Custom Quilt Care Made Easy

Line Dry Quilt

So much goes into the discussion on how to MAKE quilts that folks tend to ignore what to do after creation. How do you care for a custom quilt?

How often should you wash your custom quilt?

Is it dirty? Most quilt owners wash their quilts as little as possible. In most cases, spot cleaning is enough.  If your goal is to keep your quilt for as long as possible but still use it daily, then washing it less is key.

Custom Quilt Care - Hot or Cold?

COLD COLD COLD! Most quilts consist of cotton fabrics and threads. It is common knowledge that cotton shrinks in hot water. The second-worst thing in the world is for a quilt to shrink beyond a certain point. It is important to use cold water if you put your quilt in a machine.
 
This is not to say that the normal softening and scrunching that occurs after the first wash is bad. Not at all! Excessive shrinkage can ruin a quilt.
Also, only use delicate cycles when using a washing machine. Whenever you wash a quilt, use the most gentle soap you can. Harsh soaps can damage a delicate quilt. Woolite is a good choice.
 
NEVER EVER use bleach!
 
It is a good habit to spot wash or hand wash your quilts if you want them to last a long time.

Color Catchers

Above I mentioned the second-worst thing that can happen to your quilt as shrinking.
 
The number one worst thing that most folks fear is color bleeding. I ALWAYS use color catchers when I wash a quilt for the first time. If there is no bleeding, I may not use them the next time. Even if I have pre-washed the fabric, I use a color catcher for the first wash. Color catchers look like dryer sheets, and can be found at your local store. It is not uncommon to throw a handful (5 or so) in with a first wash. I would rather be safe than sorry!
Quilt Care

Dryer or Line?

Line Dry Quilt

Do I use a dryer with my quilts? Some of them, yes! I only dry on delicate and never with heat. Remember, heat shrinks cotton. Many times, I will line dry when I have time and the weather is good, but remember, I only wash a few quilts on a regular basis. If you want to preserve a quilt as long as possible, handle it less, this means no tumbling in a dryer.

Speciality Fabrics?

Not all quilts are 100% cotton. Quilts can also contain: 
  • Non-cotton fabrics
  • Embelishments
  • Embroidery
  • Photo reproductions
  • Lace
  • Other elements
 
Each of the above items create challenges for use and care and should be recognized.

Storage

Storage is a challenge for quilts. If you have ever folded a quilt and put it away to use 6 months later, you may have seen a crease that won’t come out.
 
There are ways to avoid this. One way is to use a quilt rack. A quilt rack allows you to reposition them at intervals.
 
Quilt Rack
Pool Noodle Quilt

Another way to store a quilt – believe it or not – is to roll it on a large pool noodle! This is how I store all my show quilts to avoid creases. This way of storage does present issues with where to put them, but is well worth it.

 

One solution is to pile them like cord wood under a bed, or on a shelf in a closet.

Finally, storing quilts in a cabinet can result in damage from outside influences. Rodents and insects love quilts for food and home construction. By using bait or other mitigation processes and rotating your quilts, you can avoid these types of damages.
 
I have two giant suitcases that I use to store quilts I use in presentations. While these are safe from critters, they do crease easily.  For this reason, I routinely take them out, hang them on a line or throw them over a couch – rotate them for use. This serves two purposes, they remain crease free and I get to enjoy them.
 
Custom quilt care is not difficult, but with a little knowledge your quilt can last a very long time.