The Quilt Scout
by Mary Fons
How To Wash A Quilt
Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild. The guild, 170 members strong, is both robust and dynamic. It is made up of quilters, new and advanced, youngish and oldish, modern and mostly modern.
But until this sheriff came to town and shared this special technique, no one really knew how to wash a quilt.
Oh, the washing of a quilt — a terrifying prospect!
No towel in sight. (They must be doing the linen.)
If you’re like me (before I learned this technique from my mother, of course) you have pulled a heavy, wet quilt from the washing machine to find that all your white half-square triangles are suddenly the most hideous shade of pale pink known to man, thanks to the red patches made from fabric you bought at top dollar, and trusted! You even did that color run
In the washing machine, a quilt’s threads may, and frequently do, pull and snap. Fabric can pucker and twist in all sorts of places—usually smack in the middle of the thing where you know everyone is going to look. Even the pre-washers among us are not safe from occasional washing machine trauma. Woe to the quilter who dares to attempt some spring cleaning.
Thank goodness I’m about to share with you what I shared with the KCMQ just a few days ago. You may want to print this out and put it in the laundry room.
It says “Marianne’s Laundry” but my mother had nothing to do with it! Photo: Flickr Commons
The proper washing of a quilt requires an old bath or beach towel. Yes, an old towel is all that stands between you and possible heartbreak when you open the washer to take out your freshly laundered masterpiece.
Here’s how it works.
1. Procure some gentle detergent, like a Dreft or Orvus Paste.
2. If you don’t have a front-loading washing machine, get to a laundromat that has one. The gentle agitation achieved by a front-loader washer is preferable to the spindle in a top-loader washing machine when washing a quilt. (Since I don’t have a front-loader, we’re going with the laundromat option.)
3. Grab an old beach towel or a bath towel. Get your quarters. Take the quilt.
4. Go to the laundromat. Yes, you can stop at Starbucks, but let’s not dawdle.
5. Put in the detergent. Load your quilt.
6. Fold the old towel several times so that it’s nice and thick. Place it on the ground in front of the washing machine.
7. Put in your quarters. Close the lid. Press “start” on the delicate cycle.
8. Get down on your knees on that towel and pray.
It’s all fun and games until someone decides to go on a cleaning rampage.
Now, I can’t guarantee there will be no problems — the Lord works in mysterious ways — but I can say that I have only had one quilt vs. washing machine disaster in my life and it happened before I learned this method.
I also recommend dye magnets.