Tips & How To’s

How to Wash a Quilt and Care for it in the Right Way

Tim Parry


how to wash a quilt

Both machine-made and handmade quilts require adequate maintenance to remain in good condition for years to come. Besides, they're a lovely addition to any house, whether as bed coverings or wall art. Though washing your quilt regularly is unnecessary, different rules apply to delicate quilts. Most current cleaning methods easily damage quilts. Therefore to safely wash the fabric, here is how to wash a quilt effectively. Keep reading!

How Frequently Should You Wash Your Quilt?

Quilts, unlike sheets and blankets, it is best to wash as seldom as possible. Quilts are usually too delicate for regular washing since this might damage the fabric and cause the quilt to degrade. However, if you use a quilt daily, you may only need to wash it twice a year. If you have pets who love sleeping on your quilt, you may want to wash it more regularly but keep thorough cleaning to a minimum. 

Steps on How to Handwash a Quilt

Hand-washing is the preferred method for cleaning quilts.

Step 1: Examine the quilt for damage

We recommend you examine the quilt thoroughly to check that there are no loose threads, small tears, or stretched seams. If anything has to be repaired, use a needle and thread to repair it before washing your quilt.

Step 2: Get the bathtub ready.

Due to its size and weight, the bathtub is the perfect place to wash your quilt. First, clean your tub to ensure no chemical residues might damage the quilt, fill it halfway with cold water, and add detergent and color catcher (if using) according to the manufacturer's washing instructions.

Additionally, hand washing a quilt in a bathtub is certain to result in spillage, so dress casually and prepare to get wet. Also, it is a good idea to sweep your bathroom floor and keep a mop and heavy towels on hand just in case.

Step 3: Gently submerge the quilt

Place one end of the quilt in the bathtub and gradually add the remainder, ensuring that the quilt does not become tangled and is uniformly soaked with water and detergent. As needed, add extra water and detergent to ensure the quilt is completely soaked.

Step 4: Agitate gently

Swirl your blanket in the water for about 30 seconds, being careful not to splash water out of the bathtub. Allow it to soak in the water for about 15 minutes, swiping it gently halfway through.

Step 5: Rinse it well.

Drain the soapy water and leave the quilt in the tub. Then refill the bathtub with cold, fresh water and gently agitate the blanket for one minute to help release any dirt or detergent residue. Then, drain the tub, refill it with cold water and continue the rinsing process until the water is clean and soap-free.

Step 6: Add white vinegar

Once the rinsing water is clear, add half a cup of distilled white vinegar to remove any detergent residue, again gently agitating the quilt for about one minute. Besides, distilled white vinegar will keep the quilt's fabrics soft and pliable once it dries.

Step 7: Drain excess water

Drain the bathtub completely, then press each region of the quilt with your hands to force out any extra water until your hands can no longer press any further. (This may take a while; therefore, be patient.) As mentioned earlier, quilts are usually heavy when wet and having a second pair of hands will make the drying process much easier.

Step 8: Dry the quilt partially

Remove the quilt from the bathtub and place it in a clean hamper or laundry basket, preferably with a large dry towel on the bottom to absorb up any drips. You can then air dry the hand-washed quilt outside. However, avoid the clothesline and dry your quilt flat.

Steps on How to Machine Wash a Quilt

Step 1: Confirm that the quilt will fit.

Quilts are large, bulky fabrics that you should not force into your washing machine if they cannot fit and move freely. If this is the case, you may either hand wash your quilt as described above or have it professionally dry cleaned.

Step 2: Examine the quilt for damage

Examine the quilt thoroughly to check that there are no loose threads, small tears or stretched seams. If anything has to be repaired, use a needle and thread to repair it before dry cleaning the quilt.

Step 3: Wash the quilt

Set the washing machine to a gentle cycle and only use cold water. Follow the washing instructions on the bottle to add gentle detergent. Even though you use gentle detergent, the colors of your quilt may fade when machine washed. Add 1/2 a cup of non-iodized salt to the wash cycle or a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to help keep them bright.

