Cleaning Guides

How to Clean Net Curtains

Fashions come and go, but if you’re looking for a way to maintain your privacy while still letting light in through an overlooked window, net curtains are a classic choice that also adds a touch of class to any window.

The downside of nets is that their light, open weave traps dirt, dust, and if there are smokers in the house, nicotine odours and stains. If not regularly cared for, net curtains look dull and even a little shabby. Worse than that, dirty nets just won’t let as much light through so the whole room gets cast into shadow.

Happily, net curtains are relatively easy to care for, just so long as you treat them gently.

Read on if:

  • Your net curtains are looking grimy and dull or smell less than fresh.
  • Cleaning the windows doesn’t brighten the room.
  • You want to know how to clean net curtains and return them to a light, bright and airy condition.

Pre-treat your net curtains

Because net curtains pick up so much dust and appeal to spiders looking for a base for their webs there’s probably a lot of loose and easy to lift dirt trapped in the fabric. Pre-treating the curtains will increase the effectiveness of your main wash. Options for this include:

Vacuum the curtains – This will get rid of dust, mould spores and spiderwebs but little else. If you’re pushed for time it’s better than nothing but not the best option.

Use a vinegar soak – A bucket or basin of lukewarm water, with a cup of white vinegar. Add the curtains to the mixed water and vinegar solution rather than the other way round so that there’s no risk of the curtains coming into contact with undiluted vinegar. Immerse the curtains fully and leave to stand for an hour or so.

A vinegar soak is good for lifting stains and removing odours but should never be used on nets made of linen. Most modern net curtains are polyester, but if in doubt don’t use vinegar.

Use baking soda – Add a cup of soda to a bucket of lukewarm water. Again, leave to soak for an hour or so. Like vinegar, baking soda will help to break down stains and remove odours. An hour or so of soaking should make the main wash much more effective.

You can pre-soak in either vinegar or soda. For really dirty curtains you might like to follow one with the other. Alternatively, use a specialist stain remover, following the instructions on the packet.

After soaking and once you’re satisfied that the curtains show no obvious stains rinse them well. Rinse in cool water and repeat the rinsing until the water runs clear. Do NOT wring the curtains to remove excess water.

You may also like:
Cleaning Guides
How to Clean Curtains Without Washing

How to hand wash net curtains

Most experts agree that the best way to wash net curtains is by hand. To hand-wash nets you’ll need:

  • A large bucket or basin;
  • Detergent suitable for cool hand washing;
  • Lots of lukewarm water (no hotter than 30 degrees C);
  • A towel.
  1. Add the detergent to the water, mix well then add the curtains. Give them a few minutes to soak then agitate gently. Resist the urge to scrub or rub at the nets. It’s better to go back a stage and repeat your stain removal processes than to rub the curtains, they’re too easy to rip.
  2. Once you’re satisfied that the curtains are clean, rinse them. As with the soaking stage, expect to repeat rinsing several times to remove all dirt, detergent and soap.
  3. Don’t wring the curtains out. Instead, wrap them in the towel and squeeze them gently to encourage the removal of excess water. Wringing can cause creasing which will never fully fall away.
  4. Once the curtains are hand dry, hang them up and allow them to fully dry before returning them to the windows. If you haven’t yet cleaned the windows this would be a good time!
You may also like:
Cleaning Guides
How to Clean Wallpaper Stains

Machine washing

Most modern net curtains will withstand machine washing. If your nets are antique or heirloom pieces you might do better to stick to hand washing, otherwise, providing the care label doesn’t indicate that the nets must be hand-washed, you can use your machine so long as you follow a few simple rules:

  • Pre-soak as described above to remove the majority of dust and dirt.
  • Never put the curtains in a general wash with something that might damage them.
  • Use a delicate cycle and a low temperature, no higher than 30 C.
  • Choose a good quality detergent that will be effective at low temperatures.
DO NOT spin or tumble dry – Spinning may crease the curtains, the heat of tumble drying could damage them.

How to whiten net curtains

It’s normal for white net curtains to start to look dull and discoloured over time. Getting rid of dirt will go a long way to restoring them but you may need to take some extra steps to get them really bright. Want to know how to make net curtains white again? Your options include:

  • Using baking soda or white vinegar, either as described above for pre-treatment or in a final rinse.
  • Lemon juice, one cup in a bucket of lukewarm water will serve as an alternative to vinegar.
  • You can use bleach, but be sure to dilute it well before you add the nets to the water.
  • As a gentler and safer alternative to bleach, use sterilising tablets or denture cleaning tablets.

How to remove mould from net curtains

Surface mould can sometimes be vacuumed away, this will also remove spores that cause the mould to spread. If you’ve caught mould early this may be enough. If your curtains are very mouldy you may not be able to save them. Before you replace them it’s worth trying the following:

Baking soda – Yes soda again! Try a more concentrated paste of 2 cups of soda to just half a cup of water. Spread this over the affected area and leave it for 20 minutes or so. Then brush or rinse the soda away.

Commercial stain remover/bleaching agent – 1 part product to 4 parts of water. Place in a spray bottle and spray the curtains from a distance of around 20 cm. Leave for a few minutes then wash the curtains using either the machine or hand-wash techniques described above.

Once you’ve got rid of the mould you’ll want to keep it away, it looks unsightly and the spores are bad for your lungs. Moulds thrive in damp, airless conditions. Try to increase ventilation and if your windows tend to condensate, wipe them down every morning. Alternatively, you can use silica gel near the windows and curtains to absorb local humidity from the air.

You may also like:
Cleaning Guides
How to Get Rid of Mould on Curtains

How to remove nicotine stains from net curtains

Nicotine stains are inevitable if anyone smokes in the house. Apart from the unsightly yellowing, nicotine and the tar from cigarettes will cause the curtains to smell. Methods of removing nicotine include:

Cleaning net curtains with vinegar – As described in the pre-soaking instruction. Vinegar works well on curtains made from acrylic or rayon and is worth trying on nylon polyester net curtains. Moreover, vinegar is also very helpful if you need to remove nicotine stains from uPVC window frames.

An alternative mix for removing nicotine is – 1 cup of baking soda, 1/2 a cup of borax and 1/2 a cup of salt in a large bucket of lukewarm water. Use this to soak the curtains before washing.

Need a professional cleaner?

Contact Fantastic Services for outstanding results!

Add a valid postcode e.g. SE1 2TH

Hire a professional

If you don’t have time for cleaning, or if you’re concerned that you might cause damage, the best way to clean your net curtains is to call in the professionals and get them to do it for you.

Fantastic Services offers specialist curtains and blinds cleaning. The experts will come to your home, assess the pieces to be cleaned and use the most suitable cleaning method and products to get your curtains back to pristine condition.

Curtains are generally cleaned without any need to remove them from their hangings and are left both clean and dry.


  • Net curtains look great when clean and fresh but their open weave means they pick up dust and dirt very easily.
  • Cleaning net curtains isn’t difficult but because they are delicate they need careful handling.
  • Pre-treatments including vacuum cleaning and soaking increase the effectiveness of the main clean.
  • Lukewarm water of around 30 degrees C is best for washing nets, choose a detergent that’s effective at low temperatures.
  • Avoid scrubbing, rubbing, wringing, spinning or tumble drying.


How do you care for your curtains? Let us know in the comment section below!

Image source: Shutterstock / New Africa

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x