Quilt Care

A quilt is made with loving care. It is both beautiful AND functional. Quilts are made to be used– as bed coverings, sofa throws, wall hangings, table runners, comfort quilts for kids. A quilt can hold up under gentle use, but it needs to be handled with care. Many quilts have been ruined by laundering, so be careful with yours. These tips will help you keep your quilt in good condition as it is used and enjoyed.

It’s important to know what type of batting was used to make your quilt. Keep a record in case you forget! Check the batting manufacturer’s directions for laundering and follow their instructions carefully.

Most cotton quilts can be washed in cold water, either by hand in the bathtub or in your washing machine on the delicate cycle. Use a mild soap such as Soakwash or Orvus Quilt Soap. Agitate manually for best results. Rinse several times to remove the soap residue.

Support the quilt as you lift it from the wash water. You may want to lay it on a shower curtain or a vinyl tablecloth for support to avoid stretching and weakening the stitching. Fiber is most vulnerable when it’s wet.

If machine drying is suitable for the batting in the quilt, place in your dryer on air-dry for 15 minutes to remove some moisture, then dry flat. Do not wring or hang a wet quilt.

I usually place a shower curtain and then a flannel sheet under the wet quilt and allow it to dry on that soft flannel surface. A flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth upside down would work too. I have spread quilts out to dry on the picnic table, patio, linoleum or tile floor, and even on the bed. Blowing a fan gently across the surface of the quilt will hasten the drying process.

Even if the fabrics were washed before making the quilt, laundering will usually shrink the quilt a bit more. This is natural.

If your quilt is antique, fragile, or damaged, please think twice before laundering it. You may want to consult a quilt restorer for an opinion before taking a chance with cleaning your quilt.  It may be more damaged by the laundering.

Storing your quilt properly protects it for the future. You can wrap it in a clean laundered cotton sheet, pillowcase or some muslin from your stash. Do not store in a sealed plastic bag. If you have a spare bedroom, you can put several quilts on that bed to store them flat. Some people wrap a Styrofoam pool noodle with muslin and then roll a quilt round that to store it. You can hang small quilts over the slack hangers– 4 or 5 runners or wall hangings in very little closet space!

Quilt Storage Straps are a new quilt storage system that can store several quilts in the back of your closet. See my Quilt Goodies page for a link.You can easily store a quilt in an archival box specifically designed for textiles.

Dry cleaning is not recommended for cotton quilts. Avoid direct sunlight to maintain the fabric color and strength. Good care will ensure that your quilt has a long life.



About Author: Donna Laing
Donna Laing is a quiltmaker who is passionate about her craft. She enjoys both traditional and contemporary quilting, and has an abiding interest in antique quilts. She has been quilting for over 40 years, and has made hundreds of quilts. She is the owner of North Star Quality Quilting, a professional longarm quilting service operated from her home in Bucks County.