all over your dusty curtains since curtains do important work of filtering dust and other particles from the air. In other words, if you’ve been leaving your curtains to gather dust then it’s time to remedy the situation ASAP.

How Often Should Curtains Be Washed?

OK, no one really wants to futz with their curtains any more than is absolutely necessary. After all, taking them down and hanging them up is a hassle in and of itself, and a seemingly endless pile of laundry is already making the washing machine work overtime. (Just us?) As such, you’re probably wondering how often you have to tackle this extra chore. Well, friends, the ACI recommends washing your curtains every three to six months and spritzing them with a fabric refresher to neutralize odors and extend the freshness window in between washings. 

How to Wash Curtains

Now that you know when, let’s talk about how. It turns out there’s more than one way to get your curtains squeaky clean. Some curtains are machine washable, so check the label and if that’s the case, you can simply launder them on the delicate cycle and allow them to air dry. (Pro tip: If the freshly washed curtains are wrinkled, it’s best to iron them when they are still slightly damp.) However, if your curtains are too fancy for the washing machine, you will have to cough up some cash at the dry cleaners. Finally, the ACI says that elaborate treatments that are difficult to dismantle on a regular basis can just be given a thorough vacuuming to remove dust and spritzed with a fabric refresher spray to eliminate lingering odors.

When Do Curtains Require More Frequent Cleaning?

In most cases, it’s only necessary to clean your curtains every three to six months. There are a few instances, however, in which you might consider more frequent cleaning. First and foremost, if you already suffer from allergies or asthma, monthly curtain cleaning can help manage your symptoms by eliminating the offending particles. Smokers who light up inside should also clean their curtains on a monthly basis, as the chemicals found in cigarettes will cling to curtains and can cause them to turn yellow and take on a strong smell of smoke. Lastly, if you live by the ocean, more frequent washing is recommended to mitigate the damage caused by salty sea air. 

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