washing a quilt

This quilt that has been used down in my husbands man cave surfaced recently since the daughter gave him a Patriots fleece throw for Christmas. The husband's man cave is in the basement so there isn't any natural light coming in so the shape the quilt was in did not come to light until it made it up to the main floor.   I was snuggled up under it recently in the living room  when I noticed how filthy it was. I am a firm believer in using quilts and this particular quilt  is one of my husband's family's 1" hexagonal flower quilts that a great aunt made.  My mother-in-law unearthed this quilt when she was cleaning out the youngest aunt's house after her passing.  It was not finished, it needed a binding.  Since this was the 70's and polyester was all the craze, she bought some premade poly binding and finished it off and since she was not overly fond of the colors, she gave it to us. I have always been amazed by these 1" hexagonal quilts...the amount of work they are and since this one was made back in probably the 1930's, every stitch sewn by hand with LOADS of hand quilting.  

Hand washing is the preferred method for cleaning handmade quilts.  Why?  The agitation of a washing machine puts undue stress on the stitching.  The best detergent to use is liquid that is free of perfumes and dyes,  A liquid detergent will disperse in the water and leave less residue on the fabric.  It would be safe to say that this quilt had never been washed.  I ran some luke warm water in the bath tub, added a cap full of detergent (not too much or I would be rinsing this quilt forever) and dipped it in.  I have washed several quilts using this method but have never seen the water this dirty (top left photo).  One does NOT scrub a quilt, or rub it together in any way when washing it.  One needs to be VERY gentle when dealing with a wet quilt.  I squeezed the water through the quilt and let it soak for 10 minutes and then drained the water while gently squishing the quilt.  If you have ever kneaded dough, it is similar to that.  All the soap needs to be rinsed out of the quilt, how ever many times it takes, until the water is clear,  Since this quilt was extra dirty, it took 4 rinses to get the water to run clear.  I added 1/2 c. of vinegar to the next to the last rinse.  It helps remove the soap and also brightens up the colors.  

Since my husband has stronger hands than mine, I had him do the final squeezing  to remove as much of the water as possible.  NEVER WRING OUT YOUR QUILT....this puts undue stress on the stitching,   He then squished  the quilt into a ball, picked it up and into the washer it went.  The best way to remove excess water is a washing machine's spin cycle.  The final photo is the quilt laid out on the basement floor with a sheet under it so that it can air dry FLAT.  I usually do all my quilt washing in the winter since the wood stove is on in the basement.  This quilt will be dry in no time, FLAT!   It is recommended that a bed quilt that is being used every day be hand washed ONCE a year.  Wall hangings that are not being handled do not need to be washed, just vacuumed.    The idea is to clean the quilt with as little stress as possible to the stitching and to the fabric.