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Buying Machine Washable Curtain Panels

Machine washable curtain panels in a dining room.

Machine washable curtain panels are great for a busy or dusty home but there are a few things to consider before buying them.  Today I’m sharing a few tips for buying machine-washable curtains and what to do before hanging them.

washable white bedroom curtains in a bedroom

Styles I’ve Purchased Lately

Whether you have kids, pets, or just don’t want to dry clean curtains, machine washable curtain panels are a wise buy for your home.  Dry cleaning curtain panels is not always a practical option. I’ve made some mistakes when buying washable curtains so I thought I’d save you from making the same mistakes I did.  Let’s get to the details.

Are curtains or drapes machine washable?

I’ve been in the home decor industry for many years and I get this question a lot. If you’re asking this question then I’m assuming you’re talking about your existing panels and want to know, “Can you wash curtains?”

I would recommend that you do not wash your existing curtains, even if the tag says machine washable. Even machine washable curtains will shrink a bit and if yours do, they will end up being too short. If you’re willing to take the risk, lowering your curtain rods may be an option if they do shrink.

Take them to the dry cleaner if they’re worth keeping. If not, toss them out and keep reading so your curtains are machine washable the next time.

I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule. 100% polyester curtains washed in cold water and hung to dry may not shrink enough to notice. Cotton, on the other hand, can shrink quite a bit. Let’s get back to buying machine-washable curtains.

The Fabric

Not all fabrics are washable, so even if the manufacturer states they’re washable, I still look at the fabric content before buying them and I also read the reviews.  I’ve had the best luck with polyester curtain panels and there are quite a few out there that look amazing and you would never guess they’re polyester. 

I used to own a furniture and home decor store and I sold ready-made washable curtain panels.  Most of them were polyester and I had many happy customers.  They were the best machine washable curtains!  Here’s a few from their Amazon shop.

Pre-wash Before Hanging

Washable curtain panels may shrink, especially if they’re cotton.  Sometimes they can shrink a couple of inches.  If your rods are already installed, buy pre-washed cotton curtain panels or polyester washable curtain panels.  Again, read the reviews. I was redecorating our guest bedroom and I bought washable cotton panels and I did the one thing I knew NOT to do, I hung the rods and panels before washing the curtains. 

Guess what happened when I washed them?  Yep, they shrunk two inches.  I was able to lower the rods a bit, but I wish I had washed them first.

A lot of curtains are sold by the panel so another tip I’ll share is to wash one washable curtain panel first to see if it washes well.  I recently bought 4 white washable curtain panels for the living room and dining room. I washed one panel just to be sure that they were going to work out.  If I’d ruined it, I could still return the other three that were unopened.  They worked out great but it’s worth taking your time here.

The living room and dining curtains I bought are polyesters and I didn’t have any noticeable shrinkage.  I washed them on a quick wash and even dried them for 10 minutes and they came out perfect. 

They are semi-sheer curtains and they have a great weight to them. They also have a loose weave linen look and come in a few different colors (pictured above) If you like them, I’d buy them quickly because things don’t last on this site for long. 

When I dry curtain panels, I only put them in the dryer for 5 – 10 minutes to steam them a bit and release some wrinkles then hang them and let them air-dry the rest of the way. Set a timer so you don’t dry them too long. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before drying.

I bought washable white cotton curtain panels from Amazon. They were a great deal for the price but just be sure to wash them first. They come in three lengths. The picture below is before washing. If you’d like to read more about this guest bedroom refresh, head to this post. I had a hard time finding modern gold curtain rods and I love this one.

Lined Washable Curtains & Blackout Washable Curtains

You may be wondering if they make lined washable curtain panels or blackout washable curtains. I’ve found some at Pottery Barn. When lining curtains, a lot of people automatically think to line them with white fabric.

I used to help people decorate their homes and when we ordered custom curtains, I generally pick a lining that more closely matches the outside of the house so you don’t drive by and see these big white squares on a beige house.

Now I’m not suggesting you line curtains with black fabric if the outside of your house is black since it would fade, but if your house is gray or beige, consider lining the curtains with gray or beige lining instead of white.

I’m going to have to reach out to a couple of companies to see if their curtains are still washable once they are lined. I have never owned lined washable curtains. If you have and have great success, let me know in the comments. I’d love to update this post with some good referrals.

These curtains offer a blackout version and they also say they are blackout curtains you can machine wash. I’d also look at these blackout curtains Amazon has. They come in several colors and three lengths and have really good reviews. Look at all of the colors they come in! I also found these at Home Depot.

Hanging The Curtains

So this subject is up for debate I’m sure, but I like my curtains to just barely touch the floor. Seeing the baseboards drives me crazy. This is another reason why I love having washable curtains.

I love white and I’ve put white curtains in a bedroom, living room and dining room and I can rest assured that when needed, I can wash them. So tell me, are you team ‘touch the floor’ or do you prefer they don’t touch at all? Don’t forget to pin this post for later! It really helps me a lot when you do so thank you!

white machine washable curtain panels

Happy crafting,


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  1. This was a timely post for me. I am on the hunt for curtains for our short-term rental. Thanks!

    1. I’m so glad it helped. I don’t have a single set in our house that isn’t washable. Thanks for stopping by Libbie!

  2. These tips are great to know! Thanks for all the research

  3. I am so glad I found your post. I JUST bought some cotton curtains yesterday. And these tips and tricks will definitely help me.