Can You Wash Polyester Curtains? (Find Out Now!)

Brigid Levi
by Brigid Levi

Curtains can be one of those “set it and forget it” home décor items. To be honest, I’m not sure that I’ve ever washed a curtain. But that doesn’t mean you can’t! You have to consider the material, of course, as well as a few other things.

Polyester curtains are machine-washable on a cool to warm, gentle cycle using a mild soap. If your polyester curtain is lined, the lining tends to shrink. So pay attention to the care label on your curtains. For curtains with more embellishment, handwashing is safest. Never wash polyester curtains if the care label says to dry-clean only.

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The Low-Down on Polyester

If you emerged from the 1970s intact, you are very familiar with polyester. Rest assured polyester is very different now than it was back then. Even so, you’re not wearing your curtains (unless you’re Scarlett O’Hara).

Polyester is a synthetic fabric derived from petroleum. In addition to being extremely durable, polyester is fast-drying and resistant to moisture, wrinkles, and stains. It won’t shrink, and best of all, it’s machine washable! Now, doesn’t that sound like an ideal curtain material?

Washing Polyester Curtains

Most of the time, polyester is mixed with other materials to create a polyester blend. However, it’s possible to have curtains that are 100% polyester. In either case, always check the care label for washing and drying instructions. It’s recommended to wash curtains once a season.

Take extra care if your curtains are lined. While polyester itself isn’t prone to shrinking, sometimes, the lining is. If your polyester curtains are lined, you may choose to send them out for professional cleaning for the best results.

If the care label indicates the curtains are dry-cleaned only, do not attempt to wash them yourself.

Before Washing

Measure the curtains in case you need to reshape them. While they shouldn’t shrink, you may need to make a few adjustments to reshape them. Knowing the true measurements will help.

Remove any hooks or weights sewn into the hem to avoid ripping while washing. This is particularly important if machine washing your curtains.

Machine Washing

It’s best to wash polyester curtains in cool to warm water on a gentle cycle. This reduces the risk of plastic-based fibers breaking down from the heat. Opt for a mild detergent without any brightening agents or bleach to preserve the fabric’s color.

Hand Washing

It’s appropriate to hand wash your polyester curtains if they are embellished or delicate. These wouldn’t fare so well in a washing machine.

Fill a tub with warm water and gentle detergent. Submerge and swirl the curtains to work in the soap. Drain the tub and refill it with clean water. Rinse the curtains as often as you need until no more suds appear. Hang the curtains to dry.

Drying, Steaming, and Ironing Polyester Curtains

If the care label permits, dry your polyester curtains on a low-heat setting. Even better, hang them to dry. Remember, polyester tends to be sensitive to heat. It also easily develops static cling. To reduce the chances of static cling, use a fabric softener in the wash and/or a dryer sheet in the dryer.

In the event that ironing is necessary, set the iron on low and iron on the underside while the curtains are still damp.

If you don’t wish to iron, steaming is another great way to de-wrinkle your curtains. While the curtains hang, run a handheld steamer or garment steamer wand on a low setting over the surface. For stubborn wrinkles, slightly increase the steamer’s temperature and try again.

Washing Polyester Sheers

Polyester sheers require a different, gentler approach to washing. To avoid discoloration, they need to be washed more regularly than polyester curtains.

  • Before washing, soak them in cold water for five minutes.
  • Wash them with mild detergent on a gentle cycle for 2-3 minutes. It’s safest to wash them by themselves, but if you can’t avoid it, only fill the washer halfway.
  • Dry the sheers on a no-heat setting. Add two terrycloth towels to the dryer to cut down on the static cling. Remove the curtains from the dryer while still damp, then, hang and reshape them if needed.

Other Cleaning Methods

Too much washing is not good for any material—polyester included. But you should still keep your curtains clean in between washing with vacuuming and spot cleaning.

Vacuuming Polyester Curtains

No matter their material, curtains collect dust. By vacuuming your curtains every two weeks, you keep them looking clean without having to wash them too often.

Fun fact: there’s actually a drapery attachment with your vacuum! Using the drapery attachment and the extension wand, vacuum both sides of the curtains. It’s helpful to pull the panels flat to get the dust that’s gathered in the top pleats.

Some vacuums don’t have a reduced suction setting. In this case, put a nylon stocking over the end of the nozzle and fasten it with a rubber band. This keeps the vacuum from sucking in the fabric.

You can also use a lint roller as often as you want to collect pet hair.

Spot Cleaning Polyester Curtains

Sometimes, stubborn, set-in stains don’t come out in the wash. Make a gentle stain remover that’s equal parts vinegar and water. Before spot treating, test it on the back of the curtain at the rod pocket to make sure it won’t damage the fabric.

Apply the solution to the stains according to the care label instructions. Rinse the areas of application and let the curtains dry.

To keep your polyester curtains smelling fresh, apply fabric deodorizing spray in the interim.

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Related Questions

What temperature does polyester shrink?

Polyester is a resilient fabric and does not shrink easily. It would take temperatures of 155°F – 178°F in order for polyester to shrink. That’s why it’s recommended to wash polyester curtains in a cool to warm setting.

Summing It Up

Polyester curtains are durable enough to withstand a washing machine most of the time. On some occasions, hand washing is necessary. But always check the care label for the manufacturer’s instructions.

Brigid Levi
Brigid Levi

Brigid Levi is a wife, mother, and freelance writer who enjoys a good DIY project and creating beautiful spaces within her home. From cleaning and organization hacks to home decor ideas, she loves helping people in their quest to turn a house into a home. Her hobbies include pretending to be Joanna Gaines while updating her home with her husband and performing in local theater productions.

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