Need to wash an quilt?

I have gotten a few calls lately from callers that needed to wash a quilt. We always need to get a bit more information when giving washing directions. It is important to know the age and condition of the quilt along with how the quilt was constructed and quilted. In addition, is the quilt actually soiled or does it need to be freshened?

Callers need to know that a hand pieced and hand quilted quilt is more delicate than one that was assembled and quilted by machine. It is important to know if the quilt has been washed before, as some unwashed fabrics will bleed into the wash water. Often red or other intense color fabrics will run and discolor other fabrics in the quilt. We would advise using cool to cold water to wash this quilt and the use of Shout brand color catchers in the washing machine. Color catchers will adsorb the loose dye preventing dye transfer into other parts of the quilt.

You may want to wash a hand pieced and quilted quilt by hand. Usually the bathtub will be large enough to immerse the quilt and gently agitate the quilt. Letting water out of the tub is easier on the quilt that the spin cycle of a washing machine. You should plan to rinse the quilt by adding clear water and draining the tub several times.

The stitching in a hand pieced or hand quilted quilt is easily broken so it is important not to use a dryer. Air-drying is the recommended technique. If you have access to a clothesline, make a sling of a bed sheet and place the quilt on top to dry is the best option. Never allow the quilt to hang by the wet weight of the quilt. That is a sure way to damage the quilt.

A newer, machine pieced and quilted quilt is safe in the dryer on a gentle setting. It may be best to remove it from the dryer before it is completely dry. Allow it to air dry on a bed.

Please call us if you have other questions about washing a quilt. We love to help.


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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