Care of silk curtains

Written by andrea hermitt
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Silk curtains are the most luxurious of curtains and they provide an elegant aspect to your room design. Silk window treatments are easily distinguished from other materials with the crisp, creased appearance and reflection of light. But with beauty comes maintenance, as silk curtains require special care.

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History

Silk fabric has been in existence for centuries. In fact, evidence of silk use dates back to 3,000BC. Silk was discovered in China, with credit for the discovery going to Empress Si Ling Chi, who had a silkworm cocoon fall into her cup of tea. As she removed the cocoon, she discovered that was made of a beautiful fibre. The Chinese kept the secret of how silk was made for many years until the secret was reportedly smuggled into India by a Chinese princess who married an Indian prince. Silk is currently produced all over the world.

Washability

Before you attempt to wash silk curtains, you must first test it to make sure it can be washed. While silk curtains fair better with hand washing, there are several things that could prevent you from hand washing them. Some silks can shrink or change texture. Lining attached to the silk can shrink or change shape. Silk curtains with trim and other embellishments may not be washable. Before attempting to wash silk curtains, always test a hidden section to see how it reacts to water. If possible, when having silk curtains made, test sample fabrics so you can choose silk fabric that you will be able to wash.

Hand Wash

If you have determined that your silk curtains can be washed, you can hand wash it in a bathtub. There are several detergent options for washing silk. Some use expensive silk detergents, others use gentle shampoo. To be save, Woolite makes a good trustworthy detergent for silk.

To wash the drapes, soak them in warm water and detergent. After soaking, rinse the curtains using cool water. Do a second rinse by filling the tub with cool water and adding a cup of vinegar, then soak the drapes in this solution to remove any soap residue that could interfere with the sheen of the fabric. Rinse the curtains once more in clean water.

Drying

Silk curtains must be laid flat to dry and never wrung out. To remove excess water, roll the curtains in towels before laying it flat on clean towels. Turn the curtains to make sure they dry evenly.

Wrinkles

Hand-washed silk will wrinkle slightly. To remove the wrinkles, iron them on the inside while the curtains are damp. The iron should be on a low heat setting. Do not try to steam silk curtains because you can cause shrinkage and watermarks.

Dry Cleaning

If hand washing is not possible, dry cleaning will keep your silk fabric in good condition. Shop around to find a dry cleaner who specialises in cleaning silk fabrics and have him or her evaluate the curtains to tell you if it can be cleaned. There is no need to pay for a cleaning job that will be ineffective.

Protection From the Sun

In addition to cleaning your silk curtains, you will also need to protect them from the elements. Most specifically, you need to protect silk curtains from excessive sun. Silk curtains will fade and become discoloured in the sun and they can even rot from prolonged exposure. To prevent this, silk curtains should be lined, or you should hang a sheer curtains behind the silk curtains to protect them from the sun. It may also be wise to use silk curtains strictly for side panels to keep them away from direct sunlight.

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