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How to Wash a Quilt the Right Way

Quilts can be great alternatives to comforters: they’re heavy enough to provide all-night warmth, thin enough to store neatly and colorful enough to add a splash of style. With all the pros of owning a quilt comes responsibility. Learn the proper way to care for, wash and clean a quilt.

How to Wash a Quilt

If you own a quilt and have yet to wash it, you’ve come to the right place. Researching beforehand exactly the right way to wash a quilt can go a long way in preserving the quilt’s quality. If your quilt is handmade, antique or just generally delicate (and you are not 100% positive it should be machine-washed), we recommend cleaning it by hand (see the tips in the last section of this article). If your quilt’s tag recommends machine-washing, follow these tips:

  • Wash the quilt by itself, even if it’s a Twin-size or small quilt. For oversize quilts, make sure your washer has enough room (and that the quilt isn’t packed in).
  • Use the gentle cycle. Use the gentle cycle to wash your quilt. Monitor the rinse cycle – repeat if needed to make sure any and all residue is completely off before throwing it in the dryer.
  • Do not use bleach. Inspect the ingredients of your detergent or laundry treatment for bleach, as bleach is a harsh agent and will damage colors. For a gentler cycle, we recommend a “clean” laundry detergent free of fragrance and brighteners.
  • Dry on low heat to protect the fabric and preserve the quilt’s shape.

How to Clean Quilts

Sometimes, a quilt can be “dirty” without needing to be thrown into the washer. This is the case if there are just a couple small stains (and the rest of the quilt is clean), or if the quilt is still fresh but just needs a small pick-me-up. To spot clean a quilt:

  • Use a dab of vinegar. A simple swipe up and down is often enough to get the quilt looking fresh and clean once more.
  • Use a lint roller. For small stains, dab a corner of a washcloth into solution of equal parts water and distilled white vinegar, and gently dab the stain (without rubbing it in). Vinegar is a powerful all-natural agent known for being able to lift common stains, but, as with any home remedy, it’s always a good idea to test a small portion to make sure it won’t damage the particular fabric on your quilt.
  • If your quilt is made of a smooth material that won’t snag easily, you could also try vacuuming. Use a handheld vacuum or a vacuum with an attached brush to lift up stubborn particles and dust.

How to Freshen Up a Quilt

In between washes, keep a quilt feeling and looking fresh with a DIY fabric refresher. In a spray bottle, combine equal parts distilled water and rubbing alcohol; add a few drops of a high-grade essential oil or essential oil blend. (Lemon, lavender and tea tree are often associated with fresh-smelling linens!) Mist lightly once every few months or whenever your quilt needs a refresher. (You can use this spray for other types of linens, too – think pillow shams, bed sheets, etc.) When using a DIY freshener, just remember less is more. Mist lightly, instead of spraying; and since essential oil is concentrated, one to two drops is usually always more than enough. (Note: If you prefer to sleep with a quilt over you, make sure to keep a bed sheet under the quilt; between washes, this will help to keep the quilt clean and as fresh as possible.)

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.