How to Make Your Draperies Last

DLI's Consumer News You Can Use: Vol. 43


Draperies can susceptible to a wide variety of problems, ranging from shrinkage and fading to stains and abrasion damage. Too often we only think of cleaning draperies after they’ve been framing our windows for a few years. Sometimes problems can develop over time while they are just hanging there, doing their job of beautifying out homes.

What problems are associated with draperies?

Because draperies are exposed to atmospheric conditions in greater concentrations and for longer periods of time than most garments and textiles, they can encounter a number of problems. Often these problems do not become evident until the item has been drycleaned or washed.

Some of the more common problems associated with draperies are damage due to light exposure; poor colorfastness; yellowing due to the deterioration of finishes or soil accumulation; water marks; shrinkage; abrasion damage; and deterioration of the coating or lining during cleaning. Some of these problems are a result of defects in manufacturing.

Others, however, such as damage due to light exposure, yellowing due to soil accumulation, water marks, and abrasion damage, can usually be attributed to circumstances of use.

What can you do to make your draperies last?

The American National Standards Institute's Fair Claims Guide for Consumer Textile Products gives the following life expectancies for draperies: • Lined Draperies 5 years • Unlined Draperies 4 years • Sheer Draperies 3 years • Fiber Glass Draperies 4 years.

How long a drapery lasts depends on the fabric type and density, finishes, window location, and length of use. But it also depends on their selection and the care they receive. Here are some tips to help you keep your draperies looking great:

• To protect drapes against yellowing due to excess staining and soiling, clean the drape at least once a year.

• It is best that you have your drapes cleaned by a cleaner who is experienced in the cleaning of drapes and is knowledgeable in drapery problems.

• Protect drapes from prolonged dampness. Moisture from rain, leaky pipes, or condensation from window panes can result in water marks and mildew.

• If possible, rotate draperies periodically to vary the amount of light exposure received.

• Protect drapes from abrasion damage by avoiding constant rubbing on window sills or furnishings while in use. Abrasion damage can also be caused by a family pet snagging the fabric with sharp claws.

• Keep draperies away from the kitchen, wood stoves, or fireplaces. Smoke from wood stoves, fireplaces, and cigarettes; cooking fumes; and other atmospheric contaminants can contribute greatly to drapery soiling.

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