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How to Clean White Curtains

Jillian Downer

While white is the color of purity, innocence, neutrality, cleanliness, elegance, class and illumination, it is also the most difficult color to keep clean in homes today. White curtains offer a sheer illumination, allow light into rooms and make a space feel bright, airy and open.

Clean White Curtains

If you love your home to exude all these qualities, but hate the hardships that come along with them, here’s a simple guide to help you remove that no-touch stigma that comes with having white curtains, so that you can keep that modern luxury without the headache and hassle of having a no-touch room. Here’s how to remove stains and yellowed-age signs in white curtains.

  1. Mix bleach with powdered dishwashing powder. Dishwashing powder is a trick that can be used with many of your whites and is especially great with yellowed washables like curtains. Use a combination of 1 part bleach, 1 part powdered dishwasher detergent and 4 parts hot water.

  2. Pick up some Rit dye remover from your local crafts store and use according to the instructions on the box. Rit dye remover is simply agitated in your washer and rinsed.

  3. Place your white curtains in a regular wash cycle as normal, but add a half cup of 20 Mule Team Borax. Set the wash cycle so that it agitates for at least 15 minutes and then turn the washing machine off so that the curtains can soak for and hour. After soaking, run a regular wash cycle.

  4. Combine bleach, baking soda and your normal laundry soap. Make a paste by combining 2 parts baking soda and laundry soap with 1 part bleach. Pour the paste into the washer before the curtains and start a normal wash cycle. Let the tub fill up a bit before tossing the curtains in. Let it agitate for about 15 minutes and then turn the washer off for 2 hours to allow the curtains to soak. After soaking, run your normal wash cycle.

  5. Soak your curtains in lemon juice and hot water. Use 1 parts lemon juice to 4 parts hot water and let soak for up to 2 hours. Rinse and then hang them outside in the hot sun. The lemon juice combined with the hot sun will help to bleach them. Leave them outside for up to two days.

  6. Tip

    In between stain removal washes,use an Oxiclean substance in your normal wash cycle. After using one of the above solutions in your washing machine, do a rinse wash to remove any substances that could harm your other washables.


    When using strong bleach solutions be sure that you’re in a well-ventilated room. Be sure to use a lot of water when using bleach or you will burn a hole straight through your fabric.