When chilly nights come calling in Fort Myers, we will reach for our favorite quilts to cover us. Before then is a good time to get them ready. Spot cleaning as needed is enough for quilts that are displayed as art or that are a fragile vintage, but everyday quilts need washing about once a year. Airing quilts in full sun, lying flat on the grass or a drying rack is enough to keep them fresh and sanitized between washings, but if you have children or pets, the quilts will need to be washed more often. And if you plan on making your own quilts, you may be wondering whether or not to pre-wash the fabrics. Here is what experienced quilters and the Amish say about cleaning your quilts.
Two Musts Before Washing Quilts
First, inspect your quilts for loose seams and embellishments that need repairs before washing or dry cleaning. Second, test for colorfastness! Wet a piece of white cotton with very hot water, and rub it on an inconspicuous area of the fabric. If color bleeds onto the white cotton, then that quilt cannot be washed safely without dye bleeding, not even in cold water. Have it dry-cleaned if spot cleaning or airing it is insufficient.
Machine Washing Everyday Quilts
If the quilt top is made from a single piece of fabric, then chances are good it is machine washable. Pieced quilts may come apart if you use the regular cycle or a stronger one. Parts of it can float around in a top loading washer without getting wet in some spots, and home washing machines are not the best to balance the heavy weight of a wet quilt. Use gentle detergent in cold water, and set on gentle cycle in one of our front-loading washing machines to tumble your quilts clean.
Wet quilts are very heavy. When you transfer them to dry, support the weight to avoid threads popping. Try not to wash or dry anything with your quilts to keep them from getting trapped when they twist into a ball. Air dry on a flat rack when possible.
If You Plan on Making Quilts
Unwashed fabric has a crisp feel that is easier to work with and stays smooth when completed. The downside is that if it gets washed after it is completed, there is likely to be dye bleeding that can stain the quilt. Shrinkage causes wrinkling that you cannot iron out. So, quilts intended to get lots of use are better off made with pre-washed fabric. Separate dark and light colors. Use cool water on gentle cycle. Spray starches and ironing before cutting helps rejuvenate the crisp texture.
All quilters will urge you to, as the Amish say, “remember and respect the hours of work that went into the making of your quilt.” Taking proper care of your quilts at Laundromart can help keep them bright, comforting and looking like new for generations.
216 Pondella Road
N. Ft. Myers, FL 33903