QUILT CARE


Light, cleaning, use, and improper storage hasten the deterioration of quilts.

  • Cleaning Open or Close

    Vaccuuming is the only safe procedure for safely cleaning many quilts.  It's the best technique for silk and wool quilts as well as being very useful in removing surface dust from cotton quilts  Use a small hand-held upholstery attachment without a brush (or if it has a brush, be sure that it's a soft brush).  Place bridal netting over the attachment or use a fiberglass screen over the area to be vaccuumed.  Cover the screen edges if they are rough to the touch.  Vaccuum gently being careful that the quilt is not being sucked into the nozzle.  Clean both sides of the quilt this way.  You'll be surprised at the difference this method of cleaning makes with your quilts, if you do this occasionally.

    Dry cleaning is a questionable cleaning method for most quilts.  Most quilt conservators feel that the chemicals used in this method break down the fibers over time and cause deterioration of the quilt.   If you feel you must, for some reason, have your quilt dry cleaned, call the textile curator of a museum near you and get a recommendation from her (him).  As a last resort, use a dry cleaner who specializes in cleaning bridal gowns.  Dry cleaning is NOT recommended.

    Wet cleaning (hand washing) can be done at home.  It is important that information on this procedure is read and understood before attempting to wash your quilt.  Resource information is given at the end of this article.  Conservators recommend that a special soap such as Orvus be used to wash the quilt, and NOT a detergent, as detergent can cause the dyes to run and detergents do not totally rinse out of quilts.  If you decide that a washing is necessary, be sure that you know the procedure and set aside a block of time in which to do this, and that you choose a dry day.

    Remember: any time that a quilt is cleaned by washing or dry cleaning, the quilt is put under stress and the life of that quilt is shortened to some degree.

  • Light Open or Close

    Light is very hard on textiles.  If you display a quilt, be sure that it is not in a location where the sun or strong light shines on it.  Florescent lighting tends to cause fading of textiles, so that type of lighting is not recommended.  Low levels of indirect incandescent lighting for limited amounts of time do the least harm.

  • Storage Open or Close

    Do NOT store your quilt in a plastic bag, as it will mildew or rust stain over time.  Store it in a pillowcase, or wrapped in a sheet or other prewashed fabric, in a dark dry place.  Be sure that the fabric has been washed so that the chemicals in the sizing have been removed.  Do NOT store your quilt directly on a wood surface, as the wood acids can deteriorate the quilt.

  • Recommended Reading Open or Close

    Protecting Your Quilts: A Guide for Quilt Owners, American Quilter's Society, P. O. Box 3290, Paducah, KY  42002.

    Check at your quilt shop or library for any other reading on this subject.

Information on this page is copyright © 1996 Caryl Schuetz.  All rights reserved.

 

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The Quilt Showcase features quilts Caryl has made as examples for some of the classes she teaches or has taught in the past.