Hanging blackout curtains with rubber backing helps your home retain heat in winter, keeping things cozy and even helping to lower your heating bill. The downside is that these curtains tend to be more difficult to clean than simple fabric curtains. Heavily soiled rubber-backed curtains or drapes may have to be taken to a professional cleaner or possibly be replaced altogether. But for dusty or lightly soiled curtains, you should be able to clean them at home without damaging the fabric curtains or rubber backing.
Wait for Warm, Dry Weather
Washing rubber-backed curtains is a job best saved for a warm, sunny day for a few reasons. These curtains tend to be heavy and bulky, and washing them outdoors lets you spread them out so the rubber backing doesn't stick to itself. Outdoor washing also lets you use a hose, which can be a more efficient way to wash large curtains than trying to wrestle them into a tub for handwashing.
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To wash rubber-backed curtains outdoors, hang them from a clothesline or spread them out on a clean tarp. Spray the curtains thoroughly with a hose. Use a clean, large sponge (as you would use to wash a car) to work mild laundry detergent into the fabric. Rinse the curtains with the hose until the water runs clear with no suds.
Machine Wash Only After Inspection
When washing rubber-backed curtains by hand outdoors isn't an option, you may be able to safely machine wash them — but only if the curtains are in good condition. Any small tears in the fabric or damage to the rubber backing may be made worse by a trip through the washing machine. Assuming the curtains don't have any signs of wear and tear, and there's no manufacturer's tag telling you otherwise, it should be safe to wash them with cold water and mild detergent using your washing machine's most gentle setting.
A key reason why it's advisable to wait for warm weather to wash rubber-backed curtains is that they should always be air-dried, even if you decide to wash them in a washing machine. Curtains treated with a rubber backing should never go in a dryer or the rubber will start to crack and peel, ruining the backing and clogging your dryer with bits of rubber. You may hang wet curtains up to dry indoors, but the rubber backing means that they'll dry slowly and mildew may set in if you're air-drying them in a poorly ventilated room.
To encourage faster drying time, set up several chairs or drying racks so you can lay the curtains out flat. Set up fans and dehumidifiers in the room. You may rehang the curtains when they're just slightly damp.
Use Steam to Banish Wrinkles
Once they're clean and have air-dried, rubber-backed curtains may look wrinkly and rumpled. You can't use the dryer or a clothes iron to get wrinkles out without risking damage to the rubber material. After hanging the curtains up, use a handheld steam cleaner to release any wrinkles. Smoothing out freshly washed curtains is just one of the many ways you can use a garment steamer around the home.