Skip to Content

7 Reasons Drop Cloths Make Terrible Curtains

Thinking of making cheap and easy DIY Drop Cloth curtains? Make sure you read about my drop cloth curtain experience first!​

So I have this room.

Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

It’s very sunny and pretty and dreamy. It’s kind of why I bought the house. Sitting in it makes me happy.

(Except there’s no furniture or anything interesting in the room at all at the moment, so sometimes I just go stand in there for a minute, staring out the windows and enjoying the sun. Is that weird?)

Regardless, in my attempt to make this room functional, I’ve decided to add curtains. However, do you see how many windows there are? So many windows = lots of curtains. 

Except I don’t have $300 to blow on curtains, so I’ve spent the past two weeks experimenting with cheap curtains options. Aka, sheets and drop cloths.

While I eventually came up with something both pretty and functional, there was a whole lot of failure first, primarily with the drop cloth curtains.

So I decided to write this post to share with you all the things the “Easy Drop Cloth DIY Curtains!!” Pinterest gurus don’t tell you.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.)

7 Reasons Drop Cloths Make Terrible Curtains

1. They Shrink in the Wash

You’re probably thinking, “yeah, but not that much,” which is exactly what I thought before I started. No. They shrink an absurd amount.

Here is the exact same 9’ x 12’ drop cloth, cut in half to fit in comfortably in my washer. The left side has been bleached and washed, the right side was about to go in.

Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

10 inches. The left half shrunk almost 10 inches in the wash. That is a considerable amount, and will definitely make these curtains shorter then you wanted if you have tall ceilings.

Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
2. Drop Cloth Lengths Aren’t Uniform

Take a look a this drop cloth. It is supposed to be 9 feet long, aka 108 inches. We’re a good 3 inches short.

Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

I could get mad at Harbor Freight (where I bought the drop cloths) about this, but some googling and review reading seems to show this is a pretty common complaint among drop cloth purchasers, no matter the brand. And of the three that I used, only one cloth was the full length of 108 inches.

3. They Don’t Function Well

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I will always, always pick function over pretty.

You can buy the prettiest desk, or drawer organizer, or curtain in the world, but if it doesn’t function well, you won’t use it, or you’ll try use it and end up with a giant ugly mess.

How an item functions is 100% the most important thing I consider before I buy or make something, and in my humble opinion, should be for everyone.

Drop cloths take effort to make look pretty. All those pretty pictures of drop cloth curtains you see on the internet were after a blogger spent 30 minutes arranging them *just so*.

That is not something you’re going to want to do every single time you open and close your curtains. So, if you plan on actually using your curtains for privacy and to block light, be aware they will look much less attractive with regular use.

4) Drop Cloths Don’t Bleach to White

Or at least, not reliably. I think I’ve read six or seven different blog posts about bleaching drop cloths. In every single one, there were mixed results in the comments section, with some people getting a perfectly white cloth, while others ended up with something even uglier than they started with.

Maybe this depends on the drop cloth makeup (100% cotton seems to help) or the bleach used, or maybe it’s based on whether you have a magic fairy waving her wand at your washing machine as you bleach your drop cloths.

I don’t know. What I do know, is that my drop cloths were supposedly 100% cotton, I used a ton of bleach, and left my drop cloths soaking in the washing machine overnight.

They got lighter, for sure. But not white. If I wanted a cream color, they’d be perfect. But when I tried hanging them in my space, they just seemed dingy compared to the white trim and blush walls.

Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

I’m not saying you can’t get your drop cloths white. I’m just saying it’s an unreliable process that depends on a bunch of different factors, so if you were hoping to get 6 uniformly white panels to make into curtains, start praying.

5. Drop Cloths Don’t Work Well Outside

Drop cloths are intended to soak up moisture. That’s the point. So if you intend for your drop cloth curtains to live outdoors, know that they will mildew. 

Washing them frequently could help, and there may be products that help the drop cloths resist this, but it will not be the simple “hang up and be done” project you were hoping for.

