To WASH or NOT to Wash!        

THE DANGERS OF WASHING A QUILT
TO WASH OR NOT TO WASH, THAT IS THE QUESTION!

No, this section wasn't written by the Bard.

This is such an important section that this has to be discussed. Washing any quilt by any means can be the most disastrous event in a quilts life!

But before we talk about washing a quilt, please remember that before you attempt to wash a quilt (or any other activity with a quilt) ALWAYS REMOVE ANY JEWELRY that might be dangling and get caught on either a ring or a brooch, necklace (believe me, it has happened!).

Now that you have your jewelry removed for the sake of the quilts safety, you can start to examine the quilt to see if it actually merits the dangers of washing. A Quilt SHOULD NEVER be washed if any of the following are on the quilt:

* If it is a SIGNATURE QUILT (also called a FRIENDSHIP QUILT)...washing has been known to literally wash out the names and signatures!

* If a color on the quilt "spreads" on to another piece of fabric (or if the color on the fabric has changed colors).

* Never wash a quilt if the fabrics have deteriorated in any amount. This can cause the fabric of the entire quilt to come apart and become totally worthless.

* Never wash a quilt if contains glazed or silk fabrics. Glazed fabrics are fabrics that were glazed ( some examples are the glazed chintz fabrics, etc.). Silk fabrics have been known not to hold up real well after years of abuse and neglect. Quite often the fabric looks good, but they are in effect falling apart. The mere gentle washing can cause the silk to literally fall right off a quilt!

* Another reason never to wash that heirloom is if the original quilter used wool in the quilt. Woolen yarns don't always hold up well over the years. They often have the tendency to either run, or worse yet, cause the wool to totally deteriorate.

* Never wash a quilt if it has never been washed! The problem with this is how does one know if a quilt has been washed either once or repeatedly? There are certain clues to look at! Have you ever seen a quilt that was somewhat out of shape, or that looked all puckery? Usually the washing of the quilt (depending on how is was dried) causes the sewing thread to shrink. This in turn makes the quilt "pucker up". It can look as it has bubble wrap under the original fabric. This reduces the value of the quilt by as much as 2/3's (depending on the quilts value).

If you are still determined to wash your quilt after we have mentioned some of the horrors associated with washing, lets talk about HOW to wash a quilt. Before you decide to fire up your washing machine and add your commercial washing detergent STOP! First, find a piece of fiberglass screen (the type in screen doors) place that OVER the quilt (to protect your quilt from the powerful forces of your vacuum) take your vacuum cleaner and if you have an attachment that allows you to vacuum out your sofa or chairs, place it on the wand and slowly vacuum over the screen. This will remove many layers of dirt from the quilt. This alone has been known to restore a quilt to its original color.

Before you start to load your quilt into your washer, please take a very small section of fabric and make a test wash. This will determine if the fabric has any dyes, or if the fabric is able to be washed with destroying the entire quilt.

Before you throw your quilt into your home washing machine, DO NOT commercial prepared detergents. This can cause the fabric to be damaged after the actual washing. What happens is that the detergents can cause further damage by causing the fabric and batting to breakdown over the years. NEVER use any form of bleach. This will do the same as the detergents.

Use a very gentle soap like Orvus Soap. Orvus Soap contains so phosphates or chemicals that can damage your quilt. You can find Orvus Soap at your local quilt shop.

DO NOT use your washing machine. The agitation of the water may possibly damage your quilt beyond repair. Use your bath tub instead. Fill your bath tub with lukewarm water. Gently lower your quilt in the water. Use your hands for a gentle agitation of the water. Soak for 20-30 minutes, then drain water. Fill and rinse 12-15 times, draining between.

Allow the quilt to remain in your bathtub to slowly dry. After this has been done, you may use sponges to remove excess water from quilt. Place the sponges on the quilt and gently but firmly press out the water. Allow the sponge to absorb the excess water, then wring the sponge into a bucket and discard the water.

Once you have used the sponge method, use plain white cotton towels to roll the quilt in. Do this as many times to remove water. Roll quilt onto a drying table to dry. Do not put in the sun to dry. This will damage your quilt.

Another method to dry your quilt is to use the driveway: The driveway should have a gentle slope. Make a frame 4 ft. by 6 ft. On the cement there needs to be some padding (which you can obtain from a moving company). Lay that and put frame down. Make a sandwich--the padding, plastic (tarp), the quilt. Apply water, using the hose (obtain a deionizer and charcoal filter--at any hardware store) and use a paint roller to gently agitate water. Remove the end of the frame and drain water then rinse. Dry by air (but out of as much sunlight as possible) using a white cotton sheet, one on the grass and one over the quilt. Allow the quilt to dry. Then carefully wrap and store your quilt.

This damage is a direct result of washing a quilt! This damage can NEVER be repaired.