Quilt Care

Manufactured quilts, much like garments, had care labels attached to them when sold. Follow this advice if it’s still there — or still legible. Many such quilts made of synthetic fibers are machine washable on a gentle cycle in mild detergents and tepid water. In general, be careful not to cram the quilt into the machine, or it may lose shape permanently. Consider using one of the large washing machines in a “coin-op” laundry if necessary.

Cotton quilts should be tested for colorfastness before being washed in a machine. Dampen a white cloth in warm water and dab at each color in the fabric. Take the quilt to a dry cleaner if any of the color rubs off onto the white cloth.

Synthetic and cotton quilts may be tumble dried on a low-heat setting. Use a large-capacity dryer so plenty of air circulates around the quilt.

Wash quilts made of shrink-resistant, washable wool by hand in a bathtub or washing machine tub using a very mild enzyme-free wool detergent and tepid water. If heavily soiled, soak the quilt for at least 30 minutes, then rinse well. Add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse water. Allow rinse water to drain away for several minutes. Excess water should be pressed — not wrung — from woolen quilts. “Roll up the quilt and push gently,” says Jeff Bredenberg, editor of Clean It Fast, Clean It Right: The Ultimate Guide to Making Everything You Own Sparkle & Shine. “Unroll it and repeat ... several times.” Hang the quilt on a double clothesline until dry.

Some experts disagree about caring for more delicate or valuable quilts — for example, antiques, hand-made patchwork, or those made of fine materials such as silk. Consumer Reports says these materials may be dry-cleaned, but Bredenberg advocates seeking professionals with greater expertise. “Quilt appraisers do not recommend dry-cleaning quilts,” he says. “Often, wedding-dress cleaners clean quilts and other fragile textiles.” Who’s right? Only you can judge that, taking into account the quilt’s sentimental or monetary value.

Protect non-washable quilts from body oils by folding several inches of sheet back over the top of the quilt when making the bed.

Additional references:

Don Aslett, The Cleaning Encyclopedia: Your A to Z Illustrated Guide to Cleaning Like the Pros.

Consumer Reports editors, How to Clean and Care for Practically Anything.

Precision Processes Textiles Web site: http://www.pp-t.co.uk/INFO%20pages/Archive/Washablewool.htm

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