Like upholstery, drapery fabrics can be made of either natural fibers like cotton, linen, silk, and wool, or petroleum-based synthetics like polyester, nylon, and rayon. Try to avoid petroleum-based synthetics like polyester, nylon and rayon whenever possible. Not only do these curtains harm the environment but the chemicals that are used to make these curtains can make you and your family sick. Currently ready-to-hang organic curtains are hard to find, but if you are willing to do your research beforehand, you will be able to find them. If you really can’t find any eco-friendly curtains you love, you can buy fabric online and have custom made curtains (or make them yourself)! When purchasing curtains try to choose fabrics that have been colored with less toxic, “low-impact” dyes, or opt for naturally pigmented fabrics such as “color-grown” cotton. Another great curtain material you can choose is bamboo. Bamboo is a great eco-friendly material and it also looks great as a window shade!
It’s wise to avoid curtains coated with stain treatments and flame retardants. As with upholstered furniture, these treatments on drapery fabrics can be a source of toxic PFCs and PBDEs. If you’re concerned about the fire risk posed by untreated fabrics, make wool your fabric of choice, as it’s naturally resistant to fire and doesn’t stain as easily as other fabrics.
To make the most of your curtains’ energy-saving benefits during the summer months, look for styles that have a light-colored backing, which will deflect the sun’s rays and help reduce summer cooling costs. (If your chosen curtains don’t have backings, they can always be added later by a skilled seamstress.) On hot, sunny days, be sure to close the curtains on windows that face the sun–doing so will help keep things cool and ease your air conditioner’s workload. In winter close the curtains in rooms you’re not using in order to keep chilly drafts out and heat in.