Learn how and when to machine wash versus hand wash a quilt, as well as how to test a quilt for colorfastness, so future generations can enjoy it.
A quilt makes for a beautiful addition to your bed — but with any bedding, a quilt will eventually need washing. Pet paws, kids’ spills, and everyday use all cause a quilt to get dirty. So how exactly do you wash a quilt?
A thin bed cover with batting sandwiched in between two layers of fabric is called a quilt. If you own a quilt, whether it is hand-stitched or machine-stitched, you may have been delaying washing it out of fear of damaging it. However, if you can’t ignore those little stains or a buildup of dust any longer, this how-to guide is for you.
- How to Bind a Quilt? Step-By-Step Guide
- Batting for a Quilt: How to Choose the Right One?
- What Are Jelly Rolls in Quilting? How to Make One?
How to Hand Wash a Quilt?
You should refrain from washing your quilt in the washing machine if it is old or hand-quilted. The stitching on a quilt could come undone if it is put in the washing machine.
Here’s how to wash your quilt by hand.
Look over your quilt carefully for signs of damage before washing it. Now is the time to pull out the sewing kit and make any minor repairs if you notice any loose threads or stretched seams. In this manner, you can wash the quilt without aggravating minor flaws. If you don’t have a sewing kit or don’t know how to sew, you should get help from a seamstress.
Make sure your bathtub or large sink is clean first. Make sure there is no soap residue by giving it a quick once-over with the water. Finally, add cold water to the tub. Next, fill the tub with your mild liquid detergent that is fragrance- and dye-free. If you can find one, you can also use a quilt-specific soap.
Fill the water up to the quilt’s brim. By gently swirling it with your hands, gently move the quilt in the water. This will aid in cleaning up any dirt. 10 to 15 minutes should be spent with the quilt submerged.
Then, drain the soapy water from the tub. Adding a half-cup of distilled white vinegar and fresh water to the tub’s second fill. The vinegar will make sure that any detergent residue is removed from the quilt and will keep the fabric soft after washing. Give the quilt one more minute of gentle swishing.
Next, rinse the quilt. Drain the water from the tub again, and then refill it with more cold, fresh water. To get rid of any last bits of detergent, agitate the quilt in the water once more. Repeat the rinse process again until the quilt is completely free of detergent.
You must take out the quilt after draining the tub. You might need to ask a friend for assistance because a wet quilt is unexpectedly heavy. You can gently squeeze out some of the water, but avoid wringing it out completely because that could damage the quilt. A wet quilt shouldn’t be hung from a clothesline either because it runs the risk of tearing the seams.
You can substitute a drying rack instead. Alternately, spread the wet quilt out completely flat on the ground on top of a bed of dry towels. You can put a fan on the floor or open a window to speed up the drying process.
To help absorb some of the moisture, place additional thick towels on top of the quilt. If you have enough towels, you can press or roll up the quilt between the towel beds and then move the quilt to another layer of towels to finish drying.
How to Machine Wash a Quilt?
It’s not advisable to put a delicate heirloom quilt in the washer because a washing machine simply won’t be as gentle on a quilt as your hands. The quilt may wrinkle and the stitches may come undone when washed in a machine.
However, if you have a machine-stitched quilt from a retailer, check if the tag has washing instructions. You can machine wash something if it says it’s safe to do so. This section will show you how to wash a quilt in a washing machine if you have a regular quilt that can withstand it.
Make Repairs and Treat Stains
Examine the quilt for any stains or damage before washing. Repair any holes, rips, or tears, pre-treat stains with the proper stain remover, and trim any loose threads. To make sure a stain treatment product won’t harm the quilt, read the usage instructions. Some stain treatment products, like oxygen bleach, shouldn’t be used on silk or wool quilts.
Select Washer Settings
In cold water, quilts should be washed. When washing a quilt, use the delicate cycle, which has the machine’s slowest wash and spin cycle settings. For use with Quilt Wash, combine two scoops with one gallon of lukewarm water and stir until completely dissolved.
