Julies Blog

Cleaning heavy curtains

by Julie Finch-Scally

For years I have been writing and telling people with heavy drapes or curtains, especially those with an insulated backing, to have them dry cleaned.

Oh yes, they should be regularly vacuumed, but for those every couple of year occasions when the dust needs to be removed from the folds across the top, I have always advised the curtains be taken down and cleaned by the dry cleaners.   I have now realised the error of my ways.

Last week I was trying to find out who made our curtains and climbed up to read a label sewn into the edge of one of the curtains. On reading the label I was struck by the large print that said DO NOT DRYCLEAN.

On further reading, the label explained that the curtains should be regularly vacuumed with the upholstery attachment but that was it. I must confess I was surprised but then I remembered how insulation backing used to be attached to heavy curtains.

It is only in recent years that insulated curtains have been made with rubberized material. Prior to that it was two curtains joined together by clipping the backing onto the main drapes. This allowed for the complete removal of the insulation curtain so the main drapes could be washed or dry cleaned. As most drapes contain too much material to fit into a domestic washing machine dry cleaning was the only option.

Now, or course, the insulated material is sewn in at the top with the main drapes where the curtains are folded into pleats. The curtains hang as one from the same hooks. They don’t seem as heavy as the older version of insulated backed curtains and are now easier to glide along the pelmet.

But that doesn’t solve the problem of what to do with the newer drapes now they should not be dry cleaned. Regularly vacuuming to remove the dust will help preserve the material but what happens if something gets splashed onto the drape. According to the label most of these curtains have been specially treated with a protection, so sponging off the offending matter with cold water and allowing to dry while still hanging is the answer.

Most of us rarely take down our heavy curtains, so maybe this is a better solution. But curtains in rooms hardly used collect dust therefore one must remember to regularly take the vacuum with the upholstery attachment and clean them. Start at the top and drag the upholstery attachment down to the bottom. Repeat this process until the whole curtain has been vacuumed and dust removed.

As curtains harbour dust, keeping them dust free helps control the dust in the room. I recommend vacuuming them once every six months.


Cleaning lights in the bathroom

by Julie Finch-Scally

Visiting many homes during my years of cleaning I was always interested in the variations of lights that people had in their bathrooms.  Some were fancy, similar to lights one finds in living rooms; some were similar to what are found in kitchens and many of them were oyster lights clamped to the ceiling.  More recently the LED and halogen lights in the ceiling have been the favoured system.

The lights in my main bathroom are small and hang off a rail: many kitchens have this system. 

Except for the ceiling lights, the rest can become quite dirty, and for some unknown reason get missed out during the cleaning regime.  Like the lights in a kitchen, bathroom lights suffer from constant humidity which causes any dust in the air to stick to the damp surface. 

Bathrooms are a great generator of dust.  It comes from the towel dust everytime anyone dries themselves down.  Most people do not believe how much dust towels can cause until they use dark coloured towels and find the coloured dust over the horizontal surfaces of the vanity units, toilet cisterns and ends of baths. 

Dust is light and flies up into the air, which means the light fittings, when damp, catch the dust and hold on to it.  Over the days and weeks the dust builds up and after a while the light being disseminated gets poorer.

Dusting the lights with a duster-on-a-pole isn’t really suitable because of the stickiness of the dust.  The best way to clean these lights, no matter the shape and size is with a damp cloth.  If the lights are hanging on the wall then they are easily accessible, but for the lights hanging from and on the ceiling a ladder is necessary.

I find a solid three step, step ladder is the best.  They are easy to climb up and I don’t have to stretch to reach the lights above my head.  As I try to clean my lights at least once a month I find a damp chamois works well for keeping down the dust.

If you haven’t cleaned the lights in your bathroom for a while I suggest you half fill a bucket with hot water and add some washing up liquid.  Turn off the power, pull on your rubber gloves, rinse out a sponge in the water, then wring out the excess moisture.  Climb up the ladder and wipe the sponge over and around the lights, including the bulb if it is not enclosed and remove the dirt.  You might find the surfaces have to be rubbed more than wiped as the dirt could have built up.  Once the sponge wipes over the surfaces smoothly the lights are clean.

You will now need to go over the lights to dry them out.  Use a dry absorbent cloth such as an old face towel, this way the moisture will be absorbed.  Climb down the ladder and turn on the power.  The lights should be shiny and bright.  Try and give your bathroom lights a monthly clean that way the bathroom will always be bright and light. 

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