Spring Clean Up: How To Clean Custom Draperies & Pillows

With spring in full bloom, Spring Cleaning seems to be on the brain. I get lots of questions about how to clean and take care of some of your finer custom items – particularly draperies and pillows…so here’s a little “elbow grease guidance.”

So – how DO you take care of custom items for which you spent important budget dollars? – particularly those custom drapes and pillows? Short answer:  With great care and thought or you can easily ruin them.

On the whole, and unlike apparel textiles, home furnishing fabrics are not designed to withstand laundering. The issues here are shrinkage and color fastness. All cleaning solutions do contain a variety of harsh detergents. In fact, what you consider a harmless hand soap will leave a film. Furthermore, certain fibers – rayon and silk in particular– should never be exposed to water. So what do you do to care for your custom pillows or draperies?


Always best to spot clean these with a damp white cloth as soon as a stain occurs.  HOWEVER – always first test the fabric with a white rag near a corner to see if any color from the cloth comes off on your rag. If it does, STOP! You do not have a colorfast fabric on your hands and need to call in a pro. The best way to clean custom pillows is to vacuum them each week with a clean vac wand attachment. This will remove dust and debris and should greatly prolong their life.


Under no circumstances should draperies ever, ever be dry cleaned or laundered. Remember – custom window treatments have a face fabric (the fabric you see), as well as interlining AND lining fabrics. That’s 3 layers of fabric in total. So it will make sense to you when I say that if laundered, linings, interlinings and face fabrics will shrink at different rates and the result will be a disastrously ruined treatment that no workroom can repair. Recommended care for all draperies is always the same:  vacuum in order to remove dust and debris. Do not touch draperies when opening and closing; instead use drapery wands which I always specify on my draperies. If you must touch your draperies to primp them, move them to vacuum, etc., do so only with well washed and very dry hands. Our skin contains natural oils – not to mention the residue that is left from hand lotions and facial moisturizers we applied earlier in the day.  These can and will harm sensitive home textile fabrics.

The take away?  Take care when “taking care” of your fine custom draperies and pillows and they will return to you endless hours, days, months and years of great beauty.