Caring for your Quilt
T-Shirt Quilt Care
T-Shirt quilts are usually meant to be loved and used. We have included some general guidelines here in regards to caring for your T-Shirt quilt.
Generally, wash your quilt in a washing machine in cold water. It is suggested that you use Orvus soap or a liquid detergent that is mild. If the quilt is large, we recommend washing it in a washing machine that will accommodate larger sizes. Many laundry mats have larger machines for this purpose.
The T-Shirt material, particularly with the stabilizer on the back makes the quilt quite durable and it can be washed several times.
Backing and sashing fabric can have some bleeding of the color dye, so we use white vinegar to set the dye, and we also use a product that is easily found in the store called Shout Color Catcher. When we wash the fabric, we use two or three Shout Color Catcher sheets to absorb and trap any excess dye.
When you are washing your quilt, dark colored sashing or backing can still have some dye bleeding, so we recommend that you also use the Shout Color Catcher sheets when you wash your quilt.
Dry your T-Shirt quilt in a dryer like you would dry your regular clothes. We recommend that you do not use a high heat. Heat is never good for fabric.
Memory Quilt Care
Memory quilts and custom quilts are different in their care. They tend to not be as durable as a T-Shirt quilt. Care should be taken to keep them as nice looking as possible.
Before laundering any handmade quilt, check the fabric for colorfastness to prevent dyes from running. Testing is simple, wet a piece of white cloth with cold water and gently rub it over each different color or fabric in your quilt. If there is any color transfer to the white cloth, don’t wash your quilt at all. Washing will result in discoloration and fading.
Hand-washing is the preferred method for cleaning quilts. Even with a new quilt, machine washing can cause stitching to ravel. If you decide to machine wash, use cold water, a gentle detergent and the shortest, delicate cycle. Many quilt stores carry a product called Orvus soap that is a great for using when laundering your memory or custom quilt. I carry Orvus soap if you should need some.
If you have hard water or iron bacteria in your water source, you should use distilled water for washing your quilt. You don’t want to risk having minerals stain your fabric.
To hand-wash, fill a deep, laundry sink or bathtub with cold water. Be certain that the sink or tub is very clean and has no residue from cleaning agents that could cause damage to the quilt. Use a liquid detergent such as Orvus, that is gentle and free of dyes and perfumes. A liquid detergent will disperse in the water and leave less residue on the fabric. Add ½ cup vinegar to the water to both brighten colors and soften the quilt.
Place your quilt in the water, being certain that the entire quilt gets wet. Gently move your quilt around in the water. Allow the quilt to remain in the water for about 10 minutes. Next, drain the wash water and fill the tub again with fresh water. Repeat draining and refilling the tub until the water and quilt are soap free – clear water and no suds.
Drying the Quilt
Proper drying is key to keeping your quilt at its best. Wet quilts must be handled gently. Pulling can break seams and cause damage. The quilt will be heavy and should be dried flat. Empty the water from the tub and gently press the excess water out of the quilt. Do not wring it or lift it out while it is still full of water. Continue to press the water out until you can lift the custom quilt from the tub. Spread the custom quilt out flat on a sheet in an area to dry. Placing a fan in the room will help to speed the process. I always turn the custom quilt over to be sure to let the other side dry as well.
Never suspend a wet quilt from a clothesline. This causes too much stress on seams and cause tearing and can displace batting.
How Often Should A Quilt be Cleaned?
For any quilt, less washing is best. For a new quilt that you use on your bed everyday, washing once per year should be sufficient unless you have animals that sleep on the bed or your quilt. Between cleanings, the quilts should be aired outside or placed in the dryer on the air only – no heat – cycle to freshen.
How to Store A Quilt
If you plan to store your freshly laundered quilt, be certain it is completely dry. Allow an extra 24 to 48 hours for drying before storing. One of the best ways to store a quilt is on an extra bed. Keeping the custom quilt flat will eliminate creases and wear on folds. Simple cover the quilt with a clean sheet or bedspread.
If flat is not an option, store the quilt in a cotton or muslin bag or in an acid-free box. Do not store in the attic or basement where moisture and temperature levels will fluctuate. Before you fold the quilt, use acid-free tissue paper as padding to prevent sharp creases. You can also roll your quilt around an acid-free tube and slip it in a cotton bag.
If you are storing your quilt in a wooden box or dresser, wrap it in the acid-free tissue to avoid contact with the wood. Oils and acids in the wood can cause spotting and damage. Once a year, bring your quilt out of storage to air and to check for damage. Refolding will also prevent permanent creases and damage.
Proper care of your beautiful quilt will insure it will last for generations to come.