Learn how to wash a quilt efficiently and safely! The quilt is among the most useful and versatile items you can own. You can use it as bedding, wall decor, tablecloth, baby’s play mat, and more. You can even bring it during camping and picnics to stay comfortable as you lay or sit outdoors. As such, you should treat it with great care, especially when washing it.
How to Wash a Quilt - A Step-by-Step Guide
The good thing about quilt laundering is you don’t need to wash it regularly like your clothes. Experts recommend that you only do so once a year or when necessary, like when exposed to mud or accidents. Of course, the washing frequency will also depend on how and where you use it.
Being multi-layered and having delicate stitching, it’s understandable that many of you might be afraid of washing your quilt. Below is a guide on how to wash a quilt without damaging it, including the right cleaning agents you need to use.
What You Should and Shouldn’t Use
Before going through the correct way of how to wash a quilt, you must ensure that you have the right cleaning agents at hand. The general rule is not to use any kind of bleach, as it will damage the cloth's color and fibers. Fabric conditioners or softeners are also a big no-no because the coloring, brightening, and fragrant ingredients can damage the fibers and stitching.
With that in mind, with all the types of detergents, you can find in the market today, purchase one that is unscented, colorless, and liquid-based. One great choice is castile soap or baby shampoo if you have nothing else. However, you can also find laundry soap or detergents specially made for quilts.
In addition to detergent, you can also use distilled white vinegar to help maintain the quilt color’s brightness.
How to Wash a Quilt The Best Way
With the right detergent or soap at hand, here are the steps that you need to follow to wash your quilt at home.
How to wash a quilt steps:
Step 1 - Inspect
Like any other fabric-made items, the first thing you need to do is check the item’s laundry symbols or instructions. It will give you an idea of what washing and drying techniques you can and can’t do. It will also sometimes provide you the right water temperature to use when washing the quilt.
Apart from that, you must also check for the presence of stretched seams, loose threads, ripped areas, and the likes. Make sure you fix them first before proceeding.
Next, inspect for the presence of embellishments. If there are, it’s best to hand wash the quilt, or if the quilt itself is machine-washable, you can place the quilt in a mesh bag before throwing it in the washer.
Lastly, if your quilt has vivid, contrasting, or highly saturated colors, the quilt might bleed. As such, perform a colorfast test by doing the following:
- Dip a clean piece of cotton in hot water
- In one small area of the quilt, gently rub the wet cotton.
- If the color comes off or gets transferred to the cotton, consider using a color catcher when machine washing.
Step 2 - How to Wash a Quilt
Once you've prepped your quilt, you can start washing, either by hand or machine, depending on the care instructions. Below are the right steps for each washing method.
How to Wash a Quilt by Hand
Undoubtedly, whether the quilt is handwash-only or washer-friendly, the best way to launder it is by hand. That is most especially if you’re washing hand-quilted, antique, and hand-appliqued quilts. To ensure you wash it with great care, here’s what you need to do:
- SINK - Prepare the sink, tub, or basin that is bigger than the quilt you’re about to wash. Make sure it’s clean and free of any leftover detergents, soaps, or any other chemicals or products.
- PROTECT - Place a clean blanket, piece of cloth, or towel on the sink, tub, or basin that will serve to support your quilt. It will also ensure it won’t have direct contact with the receptacle, which might damage the quilt.
- WATER & DETERGENT - Add water to the receptacle, just enough to submerge your quilt completely. Then, add the right amount of detergent, depending on the product’s instruction, and then dissolve it completely in the water.
- SUBMERGE - Slowly dip your quilt in the soapy water, submerging every centimeter of it. Gently agitate the quilt for at least 10 minutes to remove any dirt or dust attached to it. Remember that as you agitate, you should avoid wringing or twisting it.
- RINSE - Drain the dirty, soapy water and refill the receptacle with fresh, clean water. Gently agitate to release any dirt and detergent in the quilt. Repeat this step and when you see that there is little to no soap, for the next rinse cycle, add 125 milliliters or half a cup of distilled white vinegar to the water. Do a final rinse using fresh, clean water only.
- DRAIN - Drain the water and gently press on each area of the quilt to remove excess water. Repeat the process until you only see a little amount of water coming out of the quilt.
- REMOVE EXCESS WATER - Get a clean, white towel and dab it on the washed quilt or remove the quilt from the tub, sink, or basin and place it on top of a clean, white towel or absorbent cloth to remove excess water for easy drying.
How to Wash a Quilt Using a Washing Machine
For machine-washable quilts, here are the general steps to follow to ensure they come out clean and free of damages:
- WATER & DETERGENT - Fill your washer with cold water, and while filling, add the right amount of soap or detergent. Completely dissolve the detergent in the water using your hand until it gets a little bubbly or foamy.
