I recently asked some friends for suggestions for topics to cover on my blog. One friend asked for some help in caring for quilts, like how to wash them, is it bad to wash them too often, and will the colors run onto each other? All good questions.
I have to admit that I have never been one to give too much thought about "proper quilt care". I make quilts with the intention that they be used, loved and enjoyed by the recipient and therefore, have never been worried about washing a quilt too much. It only stands to reason that the more frequently a quilt gets washed, the more the wear and tear on the fabric, seams and quilting. However, in my research I discovered that laundering the quilt should be a last resort... and to NEVER use a top-load machine. Ooops, my bad! I will admit that we have only a top-loading machine, but rarely do I launder my larger (bed-sized) quilts in there. Our lap-sized quilts, baby quilts and table runners do go in the washing machine.
The article I read suggested that spot cleaning be used on stains that need to be removed, but to "test" a spot with a wet cotton swab for color fastness. If there are no stains that need to be addressed they recommend vacuuming the quilt with a hand attachment.
Because I have quilts on just about every couch or chair in our house, our cat, Ty, has the privilege and honor of using them every day. Because of this, our quilts get laundered far more often than the average bed quilt. But he uses those too.
I don't want to mislead you and let you think that I launder them on a weekly basis, but certainly, as needed. And after researching this a little more closely, I will probably vacuum them first, putting off the need to launder as frequently. Maybe they will last a little longer. ;) But on the other hand... I can always make more! =D
As for the question about colors running, that is a whole conversation that has two sides and starts with the "quilter's" personal preference... Do you pre-wash the fabric before cutting, or not? I do not. Today's fabrics are usually "color-fast" and the manufacturing of fabric and the use of dyes are much less of a problem now days. I do not pre-wash fabric... however, the first time I launder (gasp!) a quilt I use one of the wonderful little creations found in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores called "Shout color-catcher".
While, I may not follow all the rules about caring for my personal quilts I would never-ever treat an antique quilt with such reckless abandonment. I treat antique quilts with great respect, love and tender care.
If you want a little more information on caring for and storing your quilts, you can read the article that I found... http://www.connectingthreads.com/Patterns/Quilt_Care_Information_Sheet__D991211.HTML