We are aware of how critical it is to maintain the same level of care for the quilts of today as we did for the artwork and history of yesteryear.
The preservation of quilts is not restricted to the care of antique or vintage quilts. It goes without saying that it is essential to give older quilts, which may be fragile or delicate, the appropriate level of care. However, it is essential to treat new quilts with care and ensure that they will be treated appropriately from this point forward in order to extend their lifespans.
How Do You Clean An Old Quilt?
There are typically two methods that can be used to clean a quilt, but vacuuming is the method that is considered to be the safest and most widely recommended.
Before beginning to vacuum, place your quilt on a spacious and clean work area. If the quilt is very fragile, you should cover it with a screen made of fiberglass. After that, move a handheld vacuum with a low suction and a small brush attachment over the quilt in a gentle circular motion.
It is possible to wash a quilt, but you must exercise extreme caution if you choose to do so. DO NOT WASH YOUR QUILT if it has any of the following characteristics: inked signatures, a dye that appears unstable, fabrics that are seriously deteriorated, the use of glazed or silk fabrics, the use of woolen yarns with questionable dyes, or if it has never been washed before. Keep in mind that when they are wet, the fibers in textiles become much more fragile.
If, on the other hand, you have come to the conclusion that washing your quilt might be a good idea, you should practice on a small section of it first to ensure that the dyes are fast and won’t run during the washing process. After you have determined that it is okay to wash your quilt, the following recommendations should be kept in mind:
- Use a very mild detergent like Orvus in a solution of 1/2 ounce of detergent to 1 gallon of distilled, filtered or softened water.
- Use a container large enough to accommodate the entire quilt at one time (some people recommend using the bathtub).
- Do not agitate the quilt in the water.
- Rinse by pressing down on the quilt with the palm of your hand oSerious Quilt Care is not responsible for any damage to textiles or quilts. We are offering professional advice and suggestions, but every quilt is different and the owner must evaluate the fabrics, condition, etc…as well as test any products on a small area. If you are unsure, find a professional (NOT a dry cleaner) to evaluate your quilt and offer personalized advice. It’s always better not to take any action at all, than to possibly cause damage to a quilt or textile.r with a cellulose sponge.
- Remove excess water by pressing gently with clean white toweling or mattress padding.
- Lift quilt with a towel sling or with both arms so that the weight is evenly distributed. DO NOT lift by one edge or corner.
- Lay flat to dry on a clean non-porous surface.
- NOTE: Historic textiles should NEVER BE PRESSED with a hot iron.
- Dry cleaning is NOT RECOMMENDED because the dry cleaning method involves rough agitation of the quilt inside the dry cleaning machine and the dry cleaning solvents may harm some fabrics.
Is there any other method for cleaning an old quilt besides using water or a vacuum, or are those the only two options? Is there a powder or dry shampoo that I could use instead of the liquid? The quilt is likely from the 1940s or the 1950s, and both the fabric and the thread are becoming more worn. It certainly could benefit from some kind of cleaning. It has a shabby appearance and is easily broken.
The fact that you are asking such a question reveals that there is no silver bullet answer! Have you ever wished that you had a magic wand that could restore a quilt to how it looked when it was first made?
When caring for a quilt, you have to determine your long term goals for this quilt. The best way to care for your quilt will depend on whether or not you intend to use it and enjoy it, as opposed to whether or not you intend to preserve it or its value. Your next steps will be determined by both the response to this question and the general circumstance surrounding it.
Consider what it is that you hope to achieve with this quilt. It’s possible that the quilt can be washed and put to good use. It may be that its fragile state or historical/sentimental value is too great to risk cleaning it. You could also consider whether it would be financially beneficial for you to locate a quilt restorer who is appropriately qualified to return it to its initial state. There is no single response that is appropriate for everyone in every situation.
On a day when the sun is shining, you could try another method in which you place the quilt on top of a white cotton sheet on the grass and then place another white sheet on top of that. This helps with the smell as well as the overall mustiness. If passing down your quilt to future generations as a treasured heirloom is important to you, it is strongly recommended that you do not alter its appearance in any way. Take pleasure in it in the state that it is currently in. It could be preserved for use by succeeding generations if the appropriate storage methods were used. The most effective course of action would be to simply lie it down on a guest bed and keep it out of the direct sunlight. If you have to fold it or put it away, make sure to fold it in different places every few months and store it in a pillowcase made of cotton that is 100 percent cotton.
The best course of action to take, provided that your quilt is in a reasonable amount of good condition, is to hand wash it in a bathtub using the products that we have recommended. The best course of action is to vacuum the quilt and then properly store it. This should be done if the quilt is fragile in any way. Take pleasure in your older quilt in its current state. Instead of lamenting its sorry state, concentrate on the positive aspects and memories associated with it. And keep that quilt in mind as you work with the newer quilts that are available today! Instill in your children an appreciation for quilts and the knowledge necessary to keep the one you’ve made for them in pristine condition for years to come.
We cannot be held liable for any harm that may be caused to quilts or textiles. We are providing professional advice and suggestions, but each quilt is unique, and the owner is responsible for assessing the fabrics, condition, and other factors, as well as testing any products on a small area first. Find a professional who is NOT a dry cleaner to examine your quilt and provide you with individualized recommendations if you are unsure what to do with it. It is always preferable to take no action at all rather than run the risk of causing damage to a quilt or textile in any way, shape, or form.
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