- PROTECT - If the fabric’s dye bleeds or you want to be on the safer side, especially when washing your quilt with other items, add a little amount (as per product instructions) of your preferred color catcher.
- SOAK - Slowly place the quilt in the machine, ensuring it’s soaked completely. Leave it for 15 minutes, checking and agitating once in a while.
- CYCLE - Set your washer’s cycle to gentle and timer to five minutes, and let the machine do its job.
- DRAIN - Once done, drain the water. Refill with fresh water. You may add half a cup of distilled white vinegar. Set the washer to one gentle rinse cycle, and let the machine do its job.
- REMOVE EXCESS WATER - Remove your washed quilt from the washer and place it on top of a clean, white towel or cloth to absorb any excess water.
How to Wash a Quilt that is Yellowed, Smelly, or Soiled
Washing too soiled quilts or those with yellowish stains and pungent odor is similar to those discussed above with just a few additions. That is, after filling the tub or machine with cold water, you must soak the quilt in it overnight. Drain the water and remove the quilt before adding fresh water and adding the detergent. Then proceed.
Step 3 - Dry the Quilt
Once some or most of the excess water have been removed, carefully transfer your quilt to the drying location. Ensure no parts touch the ground, and you’re supporting all its weight without pulling any section to keep the threads intact. Like the main washing process, you have two options in drying your washed quilt: manually and via a machine.
How to Dry a Quilt Manually
Air drying your washed quilt will take longer than machine-drying, but it’s better in terms of preserving the item’s quality. That said, you must also follow the correct steps to prevent the stitches from popping or loosening and the fabric from sagging.
One of the easy ways to air-dry your washed quilt is to place it on top of a flat rack, away from direct sunlight that can cause color fading. You may also hang it on your balcony or clothesline. Another technique is to lay it flat on the ground, on top of a clean mattress pad, bedsheet, or towel, and then place another one on top of the wet quilt. Ensure you turn the quilt over when the other side is nearly or completely dry.
At times, the weather or the outdoor conditions are unsuitable for air-drying your washed quilt. In that case, find a good spot in your home. The best ones are near the windows.
Place the quilt on top of a drying rack or do the mattress pad technique as above. Switch your electric fan on with the air directed to the quilt.
How to Dry a Quilt in a Dryer
Perfect for new and durable quilts, here are your options when machine-drying your washed quilts:
- Place the quilt in your tumble dryer for three to four minutes using a low setting. The quilt would still be damp after, so you must continue drying it using any of the manual processes discussed above.
- If you plan to use your dryer, set the machine to low heat and the time to five minutes.
How to Maintain a Quilt - Bonus Tips
Since you’re not required to wash your quilt regularly, below are some of the best ways to maintain it before its wash day, whether you use it or not.
Let It Breathe
Once a week or every two weeks, hang your quilt outside away from direct sunlight and expose it to the air. The air will help remove any dust, loose dirt, and smell clinging to it. You must also do this every after you use your quilt. Then, tap it a little before folding and storing it.
Freshen It With Scents
Whether your quilt has long been in storage or you’ve used it recently, it will have a certain odor that you might notice immediately or after a few days. Apart from letting your quilt breathe, the best way to give it fragrance is to place your quilt in a sealed bag with soap.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Place a small bar of mild soap in a mesh bag and put it in a sealable bag that can fit your quilt.
- Fold your quilt neatly and place it inside the sealable bag.
- Leave it for half an hour or an hour.
- Remove the quilt from the bag, spread it out, and place it on top of a drying rack. Leave it for five minutes, fold, and then store.
Vacuum or Run a Lint Remover
To ensure your quilt is free from pet hair, lint, and loose thread, run a lint remover over it after use.
Spot Clean as Necessary
Washing your quilt as soon something gets spilled on it that can cause stains is recommended, but when it’s only in a small area, you can spot clean it by doing the following:
- Place a clean, white cloth on a flat surface, and then place your quilt on top of it.
- Dilute mild detergent, baby shampoo, or distilled white vinegar with water using a 1:2 ratio.
- Soak a piece of cotton or a small cloth in the solution.
- Slowly dab the stain.
- Repeat the steps using new cotton or cloth each time until the stain lightens or you’ve removed it completely.
How to Wash a Quilt - In Conclusion
Maintaining your quilt’s quality and beauty isn’t as difficult as it seems as long as you pay attention to the products, materials, equipment, and techniques you use to wash it. How you care for it after use and when in storage is also one of the contributing factors to ensure your quilt stays with you and your family for a long time.