Caring for your quilts


Quilting is my favorite hobby, and the one that consumes most of my time. Since quilting has been popular for quite a few years now (I got started in 1980) it seems possible that you may have a quilt in your home that you need to clean.

If you have been using the quilt on a bed, it is possible that the quilt has stains from food or body oils. A quilt that has only used for display will probably have more dust and dirt from the air than stains.  Quilts can best be cleaned using one of two methods.

You can choose to vacuum a quilt or wash it with water. Vacuuming the quilt puts the least stress on the quilt.  You will want to use a small screen and a small vacuum.  The screen will be placed between the vacuum and the quilt.  The screen prevents damage to the quilt from the suction of vacuum on the quilt as you clean it.  You should vacuum both the front and the back of the quilt.  Pay special attention to the creases in the quilt and try to remove all dust from those areas.  Resist the urge to give the quilt a good shake outdoors.  The shaking can stress both the quilting stitches and the piecing stitching.  Additionally, if the fabric in the quilt is old and delicate, shaking can damage it, too.

If you must wash the quilt, you will want to check to be sure that all the fabrics in the quilt are color fast.  If the dyes run while washing, you will have more stains to clean than just oils and dirt.  Use the largest place possible to wash the quilt.  This may mean washing it in the bath tub.  Avoid over agitating the quilt and wringing it out.  Be sure to use a very mild soap, preferably use one designed for washing quilts.  Rinse the quilt well and allow it to drain as much water as possible before moving it to dry.  You can dry the quilt outside, in the shade on a sheet.  If you want to use the clothes line to dry it, make a hammock out of a large sheet and lay the quilt on it.  You may want to lay it over several different clothes lines to spread the weight of the quilt out over a larger area.  If the wet quilt hangs by itself, you may cause irreparable damage to the stitching in the quilt.

If you have more questions about cleaning your quilts, please call or email us at AnswerLine.  We would love to help you.


Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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