You spend all that time working on a quilt, pouring your love, sweat and tears into it. When you are done, you have a labor of love and often something smothered in fur, lint, threads, and/or dust. So how do you clean your baby, especially for gifting or show? The usual answer is wash it. A very good answer most of the time. But what happens if you can’t or don’t want to wash it? Do you have to live with, give away or show a dusty or dirty quilt? Absolutely not.

First, let’s talk about why you may not want to wash your quilt. The fabric is not easily washable, like silk. The colors may bleed, which is a factor when you didn’t or don’t know if the fabric was pre-washed. The quilt has embellishments, which may not be easily washed. Embellishments such as ribbons, lace, embroidery, or beading may not respond well to washing. Lace and ribbons may warp. Ribbons and embroidery may bleed. Beads and other bobbles may loosen or break. Any of these reasons may lead one to fear washing, and rightly so.

With your fear of washing justified, how do you safely remove fur, lint, threads, and dust?

  • Spot clean with a damp cloth. This works well to remove dog slobber and other icky things. I have found a microfiber cloth works well because it doesn’t add lint. Make sure the cloth won’t bleed onto it. Paper towels are not a good idea as they will leave more lint.
  • Use they dryer on an air cycle to “fluff” the fur, lint, threads, and dust away. Some recommend using dryer balls to help with the fluffing. Believe it or not, they don’t mash it down.
  • Vacuum the quilt using an upholstery attachment. The suction will be strong enough to remove fur, lint, threads, and dust without getting stuck in the wand.
  • Try a lint roller. Or for a less expensive option, make a loop of tape with a moderate tack. Duct tape is too strong. Cellophane tape, like scotch tape, may be too narrow. A cheap packing tape works well!
  • Hang outside to let Mother Nature do the work for you! Of course, that method comes with a warning label….. beware of birds, they have great aim.
Snowflake Whimsy

I just finished Snowflake Whimsy so needed to complete that last step of cleaning. It had plenty of lint from the wool batting and fur from the pets. It was pre-washed so bleeding was not a concern. However, all of the beading made it impossible to put in the washer or dryer. The agitation could break or loosen the beads, not to mention damage the lining of the machines. Using the upholstery attachment worked very well for the back of the quilt. A damp microfiber cloth helped with Fergus’s slobber… He is a Newfoundland dog, so just can’t help himself. The front was the challenge. Several, ok about a dozen or so, loops of packing tape removed all of the lint, fur and stray threads. It also verified the security of the beads (two of which needed to be resewn). Now, it is ready for a photo shoot!

What methods have you used to successfully clean your quilt? Please share with a comment.

Happy Quilting!