How to Drying Wet Quilts

How to Wash a Quilt

1. Transfer quilt to its drying spot

As you transfer the wet quilt, support its weight. Hold it as if it were a baby, and avoid pulling on any one piece of the cloth. Keep in mind that threads in the quilt may pop if the weight is not adequately maintained.

2. Tumble dry on low with a garment if you want

This method usually works effectively for new, well-made, high-quality fabric quilts. You can dry the quilt completely. Alternately, partly dry it before laying it flat on a rack or outside to dry. However, avoid ironing or exposing your quilt to direct sunlight.

3. Allow the blanket to air dry inside.

If the weather does not allow outside drying, hang the quilt flat on a rack. Alternatively, put a few mattress pads on a bed (ensure at least one of them is waterproof). Then, set up a fan to blow horizontally towards the quilt for about a day.

4. Allow the blanket to air out outside.

If your quilt is dusty or has an odor, you may air it out outside to dry. Since direct sunshine can degrade fabric, choose a spot in the shadow. Spread it out on the ground or hang it on a balcony or clothesline. Place bed sheets underneath it and on top if you spread it out on the ground. Weigh down the corners. Besides, you can air dry handmade quilts or vintage quilts on a balcony by placing a mattress pad and spreading it out on top of it. Spread another mattress pad on top if birds are a major concern. When the top is nearly dry, flip the quilt over.

Tips for Maintaining Your Quilt clean.

1. Only wash your quilt when necessary.

Washing your quilt only when it becomes filthy can help it last longer. Even though you use your quilt daily, you should wash it once a year. Air it out on a drying rack between washes. Besides, if your quilt is a decorative accent that's rarely used, air it out a few times a year rather than cleaning it. Also, you might need to wash and care for your quilt more frequently than once a year if the quilt is used by your children, pets or even someone in the house who has allergies.

2. Use a vacuum or a lint roller as needed.

Using a lint roller, go over the whole front and back of your quilt. This will remove lint, thread tails, pet hair, and loose threads. And if your quilt is not too delicate, you can use a vacuum cleaner to vacuum it on the lowest setting with a pantyhose-covered brush attachment.

3. Freshen your quilt scent without washing it

For a day or two, place the quilt in a zippered cotton bag with a bar of soap. Alternately, you may use a fabric freshener product; ensure to verify the color-fastness in a tiny, inconspicuous area first.

4. Keep your quilt in a fabric bag in a dark, dry place.

When not in use, store your quilt in a cotton or muslin bag. But before storing the quilt, ensure it is clean. Remove and refold it once a month. When you pull your quilt out of storage, air it out, either outside or in a dry cleaner (on the low, tumble setting). For instance, try storing the quilt in a cotton bag or pillowcase.

5. Spot clean the quilt as needed.

You can remove stains on your quilt by gently dabbing them with white vinegar or a diluted quilt soap in distilled water. Ensure you blot the stain rather than rub it. Place a clean sheet beneath the blanket before flushing the area with cold water. However, avoid using soap or detergent containing bleach, fabric softener, or brighteners. Besides, if the marks are from the quilting process, brush them away or wipe them with a moist white cloth. Gray lines are generally pencil, and you can remove them carefully using a gum eraser.

Tips for Washing Handmade Quilts

  1. For fragile items, consider using a quilt wash or quilt soap. These products are dye-free and other non-natural ingredients and they're biodegradable, making your fabrics safer to wash.
  2. Since a wet quilt is so heavy, you may need assistance when lifting it from the tub or basin.
  3. It's not recommended to dry a handmade quilt in a machine since it may shrink the fabric and make your wrinkle and crumple.
  4. If your quilt has a lot of different colors, drop it into a color catcher sheet to absorb any stray dyes. While hand-washing or machine washing, you can use a color catcher.

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Tim Parry

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