Are quilts OK for normal wash/dry?
Question:I need to wash my quilt, is it OK to put it in the washing/dryer machine?
It depends on the quilt. First things first - DO NOT TAKE IT TO A DRY CLEANER! People seem to think that a dry cleaner cleans by magic and it's safe for everything. Actually dry cleaning isn't really "dry" - it just doesn't use water. Instead, they use chemicals, and they can really damage an old quilt.
Whether or not you can wash it depends on the quilt. You say your grandmother made it, but that just means it could be anywhere from a year old to a hundred years old. Is your grandmother still around? Ask her if it's washable. Is the fabric sort of puckery? That's a good indication that it's been washed before. If it's completely smooth, then it probably hasn't been washed.
If the quilt has any weak spots in the fabric, any fraying, any holes, loose patches - don't wash it. If it looks pretty solid, test the fabrics for bleeding. Use plain water to dampen a clean white cloth, and gently rub each fabric. If dye comes off on the cloth, you shouldn't wash it. Be sure to test EVERY fabric, not just every color. Two different red fabrics could react in two different ways.
If you've decided that the quilt is sturdy and colorfast, you will probably be safe to hand wash it. I'm making no guarantees, however. Handwashing can still put a lot of stress on the quilt, so be careful. Do it in your bathtub, not you washing machine. Make sure the tub is clean, but doesn't have any residue from the cleaning products. Spread a plain white sheet in the tub, letting it hang over the sides. Next, fill the tub with a couple of inches of clean water. Add the cleanser of your choice (try Orvus, Fells Naphtha, Ivory Soap Flakes, or a combination of Dove Liquid Dish Soap and Clorox II Powder) and swish it around to dissolve. Place the quilt in the water, and gently agitate it by hand. Have a folded towel or piece of foam under your knees - you need to spend some time at this. When you think you've got it clean, drain the water and add clean water to rinse. Agitate the quilt some more to get the soap out, drain, and rinse again. Repeat until you don't have any sign of soap left in the water. If you leave any soap in the quilt, it will attract dirt.
Now comes the hard part. If you just grab the quilt and haul it out of the tub, the weight of it could cause it to tear. Press out as much water as you can while it's still in the tub, then take the sheet from the far side, hold down the sheet on the near side, and pull. As the sheet comes toward you, the quilt will roll up and out of the tub. If you have two people, you can even just lift it straight out of the tub using the sheet. Spread the quilt out someplace protected. On the grass, if you have NOT mowed in the last day or two, on the sheet on the grass if you're a little more cautious. Spread another sheet over it to prevent birds from leaving a present on your quilt. Be sure to fasten it down so the wind doesn't take it away. If you don't have space outside, you can spread it on top of towels inside. Place a couple of fans to circulate the air - don't point them straight at the quilt.
Check out the link below for more details about cleaning antique quilts.
If the label says it is ok then it should be ok. If not then I would not put it in the dryer.
I've only washed and dried my quilt once, and I didn't have a problem. It even loosened it up and made it softer! If you're hesitant, take it to a dry cleaner, just to be safe. Washing it should be okay, but if you don't want to take it to a dry cleaner, lay it out flat somewhere (shower curtain rod) and let it air dry.
No! Do not machine wash a vintage quilt. Hand wash and lay flat to dry or get it dry cleaned. The agitation of the washing machine, as well as it's own wet weight will pull the stitching out. If it is not badly soiled, a lot of the time just throwing it in the dryer on air dry or airing it outside on a clothesline will do wonders for freshening it up.
If the quilt is handmade, I would use the delicate cycle and let it soak for a bit. When drying, use either a low dryer heat or hang it on the clothesline to dry. If the quilt is an antique, that is another question.
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