Will My Curtains Shrink? Let’s Find Out

Will My Curtains Shrink

You were excited to put up your beautiful new curtains but now you’re wondering: will my curtains shrink when I wash them? After all, you will have to clean them eventually. Maybe there are dusty and dingy curtains that you’re dying to wash but you’re too nervous to take the plunge. Luckily, I’ve had many kinds of curtains and I know how they react to washing. Let’s find out below. 

Like other fabric housewares, whether or not your curtains may shrink depends on the material they’re made of. Find out what fabric or fabrics are in your curtains, and then use the appropriate way to wash them. Remember you have to know every kind of fabric in your curtains, including the material used for the lining. 

Do Curtains Shrink When Washed? 

You will need to know the materials your curtains are made of and check the label instructions to know if they will shrink when you wash them. You must know the fibers in not only the curtains themselves but the lining. Even if the fibers in the curtains are washable, the liner might shrink if you don’t take care of it as instructed. 

Certain kinds of curtains will always need to be dry cleaned. If you cannot find any definite information on how you should clean your curtains, dry cleaning is the safest way to go. If you ever wash in the washing machine, only use cold water. Hand-washing is always gentler and safer than putting an item in the washing machine. 

How to Freshen Up Your Curtains Between Cleanings 

If your curtains need special kinds of cleaning, you probably don’t want to do that too often. Even if you have washable curtains, it’s still a hassle to have to get up on a stepladder and take them down. That’s why it’s so useful to know ways of freshening up your curtains between washings or dry cleanings. 

First of all, you should vacuum your curtains on a regular basis. Your vacuum should have a special soft-brush attachment made for this purpose. If you don’t have this, look for a synthetic fiber broom with a long handle. You can use this to remove dust from your curtains. If you have the vacuum attachment and choose to go that route, put your vacuum at lower suction. If you forget to do this, you’ll end up pulling a bit of the curtain into the attachment. 

Another fantastic way to freshen up curtains is to air them outside, on a traditional clothesline. If you have curtains that you can take down quickly and easily and have outdoor space, you might want to do this quite regularly. 

Popular Curtain Materials 

Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular curtain materials below. As we discuss them, we’ll talk about whether you should wash or dry clean them. 


Sheer voile curtains earn their value for letting in lots of light. It may surprise you that voile isn’t just one fabric – voile curtains may be made from synthetic or natural materials. Examples of synthetic materials include polyester and rayon. If you have more expensive curtains, they may be a natural material, perhaps even silk. 

If you have voile curtains, find out the precise material. Check the label if it is still attached to the curtains. If not, you will need to remember where you bought the curtains and find ways to determine their precise composition. If you have silk voile curtains, you will certainly have to get them dry cleaned. If you have a synthetic material, washing in cold water without shrinkage may be possible. 


You know if you’ve paid for luxurious silk curtains. And if you know anything about silk, you know you absolutely must dry clean it. Don’t risk ruining your investment by attempting to wash silk curtains. If you do, there’s an extremely high chance they will shrink and get ruined. 

If you’re determined to wash your silk curtains and are willing to take the chance that they will shrink, be cautious. Use only cold water and gentle soap. Be ready for an enormous job, as you will have to hand wash your curtains. This is a messy job and will take you quite a while. And remember all the rinsing you will have to do, all with cold water. If you’re like most people, you will go with the much easier (and infinitely safer) dry-cleaning approach. 

One of the wonderful features of 100% silk curtains is that they resist bacteria and dust mites. Many people with pure silk curtains only vacuum their curtains. If you have pure silk curtains, you will probably hardly ever have to clean them. 


Velvet was originally made only from silk. Of course, curtains made of silk velvet would be tremendously expensive. If you have velvet curtains, there’s a strong chance they are made of an artificial fiber or even linen or cotton. Check the label just to be sure, though. No matter what the composition of your velvet curtains, you should usually dry clean. 

Do you have luxurious (and expensive) pure silk velvet curtains? If so, you will have to follow the instructions for cleaning silk that we go over later in the article. If you have velvet curtains made of another kind of material, you won’t have to be quite as terrified about cleaning. No matter what your velvet is made of, however, you should stick with vacuuming and spot-cleaning as much as possible. 


The specific materials used in your brocade curtains are key to determining how you should care for them. In all cases, though, brocade is a beautiful but fragile fabric. It will fray in an instant if given improper treatment. When you have brocade curtains, you will notice that there is backing. The backing is crucial, as it helps keep the fabric together. As brocade is such a delicate fabric, you should never try to wash it. Make sure to get it dry cleaned. Be careful not to damage the curtains when vacuuming, too. 


Lace curtains are popular for smaller windows and in cottage-inspired design. You can find lace made from artificial and natural materials. If your lace curtains are made of silk, you will have to be extremely careful with how you care for them. Make sure to read our section on silk above so you know how cautious you must be when cleaning silk. 

Lace made of other kinds of material, though, still needs a certain amount of mindful cleaning. If you try to put lace curtains in the washing machine, even with cold water, it is likely to get caught in the agitator. You are much better off hand-washing lace curtains. This shouldn’t be too difficult, as most lace curtains are used for smaller windows. If you happen to have large lace curtains, the hand-washing process will be quite laborious and messy. 

Do Your Curtains Have Ornamentation? 

If your curtains have any kind of fancy embellishment, swags, or permanent pleats, you will need to dry clean them no matter what the material. Even if your curtains wouldn’t shrink in the wash, the ornamentation will probably get ruined. 

Know Your Curtains

As we’ve seen here, different curtains are made of different kinds of fabric. You need to know what fabrics are in your curtains to find out if the curtains will shrink when you wash them. 


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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