How do I Care for Velvet Curtains?

Susan Grindstaff

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.

Velvet curtains may be washed in cold water, but should be hung out to dry.
Velvet curtains may be washed in cold water, but should be hung out to dry.

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.

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Discussion Comments


@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.


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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