How to Wash Handmade Quilts

Give your special quilts extra care.

Give your special quilts extra care.

Handmade quilts are a meaningful part of many home linen collections. They come from your own hard work, grandparents, friends, craft fairs, or are handed down through the generations. They are often given for special and significant events, such as the birth of a baby or as a wedding gift. It may be tempting never to use these treasures for fear of ruining them, however, quilts are made to be enjoyed.

At some point you will probably need to wash your quilt. Even if it is hung on the wall for display, eventually it will gather dust. Here are some tips for cleaning your special quilt without damaging it or causing too much wear.

Hand Washing

About.com Laundry Tips suggests checking your quilt for color fastness before you wash it. Take a white rag and wet it with cold water. Rub the rag over all of the different colors on the quilt. If any of the colors are picked up by the white rag, the quilt is not colorfast. You will want to avoid washing it because the colors will run or fade. Instead you can spot clean the quilt with water and mild detergent.

The best way to wash your quilt is by hand in the bathtub. Fill the tub with water and use a very mild, fragrance and dye free detergent. Work the quilt through the water for a few minutes. Then drain the tub and refill it to rinse. You may have to repeat the rinse process several times until the water runs clear.

Drying

To dry your quilt, lay it flat in a large space. You can use towels to soak up some of the excess water. If you lay your quilt outside to dry, keep it out of direct sunlight and cover it with an old sheet to keep the colors from bleaching in the light. Do not hang your quilt to dry because this will put a lot of pressure on the seams and could cause damage to the stitching.

Machine Washing

Quilting 101 recommends washing a quilt in the delicate cycle of a machine, preferably one without an agitator. Again you should use fragrance and dye free detergent and avoid softeners. You can add a half cup of vinegar to the wash to soften the fabric. After the cycle is done, run it again with no detergent to ensure that the quilt is thoroughly free of any detergent.

Quilting 101 also states that you can dry a quality made quilt in a machine on low, just like you would any other cotton clothing.

Less Is Better

As with any piece of fabric, the less often you wash it the longer it will last. Wash your quilt as little as possible and handle it with extra care and it will last for generations to come.

How do you care for your special linens?

Image: “Wrinkly Oz Logs quilt” gina pina

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