Quilt Care Do's and Don'ts

General Do's and Don'ts


  • DON'T store quilts in plastic bags. Plastic cuts off air circulation and gives off harmful by-products as it ages. Mold and mildew canresult from moisture trapped inside plastic covers. Static electricity generated by plasitc attracts dust.
  • DO use well-washed unprinted cotton or acid-free tissue to protect quilts.
  • DON'T store quilts in cardboard boxes; they acidify quickly and are detrimental to some dyes and fibers. Yucky bugs like silverfish are more likely to make a home in a cardboard box and can damage your quilts.
  • DON'T store quilts in direct contact with wood, especially unsealed wood like that in cedar chests. Wood, like cardboard, gies off detrimental acids, and quilts need several layers of protective material between wood and fabric.

Storage Areas

  • DO store quilts within the living area of your home where temperatures and humidity will vary less than in attics, basements and storage units.

    Since sunlight and fluorescent light contain rays harmful to quilts. DO choose an area that is dark most of the time but provides some air circulation. DO avoid placing on bed that sits in direct sunlight.

Rolled Storage

Quilts in good condition can be rolled around a large tube for storage. use a tube at least 3 inches in diameter, rolling the quilt loosely with no wrinkles, and with the top to the outside.

  • DO cover the tube with cotton fabric or acid-free tissue. The quilt should not touch bare pasteboard.
  • DO use a tube that is longer than the width of the quilt; rolling a folded quilt on a short tube cuased severe stress along the fold line.

Note: Pool Noodles, wrapped in muslin or an old sheet works great!

Rolled storage is not suggested for very old quilt or for quilt with thick stiff work.

Flat Storage

A major problem with folding a quilt for flat storage is that the folds create stress on the fabric, stitches and batting. DO pad the folds with crumpled acid-free paper or rolled clean cotton fabric.

  • DON'T fold quilts in the same place each time. Fold off-center, and the change the folds at least once a year. (that means getting them out every now and again and fold them differently than before)
  • DO fold quilts as few times as possible, using the largest shelves available.
  • DON'T stack heavy quilts as the weight of the top quilts will press folds in the bottom quilts.

Hanging a Quilt

  • DON'T hang a quilt by nails, staples or pins (aka office supplies). The weight of the quilt should be evenly distributed over the entire width of the edge.

Sew a casing along the top of the quilt, from side to side. baste a double layer of a fabric strip to the quilt. A rod will slide between the two layers so it will not touch the quilt fabric.

Read more about Hanging a Quilt

Cleaning Quilts

A variety of cleaning methods are possible, but not always safe for quilts. DO start with the least complicated, least damaging method.

A musty smell often can be diminished by airing quilts outdoors. DO air the quilt away from direct sunlight which can have a bleaching effect on colors (although a hour or so, shouldn't hurt it)

  • DO use couple of tablespoons of vinegar in the laundry helps eliminate all sorts of funky or musty odors.
  • DON'T beat or shake quilts to remove dust. This causes stress that can damage the fabric and stitchs as well as loosen batting.

Spot and Stain Removal

Stains that have been in contact with fabric for a long time will be more difficult if not impossible to remove. Attempts to remove some stains are unwise. Rust, blood, and other iron-bearing stains should not be given special treatment because the staining material has probably weakened the fibers.

In general, avoid dry cleaning antique quilts.

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copyright Betty Baker - Shadywood Quilts