6. They’re Thin

You can see right through drop cloths – even the heavy duty ones. If you were hoping for curtains that darken your room or block people from seeing shadows in your house at night, these are not it. You’ll need to layer the drop cloth with another fabric to make them opaque enough for privacy or room-darkening.

7. There Are Equally Affordable Better Options

So, lets say you’ve decided to go through with drop cloth curtains. You’ll plan on one 9’ x 12’ drop cloth per panel, either to account for shrinkage when washed, or to fold in half to have a thicker 9’ x 6’ panel.

Harbor Freight, a discount tool supply store with bargain prices, sells 9’ x 12’ drop cloths for $15.99. Even with the 20% off coupon that Harbor Freight distributes, you’re looking at $30 for a pair of curtains.

I put together this list of 5 High Quality Budget Curtain options. All of them are under $30 per pair and at least 95″ long.

I intentionally varied the brands on my budget curtain list so you could see how many different options there were, but I could have created a list from Ikea curtains alone, they have that many choices.

As a result, if you’re going with drop cloth curtains to save money, know that you’re not saving much if there’s an Ikea style that suits your room.

But Maybe…

Maybe, if you were using your curtains in an indoor area with 8 foots ceilings, where they won’t be regularly opened and closed, don’t really need to block much light, and you don’t mind hemming the curtains so they’re all the same length, drop cloth curtains could be an easy, economical choice.

Alternatively, I used drop cloths as liners for the curtains in my office – they actually turned out pretty nice, adding volume and privacy to the budget sheets I ended up going with.

I don’t want to imply that drop cloths should never be used as curtains – I just wanted to make you aware of some of difficulties they come with them. Just remember the issues above, and make sure your plan will work despite those things. 

You don’t want to get home, wash your drop cloths, and then find that they’re too short to use but can’t be returned!

Find This Useful? Save it to Pinterest!
Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments


Thursday 16th of July 2020

I used RIT DYE to dye mine and let them line dry and iron and they came out just like I wanted. No complaints


Saturday 18th of July 2020

Glad to hear it!


Tuesday 9th of June 2020

I just made drop cloth curtains. I did not bleach them as there was no need. After doing so, I completely disagree with your article in almost every way! If you are reading this article because you want to make drop cloth curtains....just go for it!!


Wednesday 10th of June 2020

Glad they worked out for, Hannah!


Monday 8th of June 2020

I bought Drop cloths to use outside on my porch but I read That they will mildew I was thinking I wonder if I spray them with Scotchgard would that help ?


Monday 8th of June 2020

Worth a try!


Monday 27th of April 2020

Eight years ago, I made drop cloth drapes for my oversize living room, bedroom and office windows. I would recommend doing so to anyone who knows who is willing to do a few extra steps. First, all drop cloths can vary from dye lots. Check that the colours match before purchase. Second, as with all fabrics you intend to wash in the future, to preshrink in hot water and a hot dryer. No surprises later. Third, add a cup of vinegar to the wash to soften the fabric and remove any odour caused by fabric sizing. I would use drop cloths in the future because I like the natural linen look, at a bargain price. I am currently sewing a drop cloth roman shade with blackout liner. All my drapes are French pleated at the top and hemmed with a generous hem. They look very expensive.


Friday 1st of May 2020

This is a great system!

Jean S

Wednesday 15th of April 2020

I appreciate you sharing your real-life experience with drop cloths! Is it OK if I share my experience, which is a little off-topic, because it has to do with making drop cloth table cloths? I made one for my kitchen/all purpose/every day table, and initially loved it (actually I still do) BUT because it is so absorbent, stains (like everyday grease stains) are very difficult to remove... unless you are willing to spend lots of time scrubbing on it (which I'm really not always willing to do). I still use it stains and all, and just chalk it up to that "functional farmhouse" look - but I might have thought twice about it had I ever heard anyone mention that particular quality of drop cloths.


Thursday 16th of April 2020

I never even thought about that, but it's so true!!

Comments are closed.