Friday, September 18, 2009

Quilt Care and Labels

Somewhere along my quilting journey I became interested in quilt care. If we want to preserve our quilts and prolong their lives, there are simple steps everyone can take. I've boiled best practices down to a manageable quilt label size and sew the following label to every bed-use quilt. As always, if you have something to add or suggest, please do! There is more to quilt care than these bare-bones instructions can cover and it's always good to know more.

Quilt Care

To air a quilt, lay it outside on the grass between two white sheets for a few hours. Don’t drape it over a fence or hang it from a line.

If dusty, put the quilt on the dryer’s gentle cycle with no heat for two or three minutes. No fabric softener. Dust is bad for fibers, so this is OK to do occasionally.

Ignore little stains; the treatment is usually worse for the quilt. Treat obvious stains with an oxygen-based spray cleaner. Spot treat and rinse if possible.

Machine wash the entire quilt only when airing, fluffing and spot treating are not enough. Wash it alone. Use cold water and the delicate cycle, a very small amount of unscented gentle detergent, and no fabric softener. Use an extra rinse only if very soiled. Choose the most gentle spin cycle.

The quilt is weakest and most subject to damage when wet, so remove it from the washer carefully; do not let it hang or pull on it. The wet quilt will be heavy, so use a carrying basket or have help. Dry it flat between two white sheets. Pat it flat; don’t pull or stretch. Fans speed the drying process.

When not in use, storing the quilt flat on a bed is best, face down to prevent even indirect light from fading the fabric. Close curtains, blinds or shades as much as practical when the quilt is in use.

If the quilt is stored folded, use acid-free paper to stuff the folds and keep the quilt in an acid-free box. Folding on the bias is best; it won’t be nice and neat but it’s better for the quilt. Re-fold differently every three months to prevent creasing. Replace acid-free materials after five years.

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