When water stains mar your drapes, you may wonder how to clean linen curtains at home. Though the stains can be removed with a little pretreating and gentle laundering, leaky windows or improperly installed flashing may result in more damage to your curtains. Take time to repair the problem to avoid additional rain water stains on curtains, carpets, walls and flooring.
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Pretreat Water Stains on Curtains
Unlined linen curtains, unless the label says otherwise, can be carefully washed in cold water. Before laundering, remove curtain hooks or rings from the curtains. Shake the curtains outside or use a lint roller to remove dust and pet hair.
Pretreat the stains by wetting the fabric and gently rubbing a white bar soap, mild dishwashing liquid or linen-compatible stain remover on the water marks. Test the stain removing product on an inconspicuous corner of the fabric first. Blot with a clean white cloth and repeat the stain treatment until the water marks fade from the fabric. Put the curtains in a sink filled with warm water and soak for 30 minutes.
Oxygen bleach is another effective pretreatment for linen curtains. Mix 1 scoop of oxygen bleach with 1 gallon of warm-to-hot water, and allow the solution to cool to room temperature before adding the linen curtains. Soak all the curtains at the same time, if possible, so if there's any fading or bleaching of the fabric, the colors will still match. Soak for up to six hours, then check to make sure the stains are gone before laundering.
Hand Wash the Curtains
Rinse the pretreated curtains, then fill the sink with cool water. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid or a mild laundry detergent and gently swish the fabric through the water. Lightly scrub the stained areas to remove any remaining water marks. Rinse several times to remove the detergent, but don't wring the fabric, which can cause creases.
Blot as much water as possible from the fabric, then lay flat or hang to dry. Iron the curtains while still slightly damp or mist with a spray bottle while pressing out any wrinkles.
Machine Wash the Curtains
Put the recommended amount of mild laundry detergent into the washer, then add the linen curtains. Set the washer on "Delicate" or "Hand-Wash" and the shortest wash cycle. Use the cold or warm water setting.
When the washer completes the wash cycle, check the curtains to ensure that the stains have been removed. If there are still visible stains, repeat the pretreatment and soak the fabric again before rewashing.
Do not put the curtains into the dryer until the stains are completely gone; the heat from the dryer will set the stain and you may never get it completely out of the fabric. Set the dryer on the "Air Dry" or "Delicate" setting or hang to dry on the clothesline. Iron the curtains to remove wrinkles before rehanging on the curtain rod.
Dry Clean Lined Drapes
Lined linen curtains should not be washed. Do not attempt to pretreat the fabric. Instead, take the stained curtains to your local dry cleaner. Show the dry-cleaning operator the marks on the fabric and consult with them on how to remove water stains from curtains and other linen items.