A controversial view perhaps but I believe that if you want your curtains to hang beautifully for as long as possible – DON’T get them dry cleaned.
In the 20 years that I have been making curtains, by far the most common complaint I see is when curtains have come back from the dry cleaners and they have either shrunk or simply don’t hang the same as they once did.
Let me explain why this can happen. Curtains are constructed with a main fabric and a lining. Sometimes they might have a layer of interlining between these two and stiffening in the heading if they are pinch pleated curtains.
Rarely, are the main fabrics and linings made of the same composition and herein lies the potential problem. Once the curtains go through the cleaning process, the solvents used can disrupt the fibres in the fabric and cause one or both to stretch or shrink. The method for dry cleaning curtains mostly uses a dry solvent which doesn’t penetrate all the way through the fibres. However, any dry cleaner worth their salt will advise that anything up to 5% shrinkage can occur. So on a pair of full length curtains, this can be as much as 10cm!
Have you ever seen a curtain where the lining is curling around the main fabric and not hanging straight? It is highly likely that the curtain has been dry cleaned and the lining has shrunk, thereby pulling the main fabric out of shape. Or the heading pleats which once stood up smartly against the track or pole, are now hanging limply? This is because the stiffening has lost its structure. If either of these scenarios happen, your curtains are ruined FOREVER.
Of course, there are many occasions when dry cleaned curtains do survive the process but it is a risk that you need to consider. Especially if you have spent many thousands on your beautiful curtains.