As you would liquid laundry detergent, pour this solution into the washing machine. If using a dye-catching sheet, place it in the drum of the machine along with the quilt.
Dry the Quilt
To finish drying without heat, quilts can be partially dried in the dryer on the lowest heat setting and removed while damp. To hasten the drying process, use dryer balls to increase airflow as the quilt moves around the drum. However, using a dryer can cause some quilts to shrink or pucker.
A quilt should ideally be air-dried flat to preserve its color. Never hang-dry a quilt, because its weight can cause stress to the seams, leading them to rip, and the batting can become bunched and lumpy. Dry a quilt instead by placing it flat on top of fresh towels; if necessary, place plastic sheeting under the quilt to protect the floor. For more uniform drying, turn the quilt every three to five hours.
Other Methods to Clean Your Quilt
Clean and freshen a quilt using one of these methods.
- Airing Outdoors
Take quilts outside once a year on a cloudy, dry, windy day to refresh them. Lay your quilts out on a dry area of ground that has been covered with towels or a mattress pad. To stop debris from falling on the quilts, cover them with bedclothes. Avoid hanging quilts on a clothesline to avoid stressing the seams.
- Using a Dryer
On a gentle cycle/air-dry setting without heat, a dryer can be used to refresh quilts.
A quilt can be preserved by having the dust and dirt removed from both the front and the back of the quilt. Put a nylon hose or net on the vacuum hose’s end and draw the hose over the quilt’s surface gently without rubbing it. Always give a quilt a quick vacuum before storing it to get rid of any dust or dirt.
- Dry Cleaning
It is a good idea to check references before choosing a dry cleaner to take care of your quilts because dry cleaning can cause cotton dyes to bleed or change color. If you want to dry clean a wool or silk quilt, take extra care. When spot cleaning or vacuuming don’t remove the soil, dry cleaning should be the last resort.
How to Spot Clean a Quilt?
Here’s how to spot clean to remove small stains that don’t warrant an entire wash:
- Use distilled water to dilute white vinegar or mild dish soap.
- Under the quilt, place a cloth.
- Apply the soap mixture to another cloth by soaking it, then gently dab it on the stained area of the quilt. Don’t rub it!
- Rinse the area or blot it with cold water until all traces of soap are gone.
To keep it free of dust, you can also vacuum your quilt on occasion. Put a nylon hose over the vacuum hose’s end and adjust the suction to the lowest setting. Following that, use the vacuum hose to gently vacuum the quilt’s front and back.
How to Care for Your Quilt?
The bed is one of the best places to store a quilt. On a freshly made bed, spread out the quilt to avoid creases. Place the quilt in a muslin or cotton bag and store it in a dark closet with a dry temperature if you need to store it away or don’t have an extra guest bed. Always avoid humid attics.
In order to avoid creases, check on your quilt every few weeks and refold it. To freshen it up, you can also take the quilt outside to air it out every once in a while between washings. Just make sure to keep the quilt out of direct sunlight.
Conclusion: Wash a Quilt
Knowing the right way to wash a quilt will help you preserve its beauty for years to come. Again, here are the steps to wash the quilt by hand:
- Inspect the Quilt
- Prepare the Tub
- Soak and Gently Agitate the Quilt
- Rinse the Quilt
- Remove and Air Dry
If you take care of your quilt properly (and you know now that it’s not even that difficult!) it can stay in mint condition for a long time! Any additional advice or techniques I ought to be aware of? Comment below!
How Often to Wash a Quilt?
Unlike pillowcases and duvets, less washing is better to preserve your quilt and keep the colors vivid. A quilt that is frequently used can be washed once every season. A delicate quilt like an antique or family heirloom should only be washed occasionally. If a quilt isn’t used frequently, you can get away with washing it just once or twice a year.
Can I Put My Quilt in the Washer and Dryer?
For more recent quilts made of high-quality fabric, use cold water and the gentle cycle on your washing machine. Use a mild, low-sudsing detergent like Dreft or Woolite. You can also throw a color catcher in if there are really saturated colors in your quilt. Line dry, or tumble dry on low if the quilt is well-made.