TO HANDWASH WHITE COTTON CURTAINS, the first step is to shake them out gently to get rid of as much dust as you can. Then let them soak for ten or fifteen minutes in lukewarm suds to loosen the soil. Without twisting or wringing them, lift them from the water and drain it away. Then wash the curtains carefully in lukewarm suds made with pure white soap flakes or a mild detergent. Squeeze the suds through them; don't rub or scrub. If they still look dingy give them a second washing with fresh suds. Think twice before adding household bleach to your first rinse. It will weaken the fibers a little even when it is used carefully and rinsed thoroughly. Most sheer cottons need to be starched to look their best, excepting organdy with a permanent finish, and even this material loses its crispness after a number of washings and needs starch or some other finish. Use blued starch or adds bluing to your own starch mixture, taking care that it is evenly distributed.
MACHINE WASHING WHITE COTTON CURTAINS. Soak them briefly then give them two short washings. Run the machine three to five minutes for the first wash and about two (with fresh suds, of course) for the second. Rinse carefully, blue, and starch. Hang them straight for easier ironing.
TO IRON CURTAINS fold them lengthwise down the middle and iron them double, with a lengthwise stroke. If the curtain is ruffled first iron the main part, doubled to the edge of the ruffle, then iron the heading and the top and bottom ruffles. Iron the side ruffle last and touch up the body of the curtain. By this method the main part of the curtain is finished before it has a chance to dry out. The ruffles usually remain damp enough to be ironed without constant rewetting and it is much easier to touch up the curtain proper if it accumulates wrinkles than to re-do mussed ruffles. Do not iron sheer starched curtains when they are too wet. The iron will pick up starch and stick to the material, often scorching or tearing it.
COLORED COTTON CURTAINS are handled much the same way, provided they are colorfast, but test them if you are not sure of their reaction, and always dry them indoors or in the shade. Some cotton that is fast to water is not fast to light, and fade more quickly if exposed to the sun when wet. Very sheer curtains can be rolled almost dry in a turkish towel, then ironed.
ORLON, NYLON AND DACRON CURTAINS are in the easy-care bracket. These are sturdy fibers and if the curtains are well stitched, they can go into the washing machine and be laundered with heavy duty soaps or detergents in warm water. If they are delicate or poorly seamed (can you pull out loose threads?) you had better do them by hand. Pat a little detergent into any especially soiled areas before you begin.
IF YOU LAUNDER SYNTHETICS BY HAND, you will find it easy because these curtains are not often heavily soiled. They usually do not require soaking, but it will not harm them. Simply fold them into suds made with lukewarm water and a detergent, and gently press the suds through them until they are clean. Do not wring or twist. Rinse thoroughly and then hang them over a line to drip dry. Dripping gives synthetics the greatest freedom from wrinkling.
IF YOU MACHINE WASH SYNTHETIC CURTAINS you may need to smooth them quickly with an iron set for **nylon" or "rayon." Tumbling them at low temperature in a home dryer may leave them comparatively wrinkle-free. Orion, nylon, and dacron curtains do not need to be starched or blued. Properly washed, they should not need bleaching ever. But if they are old and a shade or two off-white you can bleach them as you would white cotton fabrics. This treatment is described in the chapter Fabrics and Finishes.
Shake the cotton curtain gently to get rid of the dust. Soak them before washing them. Hang them while drying to make them easier to be ironed. Iron the curtain with the lengthwise stroke, Orlon, nylon and Dacron curtains can be washed using washing machine or be laundered. For synthetics, you can launder or wash them by hand if they are not heavily soiled. But if you prefer to wash it using the washing machine, set the machine for nylon or rayon.