Cleaning Curtains

Diarmuid

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Oct 24, 2005
Location
Cornwall, UK
Now that it is summer, we have started tidying everything up at my theatre. I've been given the task of cleaning curtains which have assimilated years worth of dirt and muck. I managed to get rid of the spilt candle wax, by ironing through a piece of greaseproof paper, however I have come to a stop when I came to the brown paint. I was wondering whether anyone out there had a magic trick which would help me lift paint off of the curtains. I had considered using Turpentine/White Spirit however I am slightly afraid that might bleach the curtains a bit. I had thought of trying to get it out by scrubbing it with a wire brush, however that'll probably just trash the curtains.

Does anyone have any way to get out paint? Or are there any other curtain cleaning tips that you would like to share?

Cheers
Diarmuid
 

Van

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Portland, Or.
Ack! what mess!.
Congrats on getting out the wax. That can be tricky sometimes. There are a number of products available in paint stores here in the states that will soften up hardened paint, Sav-a-Brush is a brand name here,to restore improperly cleaned brushes and the like. I beleive most of them would be usable on curtains it's just a matter of mixing it in a large enough container so that you can soak the entire area. I assume these are blacks, probably velour? If they are commando cloth or Duvetyne, then you need to be careful as those products are typically not as color stable as Velour, or real Honest to goodness, velvet. There are commercial dry cleaners that specialize in cleaning large bulky items such as draperies, etc. These can get real expensive, real quick however. I would only use them as a last resort or if there is a stain , paint or something else you simply can't get out yourself.
There are directions on the Sav-a-brush packaging that detail how to use it on fabrics. 'Course all the usual disclaimers apply, test in an inconspicuous area first , we aren't responsible for anything yadda yadda yadda.
 

gafftaper

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I took a class on theater safety a few months ago and we did some experimenting with old curtains and what cleaning does to the fireproofing. Our simple and somewhat scientific tests showed that water and water with a detergent were devastating to the fire retardancy. However a curtain soaked in dry cleaning fluid showed no change in retardancy from the control. We took that to mean that when doing anything with curtains you should use a non-water based product or you'll loose your fire retardancy. Also in our case (a 20+ year old black curtain) the dry cleaning fluid didn't change the color of the fabric.

Like Van said... test in a place no one can see.
 

Van

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Oh yeah, that is something I didn't address. Anytime you clean curtains you need to either; re-flameproof them yourself, or get them re-flameproofed , depending on fire regulations in your area, I seem to remember folks saying that most areas of the UK have extremely strict fire inspections and regulations, so you might want to make sure and check with your local fire district < or whatever y'all call them over there:mrgreen:>
prior to washing/ cleaning curtains.
 

Grog12

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What kind of paint latex or something nastier?
 

TupeloTechie

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Oct 29, 2006
Location
New York City
sometimes water will also turn the curtains a different color, someone spilled a glass of water on our main and we now have a big white stain that the fireproofing chemicals left from getting water on them.
 

gafftaper

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sometimes water will also turn the curtains a different color, someone spilled a glass of water on our main and we now have a big white stain that the fireproofing chemicals left from getting water on them.
Yeah the fireproofing has a lot of various salts in it. I thinks it's a sort of super saturated situation... just a guess. Yeah once water hits it, the salt is released and it's not going back in. You just have nice white stains.
 

Van

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You can rid the curtains of the stains. use a damp cloth and wipe down the area. after it dries, get a suede brush and brush the areato remove the crystals. you should then re-treat the area with Flamex, or some other flame proofing compound. Sometimes just re-flame proofing the area will dissolve the crystals and reincorporate the excess salts into the curtain material.