Curtain and Upholstery Trim: How to Keep Trimmings in Shape and Clean

We’ve all been there. Washed that fancy new curtain you bought only to have the upholstery trim curl up like yesterday’s pasta, which is still stuck in the pot. Disaster! 

Washing curtains and upholstered furnishings that have delicate trimmings attached can be a real nightmare. Fortunately, this short guide will show you exactly how to care for your trimmings. 

How to Care for Upholstery Trim

Cleaning trimmings will depend on the type of trimming you are cleaning and to what surface or fabric that trimming is attached. Simply popping the furnishing into the washing machine may not always be possible or advisable. 

Washable Soft Trimmings

Starting with the easiest upholstery trim first, washable soft trimmings include tapes, fringes, and some cords. Be sure to check with the manufacturer whether the trimming you purchase is washable or not. By considering the material used in making the trimming, you can safely decide whether the trimming is washable. 

Trimmings made from cotton, acrylic, polypropylene, and polyester are usually safe to wash. These trimmings won’t stretch excessively, ensuring the pillow casing you’ve added to the washing load will still be the same size when it comes out the other end. 

When washing machine washable trimmings, be sure to use the lightest cycle, only add a small amount of detergent, and only tumble dry if absolutely necessary (and on the lowest heat setting with frequent airing out in between). 

Curtains dry best if you dry them on the window where they hang. Be sure to hang curtains with trimming in the shade. Remember that the heavier (when wet) trimmings can stretch the curtain fabric. 

Dry-Cleanable Trimmings

Not all trimmings are suitable for dry cleaning procedures. Rayon, viscose, linen, chenille, jute, and acetate are not suited to washing with soap and water. Instead, dry cleaning is advisable with these fabrics to prevent stretching and pilling. 

Cleaning Different Trimmings

Some trimmings are not suitable for washing and dry cleaning. How do you clean these delicate trimmings without damaging the fibers, beads, or threads? Simple, you get technical.

Depending on the fabric your trimmings are made from, you need to prepare for different ways in which to clean said trimmings.

Ball-and-Tassel Group

These trimmings are quite delicate, and if you do need to wash them, then do so in cool water, with minimal detergent, and air dry in a shady spot. Mostly, these will clean quite effectively when dusted with a soft feather duster. The main kind of dirt you will find on these is dust. Regularly brushing these trimmings will ensure they remain clean and grime-free. 

Pay special attention to the tassels to ensure these don’t become frayed. Gently wiping with a microfiber cloth can also be effective. Avoid pulling at the trimming, as the delicate threads that hold the tassels and ball fittings in place can easily snap.

Ball-and-Fringe Group

Like the ball-and-tassel group, the ball-and-fringe group of trimmings can be tricky to clean. Wiping these down with a soft microfiber cloth is one of the best options, but be sure to wipe in one direction only to avoid tangling the fringes. You can also use a soft-bristled brush to clean by brushing in one direction to dislodge any dust particles or grime. 

Tape Group

By far, the easiest group of upholstery trim to clean are taped trimmings. These can be washed with your curtain, or you can use a soft cloth and some mild detergent to wipe these when they are mounted on upholstery. Be sure to use water at a cool temperature to reduce shrinkage, and if you machine wash curtains with taping on, do so in the most gentle setting. 

Some tape will require ironing when it has been washed, so be sure to use an iron cover or place a handkerchief or old pillow casing over the tape to prevent the tape from developing an ironing sheen. This also protects fibers from melting, as some tapes are made using polyester and synthetic fibers. 

Corded Group

While the cord is very fashionable, it can be a nightmare to clean. For starters, cords are usually twisted and then sewn onto tape, which is then sewn onto the curtain or upholstery. This twisted feature gives the cord its beauty, but it also acts like a trap for soil, dirt, and grime. 

To clean corded upholstery trim, you would need to be one step ahead of the curve. Clean effectively as often as you can. This means you need to regularly brush your corded trimmings with a soft-bristled brush to remove any dirt particles before these get absorbed and form grime. 

If you do need to wash your cord-trimmed furnishings, then do so in cold water with minimal detergent. Rinse well, and don’t over-spin or tumble dry, as this will twist the inner core of the cord. 

Air-dry and gently straighten back into shape. In extreme cases, you may need to iron a willful cord that has been twisted out of shape. Do so with a cotton square or pillowcase in between the iron and the cord. 

Daily Care for Upholstery Trim 

By caring for your trimmings every day, you ensure a lifetime of service. Here are a few rules to keep your furnishings and trimmings looking their best.

UV Protection

Be sure not to leave furnishings and curtains with trimmings in direct or hot sunlight. This can lead to shrinkage and fading. Additionally, most trimmings have some synthetic fibers, which will melt and fray in hot light. 

Daily Vacuuming

By getting into the routine of giving your curtains or pillows a daily shake and light vacuum, you can add years of good service to them. This is not only good hygiene practice, but it will also remove any dust particles and prevent a build-up of grime. 

Spot Check and Repair

Since many kinds of trimmings can only be attached by hand sewing, it is essential to regularly check your upholstery trim. If you notice a few loose strands, be sure to quickly catch these with a needle and thread. Or if you see piping and tassels coming off your upholstered chairs, refasten these with the appropriate means (either use upholsterers glue or nailhead trim). 

Trimmings that are dangling will catch on people, pets, and other traffic, which can lead to a massive rip or serious fraying. Catch loose bits before disaster strikes. 

A Final View on Upholstery Trim

Good quality trimmings can be quite expensive, but if you care for these responsibly, it is well worth the cost. Follow the above rules for cleaning different trimming types, and stay ahead of the “fray.”

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