How to Clean Velvet


Gary asked: I have both silk and velvet curtains. They are too big to take down. Can they be cleaned using a steam cleaner? Is there anything else I should or shouldn’t use?

Both velvet and silk are luxurious fabrics that require special care to keep them looking beautiful. Velvet can tolerate more cleaning methods than delicate silk, but still needs special care when cleaning to preserve the soft texture of the nap. If the velvet has a special texture or treatments, it is best to have it professionally cleaned. If you decide to try it on your own, here’s what you need to know.

You Will Need:

  • Vacuum
  • Dish detergent
  • Water
  • Dry cleaning kit
  • Sponges or
  • Soft cloths
  • Bucket

Steps to Clean the Velvet:

  1. Avoid getting velvet too wet when cleaning. The drier the method, the better.
  2. Vacuum the curtain to remove as much dirt and dust as possible.
  3. Mix a small amount of dish detergent with water and agitate well.
  4. Use a sponge or soft cloth to apply only the suds to the surface of the velvet.
  5. Blot to remove.
  6. There are home dry cleaning kits available in the laundry aisle. Check the labels as many of these work by using a dryer. If the piece won’t fit in the dryer, these will not work.
  7. Dry cleaning solutions can be used to treat stains or dirty areas of the curtains. Apply the solvent following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  8. Allow the velvet to air dry completely.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • With some velvets, the nap can be restored with a steam cleaner. With others, such as crushed velvet, the moisture will ruin the texture. Check the care instructions and ensure the cleaning method you choose is safe for the type of velvet you are working with.
  • NEVER use steam on silk items as the heat will damage the delicate fibers.
  • Always test a small area first to make sure the cleaning method provides the desired cleaning effects.
  • When in doubt, leave it to the professionals. Both silk and velvet curtains are an investment that is worth paying to take care of properly. When choosing a professional ask them directly what their experience is with the types of materials you have to ensure they are qualified.
  • For additional information on cleaning silk, see our guide How to Wash Silk.
  • For additional information on cleaning velvet, see our guide How to Clean Velvet Upholstery.


  1. Those at-home dry cleaning kits specifically indicate that they are NOT for use on velvet, etc.

  2. What if I wash them in cold water and put on low to dry, then hang them in the bathroom? Doesn’t say how to clean them.

  3. Sandie,
    The goal with washing velvet is to use as little water as possible, as water can ruin some types of velvet, particularly crushed velvet. Follow the steps in the article to clean the curtains. (Vacuum them, then mix dish liquid and water in a bowl or bucket, skim the suds off the surface of the water onto a sponge (only the suds, no water), and wipe the suds onto the velvet. Then, blot with a dry cloth.) Alternatively, you can check the tag on your curtains to determine if they can be steam cleaned. Another option is to use a dry cleaning kit that is safe for velvet. Either way, you need to work slowly, section by section, to clean them.

Leave a Comment