In most cases the problem is caused by the fabric weakening from long exposure to sunlight. Curtains that have been hung at south facing windows are the most likely to be affected.

The degree of mechanical action involved in perc drycleaning is not always realised. This solvent has a high density compared with water (water weighs 1kg/litre, perc weighs 1.62kg/litre) and this is reflected in the stress to which textiles are exposed in perc cleaning. Hydrocarbon solvents weigh considerably less than water and so generally subject textiles to less mechanical stress.

But if you inspect curtains carefully and systematically test any areas that you suspect may be weakened, you are unlikely to have a problem. Look in particular for striped, faded areas of fabric and test as follows:

1. Fold the faded fabric in half

2. Grip the folded fabric firmly between the thumb and forefingers of both hands

3. Stretch the fabric at the fold and gradually increase the tension.

If the fabric has been affected by sunlight you will begin to feel the threads starting to break as stress is applied. This test detects any weak areas without risk of causing obvious damage. If the fabric is tender, cleaning the curtains in hydrocarbon will reduce the risk of damage.
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