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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Bernard

Top 10 Do’s & Don’ts of Drape Care

So now that you are responsible for a set of beautiful stage draperies for your space, here are some pointers to keep them looking their best for years to come.

A beautiful stage in a theatre with drapes

  1. Do keep the area around the drapes clean by sweeping up dust and keeping the drapes away from obvious dirt or mess. Dust is the greatest concern for the longevity of your drapes. It may discolour the nap and weaken the threads of the fabric over time.

  2. Don’t handle the drapes with dirty hands. Always wash and dry your hands prior to touching or using your stage drapes.

  3. Do ensure that the drapes are free and clear of obstacles when pulling the drapes open or closed to avoid accidental rips or tears.

  4. Don’t attempt to pull heavy objects using the drapes like a ground sheet or with them tied about the object like a rope.

  5. Do use a vacuum cleaner with a non-bristle drapery attachment to clean the drapes. Start vacuuming gently in the same direction as the nap of the fabric. Nap is the texture of a fabric with the raised fibres of the fabric going in a particular directions. Be careful not to use excessive force as it can damage the fabric. An alternative method is to take a standard corn broom and beat the backside of your drapery. This will dislodge the dust/dirt and cause it to fall to the ground. Be sure to sweep the floor after.

  6. Do use a vacuum cleaner with a non-bristle drapery attachment to clean the drapes. Start vacuuming gently in the same direction as the nap of the fabric. Nap is the texture of a fabric with the raised fibres of the fabric going in a particular directions. Be careful not to use excessive force as it can damage the fabric. An alternative method is to take a standard corn broom and beat the backside of your drapery. This will dislodge the dust/dirt and cause it to fall to the ground. Be sure to sweep the floor after.

  7. Don’t use the same vacuum and broom you use to clean the carpets in the main foyer.

  8. Do avoid liquids around the drapes (as in some cases, it may affect flame retardancy – see our post here about flame retardancy).

  9. Don’t drink your sweetened iced coffee while handling the drapes.

  10. Do store your drape away when not in use (for example, tied back, wrapped in drape bags, custom sticky finger bags or located in storage cupboards).

  11. Don’t leave the curtains out while you are building a set, painting or washing the floor.

And one final bonus pointer


Do follow the cleaning instructions specific to the type of fabric (IFR vs FR vs NFR) for your drapes. Some fabrics may be wetted and washed and not affect the flame retardancy whereas others will lose their fame retardancy.


Theatre with a colourful cyc and stage drapes

How to Care for Drapes


In all seriousness, drape care is quite simple and should not be time-consuming when done on a regular maintenance schedule. When drapes are cleaned and maintained regularly, they can last for more than twenty years.


Drapes should be stored away from daily activities and messy work like set building or painting. Drapes should only be handled by responsible parties who understand how to properly open and close the drapes. The tools needed to clean and maintain the drapes are simple – a broom and/or a dedicated vacuum are all that are needed.


Occasionally, spot cleaning may be required for your draperies. Please refer to the fabric specifications for your drapes. In most cases, where the fabric is Inherently Flame Retardant (IFR – link), the drape can be cleaned with a brush, cloth and some water and it will not damage the drapes or its flame retardancy. After the drape is washed and dried, a vacuum can be used to brush the nap.


One of the hardest things to remove from theatrical draperies is glitter. It loves to stick to the nap of the fabric and you will find it in every corner of the theatre for years to come. Unfortunately, we don’t have many helpful hints on removing glitter, and in this case, prevention is key.

The track system supporting the drapes should also be regularly operated, maintained and inspected. Over time, dust and grime may clog the carriers that run the drape along the track, making the system harder to operate.


How to Clean a Cyc

Theatre showing a Cyc drape

The above cleaning information is useful for theatrical drapes that are a cotton or polyester fabric. A cyclorama (cyc) is different and therefore needs to be maintained differently. A cyc can be made from canvas, muslin, scrim, filled cloth or PVC and each type of fabric will have different care instructions. In most cases, a cyc is made of a delicate fabric and can be damaged easily. Please reach out to us if you need assistance in managing the care of your cyc.




Summary


Scared to maintain your curtains or have some further questions? While we don’t clean drapes ourselves, please contact us and we can put you in contact with companies who specialize in the cleaning and retreatment of drapery.


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