Buy a piece of fiberglass screening at a hardware store. I use a piece the width of my shoulders and about 12″ deep. Sew bias tape around the edges (easier if you trim them with rounded corners) to prevent the screen from catching in the stitches of your quilt.
Place the quilt flat on its face on a large table. Place the screen on top, and using a new upholstery brush, vacuum through the screen using an up and down motion. This is a lot easier with two people, one to hold the screen and one to vacuum. Trade jobs every 20 minutes. When you have finished that section, move the screen and repeat until you have vacuumed the whole back.
Then turn the quilt over and repeat, vacuuming through the front of the quilt. The goal is to pull most of the dirt out through the back rather than the front.
To thoroughly vacuum a quilt you will spend several hours. I recommend the quilt’s owner buy lunch for the helper.
Vacuuming will remove 50% to 75% of the dirt in a quilt and is very safe for the quilt.
We always advise vacuuming a quilt before wet cleaning to make the washing job much easier.
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