COUNTY EXTENSION REPORT

This is the second article in a series on how to take care of your quilts. This article will focus on how to clean my quilt. It seems as though in America, anything that is made of a textile just can’t get dry-cleaned or washed enough. Both are a bad idea in this instance, as they tend to fade colors, wear out fabric, and generally shorten the life of quilts. If you do have a quilt dry-cleaned, use a dry-cleaning company that specializes in such cleaning. Contact a museum with a textile collection for recommendation. Keep in mind that dry-cleaning can absolutely shred some quilts, and in some cases the dyes or mordants will again create some very unexpected effects. So how do you clean your fragile quilt’ One way is to spread an old sheet out on your carpet. Put your quilt on top of it and weight it down. Get out your vacuum and connect the upholstery attachment. Put some netting (such as bridal netting) on the brush and secure it with a rubber band. Vacuum one-quarter of the quilt at a time. When you have completed the top, turn it over and do the back the same day. This will get the dust out and freshen up your quilt. If the quilt is less fragile, it can be put in the dryer, on air only, for about fifteen minutes to remove dust and refresh the quilt. You may have a quilt, however, that just has to be washed or wet cleaned. When in doubt, leave cleaning to a professional. Wet cleaning is a slow process and should be attempted only on quilts that are strong and color fast. Quilt conservators recommend non-ionic detergents such as Orvus Paste, Ivory Liquid or Ensure. To wet clean your quilt, dye test all fabrics before doing anything else. Use a soft, clean cloth and room-temperature distilled water. Wet the cloth and press it against the fabric to determine if the dye is fast. If not, stop. Next, test using a detergent solution. If any fabric bleeds, stop. If the colors are fast, fill the bathtub with lukewarm distilled water (80 to 85 degrees) and put in detergent and mix. Put the quilt in the solution and move the quilt around with your hands and then let it soak. After 20 minutes, drain water, hand squeeze out the water and rinse. Rinse in distilled water and then hand squeeze out the water again. Dry the quilt flat on a sheet indoors or on the lawn with a sheet over and under it. Never hand a quilt on a line to dry. Do not store or fold the quilt until it is completely dry. Again, this cleaning process is recommended only for strong, color-fast quilts.

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