Tips and Tricks

Quilt Care Basics With Anita Goodesign

Washing a handmade or antique quilt can be quite stressful. A lot of time goes into making each quilt and the thought of ruining any portion of it can make you feel a bit uneasy.

While this might seem like one of the most intimidating tasks on your to-do list… have no fear! We have some tips and tricks to help make the cleaning process a lot less scary.

Washing Your Masterpiece

Our handmade sewing projects are very special to us. Each stage within the stitching process takes a lot of time, and of course, love. This is why we want to handle each project with extra care. If you have been gifted the most prized possession, an antique quilt that has been passed down from generation to generation, it is important to avoid washing your quilt as much as possible. While most textiles can be washed, they can fade over time and the cleaning process reduces their life expectancy. 

For quilts that have been around for a while, the washing machine could cause agitation, unravel your stitching or distort your batting and fabric.

Should I Use A Washing Machine?

To expand the life cycle of your quilts, consider hand washing with cool water. Since quilts are often large objects, you may want to use your bathtub as your “washing machine”. It’s important to note that you may want to test a small area of your quilt before jumping in and washing the entire project completely. Start by making sure your tub is rinsed prior with just water, and make sure to avoid bleach or reside from any cleaners that are typically used in showers. Then, lay a white towel down (Keep reading to see why you’ll need this!) on the bottom of your tub and run your water. Make sure to use cool or room temperature water to avoid any potential shrinkage of the fabrics. Be sure to fill your tub up high enough to submerge your quilt completely.

Should I Use Soap On My Quilt?

It’s important to use only a small amount of soap; just a little dab, that’s all you need! Gentle soaps or detergents, such as those used for babies or even dish soap are perfect for this project. You’ll want to avoid heavier, highly scented detergents as they can potentially stain your fabrics. Use care when washing to remove any dirt or buildup, and if any stains linger you can blot lightly with a white rag and additional soap. Again, you’ll want to avoid stain removers as they can discolor fabrics, particularly with vintage or antique items. Once all the soap is rinsed, you’re ready to remove your quilt from its bath! When removing your quilt from the tub, it is VERY important not to pull your quilt directly out of the water when finished. Heavy water can damage your quilt. Use the towel you laid down at the bottom of your tub to help bring your quilt to the surface.

Can I Hang My Quilt To Dry?

You’ll want to lay your quilt as flat as possible to dry instead of hanging, this will prevent it from potentially becoming misshapen due to the weight of hanging. One of the most popular ways to dry a quilt is outside! Oftentimes our dryers are too small for this type of task and they can be too harsh for a handmade quilt. Along with washing machines, dryers can also cause damage to your quilts. They may melt your textiles, distort your materials, or cause your blocks to unravel and fall apart.

Will Sun Exposure Ruin My Quilt?

Try laying your quilt outside on a blanket or on in a shaded area. It’s important to keep your projects away from as much sun exposure as you can to avoid fading your quilt. Laying your project flat instead of draping them on doors and hangers is always best. This will help to avoid snagging and creasing your quilt.

Should I Just Dry Clean My Quilts?

The process behind dry cleaning correlates with the same ideas behind washing machines and dryers. The chemicals used when cleaning your quilt could ruin the fibers and threads that hold your project together. It is highly recommended that you do not have your quilt dry cleaned.

Can I Spot Clean My Quilts?

As much as we try our best to keep our specialty projects away from dust and grime, it’s not always the easiest task to tackle. We are human after all! Spots and stains happen. The best way to spot treat your quilt is to use mild soap and white vinegar. Do not scrub during this process! Gently dab and flush with cold water and avoid using any products that contain bleach. Once you have finished rinsing, lay your quilt flat to dry!

Is It Okay To Vacuum My Quilt?

If you do choose to vacuum your quilt, we recommend using the hose attachment as this is the best way to avoid damaging your textiles. While this may seem like the easiest way to clean your quilt, you still need to proceed with caution. Avoid placing the vacuum hose directly on the quilt especially when you have specific embellishments like beads and buttons. Use a textile such as tights or a nylon window screen to cover the end of your hose to avoid snags or mishaps.

How Do I Store My Quilt?

One of the most important tactics when storing your quilt is to make sure it’s completely dry and put away out of direct sunlight. If you store your quilt while it’s damp, you risk your project growing mold and mildew as it will not dry out properly. It is also best to not place your quilts on top of each other. Layering multiple quilts on top of each other can cause permanent creasing. Avoid storing your quilts in plastic bins. Air-tight containers in high heat can cause your textiles to deteriorate faster. If you have a guest room in your home, we recommend laying your quilt across the unused bed and out of direct sunlight. This will ensure that no permanent fold lines are in the making! You can also roll your quilt! Use a large sheet for outside protection. If you choose to use plastic-like materials, you will want to make sure they are acid-free. Acid-free containers stop the deterioration process. Once you have established how you would like to store your quilt, the last and final quest is to place your item in a cool dark room. Storing your quilts in environments such as an attic will cause mildew to grow due to the amount of moisture that is in the air.

I hope these tips and tricks will help you along the way and make washing, spot treating, or drying your quilt a lot less scary! 

As always, thank you for joining me!


About Brooke Berglund

Hi there! I’m Brooke, your Content Specialist from Anita Goodesign. As we relaunch Anita's Blog, I am sew excited to join you in this journey where our two worlds—embroidery and sewing—collide. Together, we will find new ways to enjoy our passion for embroidery, all while exploring all of the creative avenues this industry has to offer. As someone who is mostly known as your video seamstress, as well as one of the story tellers behind your All Access magazine, I plan to make this blog fun and informative for all! Whether I am behind the computer or in front of the lens, I’ll be with you 100% of the way.

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