So, We’re *Apparently* Supposed To Be Washing Our Curtains


Specific laundry practices always seem to cause a stir. From how often you wash your sheets to when you should swap out your towels, it seems like a f*ck-ton of chores have recently been added to our home-tidying-to-do-lists. And, listen, a lot of them fall under the “we know we should be doing this, but…” umbrella. Still, washing our curtains? Make it make sense!

A big old internet discourse began on this topic in late 2023 when TikToker Dalton Smiley shared a since-viral video. “Somebody please tell me why I just got back from somebody’s house, and they didn’t have any curtains up,” starts Smiley. “They were like, ‘Don’t mind me! Just washing the curtains.’ What?!”

Smiley continues, completely dumbfounded, “You know me, I didn’t want to look dumb, so I was like, ‘Hahaha! Hate when that happens!’ But are we supposed to be doing that? Why are we washing them? How often are we supposed to do that?”

Turns out, yes, you’re supposed to wash your curtains. But it might not be as hard as you’re thinking, nor does it need to be done as often as some of the other linen washing happening in your house. So, don’t stress yet — this one might be easier than you think.

Why do you wash curtains?

In many homes, curtains are about as immovable as the candlesticks on the mantel. You hang them to look pretty but probably use blinds to keep the sun out or add privacy, leaving your curtains pushed to the side for the most part. Because you don’t touch them every day, you just don’t think about them being dirty. It’s not like you’re wearing them.

Just like those candle holders, though, untouched curtains collect dust. That dust can do a number on your allergies and overall health. Furthermore, if you have kiddos who constantly like to hide behind said curtains to push them to the side to check the weather, they’re probably dirtier than you realize. Just consider their grubby tablet screens for an idea of what the edges of your curtains might look like.

How often should you wash your curtains?

Unlike the revelation that literally no one is washing their sheets and towels nearly enough, the idea of adding curtain washing to your laundry list of, well, laundry can feel downright undoable. But make no mistake, though: Your curtains don’t need to be washed as often as your sheets or towels.

Wash your curtains every 3-6 months.

The long span between washes is probably why you never noticed your parents washing their curtains. It’s a thing best done when your kids are at sleepovers, spending the night at their grandmother’s, or just when they’re at school. And, since you do it so infrequently, it’s easy to take them all down and do them in one to two loads.

If you’re trying to figure out how to remember to wash those curtains, consider timing it with another chore you have to do. You should change your smoke detector batteries every six months. You turn off the water to your hose bib at about the same frequency (before the first frost and after the last frost are often about six months apart in the Midwest).

If you suffer from bad allergies and want to try washing them a little more often, try doing it each time the seasons change.

What can you do to extend the time between washing curtains?

The actual washing process of most modern curtains (like anything you bought from Target or Walmart) is fairly simple and similar to washing clothes. But getting them down to do it and back up can be a real challenge — not to mention expensive if you have to pay to do laundry. You can delay washing your curtains as often if you:

  • Spot treat. Use a Tide stick or other stain remover to treat stains or grubby hems.
  • Vacuum. Use the brush attachment and the lightest suction option, if you have one, and run lines down the length of your curtains. This will suck up dust and keep your air clean.
  • Shake ’em out. If you’re feeling squirrelly, gather them up gently, one by one, and take your curtains outside to give them a good shake. (You probably have memories of your grandmother doing that, right?) At the very least, give each curtain a gentle shake or fluff before you broom or vacuum the floors. This will disturb the dust and hopefully knock off quite a bit so your sweeper can slurp it up.

How do you wash curtains?

In most cases, you’ll wash your curtains using the instructions on their label or tag.

No tags? Did you cut that out, make them yourself, or buy them second-hand? Stick with gentle detergent and cold water on the delicate cycle, and hang to dry if possible.

Curtain types you’ll want to be extra careful about when washing include lace, blackout curtains (they’re usually made of more than one fabric), or velvet.

You’ve got this, right?

Smiley’s final concern, “What other adult thing do I not know?! Because I’m at my max adulting, OK? I can’t do anymore.”

Same, Dalton. Same.





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