Caring For Your Quilts
Is the quilt washable? Though today’s quilt fabrics resist bleeding and shrinking, when a quilt that contains unknown fabrics is washed, there’s a risk that dye from one fabric may run onto the other fabrics. Test for colorfastness by rubbing the fabrics with a white cloth. If the test cloth remains white, test again by rubbing with a white cloth dampened with a diluted washing agent. If the cloth remains white, proceed with washing. If the test cloth shows color, you can be sure that the colors in the fabrics will run. Most color bleeding is permanent. You can relegate the quilt to the show category and treat it like an heirloom quilt or wash it anyway. If you choose to wash a quilt with nonpermanent dyes, the look of the quilt will change, perhaps with each washing.
Laundry detergents are harsh on cotton quilts; they accelerate wear and fading of fabrics. Use them only to wash everyday quilts such as a child’s "blankie" that’s dragged on the floor or a grass-stained picnic quilt. Washing agents like Orvus Paste (also known as Orvus Quilt Soap) or Mountain Mist Ensure, available in quilt and sewing stores, are gentler on fibers and can be used when washing by hand or by machine.