How to Bleach Colored Curtains

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If you like your curtains but not the brightness or deepness of the color, it's possible to create a less brilliant hue. Using the sun, color remover, or bleach, you can create the shade of curtain you want. You will also often have the added benefit of removing stains during the process.


What you use to lighten the color of your curtains depends on how much color you'd like to remove from the fabric. If you just want to lighten the curtains a slight amount, you can use the power of the sun for fading. However, if you wish to make drastic changes in the color of the fabric, you will need to use nonchlorine bleach color-remover products or even chlorine bleach.

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Curtain Bleaching Basics

Before using bleach products on your curtains, check to see if the label says "no bleach." If it does, it is best not to use bleach on the curtains. Instead, try bleaching them in the sun. Most cotton materials and many synthetic materials can be bleached. However, it's not advised to bleach silk, wool, spandex, noncolorfast materials, and leather.


Before bleaching your curtains, do a spot test in a hidden location. See how the curtains respond to the bleaching solution. If the test spot holds up and achieves the desired result, it's OK to bleach the rest of the curtains.

Use caution when working with bleach, as it is toxic. Wear protective clothing, including gloves, a mask, and safety goggles. Avoid splashing bleach on clothing, as it will remove color. Also work in a well-ventilated area, opening nearby windows during the process.


Keep in mind that you should use warm or cold water when bleaching curtains. Hot water can cause bleach ingredients to become inactive.

How to Sun-Bleach Colored Curtains

If you only want the color of your curtains to be slightly lighter or more muted, you might be able to sun-bleach them. This is a safe, nontoxic way to bleach curtains. The process is especially effective during the summer months when the sun is hot and bright and the days are long. Follow these steps:


  1. Wet or wash the curtains.

  2. Hang the curtains from a clothesline or lay them flat on a clean surface outside. Position them so that they get the most direct sun possible.

  3. For added lightening, spray the curtains with lemon juice. Mix 1/4 cup of lemon juice with 8 cups of water. Pour the solution in a spray bottle and then evenly spray the curtains on both sides. The lemon juice reacts with the sun to provide even more bleaching power.

  4. Leave the curtains in the sun on one side for two to three hours. Then, turn them and wait another two hours. The darker the curtain color, the more times you may need to repeat this step to reach the desired color.



How to Bleach Curtains With Color Remover

Color-remover products contain a nonchlorine bleach that is less likely to damage curtain fabric than chlorine bleach. These products are used to remove or reduce color in fabric. Color remover works on cotton, silk, wool, rayon, ramie, and linen. Products for color removing can be used by simmering the curtains on the stove or placing them in hot water in the bathtub or a large container.


To use color remover on the stove:

  1. In warm water in the washing machine, wash the curtains using mild laundry detergent.

  2. Fill a large, stainless steel pot with enough water so that the curtains will be submerged. Heat the water to simmering.

  3. When the water starts simmering, add a packet of color remover according to the package directions.

  4. Carefully add the curtains to the pot. Keep it at a low simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check the color. If you want the color to lighten more, let it simmer another 10 minutes.

  5. Turn off the stove and carefully pour the hot water from the pot into the sink. Remove the curtains and rinse them in cool water until the water runs clear.

  6. Wash the curtains in the washing machine with mild detergent and hang to dry.


To use color remover in the bathtub:

  1. Prewash the curtains in warm water in the washing machine using mild laundry detergent.

  2. Fill the bathtub or another container with hot water and add a packet or packets of color remover according to the package directions.

  3. Submerge the curtains in the bath and agitate with your hands or a wooden spoon. Continue to do this until the curtains reach the desired color in terms of lightness. The process can take from 20 to 40 minutes depending on the fabric and the color you desire.

  4. Rinse the curtains in cool water until the water runs clear.

  5. Wash the curtains in the washing machine with mild detergent and hang to dry.


How to Bleach Curtains With Chlorine Bleach

If you want to fade the color on your curtains considerably, chlorine bleach may be your best bet, as it is your strongest choice. You can do the procedure in your washer.

Test the fabric prior to bleaching by creating a solution of 1/4 cup of water and 2 teaspoons of chlorine bleach. Dip a hidden section of the curtains into the mix. Wait a minute and then blot dry. If the fabric stands up to the bleach, you can continue with the bleaching process.


To chlorine-bleach your curtains:

  1. Create a bleach solution in your washing machine tub by adding 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach to each gallon of cool water. Submerge the curtains and soak for five to 10 minutes.

  2. Follow this with a regular wash using mild detergent.

  3. If the curtains still aren't light enough after they're finished washing, add 3/4 cup of chlorine bleach to the washing machine's bleach dispenser cup and wash them again.

  4. When the cycle is complete, hang the curtains to dry.



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