How To Care For Your New Quilt

Step by step how to care for a new quilt. Are you giving a quilt away? Easy instructions and a printable card on how to wash and care for a vintage and new quilt.

Giving away a quilt? You're so sweet and generous! Do your friends and family know how lucky they are to have you in their lives?? As you give your incredibly fortunate loved one the gift of a new quilt, make sure you give them the gift of knowledge as well… the knowledge of how to take care of it! Oh, and before I forget, at the bottom of this post is a fun printable 5" x 7" card for you to fill out and add to your next quilt gift.

There’s one thing that quilters know that non-quilters really don’t. Well, lots of things. The first is HOW MUCH FREAKING WORK you put into that thing. Like, the gestational period of a quilt is sometimes as long as and as arduous as the gestational period of a baby (I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.)

Those quilts are your babies, and like babies, they need to be loved and cherished and probably washed sometimes. And all those quilt care instructions? Those are the other things that non-quilters usually don’t know. So any time you give one of those precious bundles of joy away (let’s be clear, I’m talking about quilts again), give these instructions along with it. 

Step by step how to care for a new quilt. Are you giving a quilt away? Easy instructions and a printable card on how to wash and care for a vintage quilt and also how to wash a baby quilt.

The quilt above is the Sugar POP quilt pattern. Click here to find it in the shop!

How to Care for Your New Quilt

1. Use it, of course!

Sure, the quilt is gorgeous and you want it to last forever and ever. I get it. And it may be counter-intuitive, but the best way to keep that quilt fresh and bouncy is to actually use it! Keep it in the open air!

Trending patterns!

Don’t seal it up and store it away in a closet where it can’t breathe. Even though this quilt is absolutely heirloom material, show it off, and make sure to rub it against your cheek from time to time. Quilts love that.

Step by step how to care for a new quilt. Are you giving a quilt away? Easy instructions and a printable card on how to wash and care for a vintage and new quilt.

The quilt above is the Bohemian Garden quilt pattern. Click here to find it in the shop!

2. Wash it, but only sometimes.

Before fully submerging your quilt into water, do a quick check and ask yourself these two questions: 

  1. Can I spot clean it? If the quilt is mostly clean except for a bit of dirt the dog dragged in or a slight spill from a sippy cup, don't wash the whole thing, just spot clean those areas. (Read below on what to use.)
  2. Have I washed it this year? Unless you are using this quilt HARD, you shouldn't need to wash it more than once a year. Honestly, I don't even wash mine that often.If it smells, yes, time for a thorough washing. But if not? meh...wait.
Step by step how to care for a new quilt. Are you giving a quilt away? Easy instructions and a printable card on how to wash and care for a vintage quilt and also how to wash a baby quilt.

The quilt above is the Rocksteady quilt pattern. Click here to find it in the shop!

What soap should you use?

For many quilts, machine washing is okay. Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle and choose cold water. Also, pick up some mild detergent with NO bleach, like this fragrance free fine fabric soap.

I have also heard a lot of good buzz about Orvus. It's a detergent with a neutral pH balance and no added harmful chemicals or enzymes. Apparently some museums clean their textiles with this stuff. Since Orvus was originally designed for washing horses (I don't think we should let that scare us off. Show horses need to get really clean!) you only need about a tablespoon per load of laundry. 

Step by step how to care for a new quilt. Are you giving a quilt away? Easy instructions and a printable card on how to wash and care for a vintage quilt and also how to wash a baby quilt.

It looks like you can buy a large jar of Orvus or a more manageable jar of the same stuff that has been rebranded as "Quilt Soap." My recommendation is if you give a lot of quilts away, and want to include this soap, get the larger jar and divvy it out into some cute smaller containers. Remember, you only need a small amount per load! 

For more on washing, read How to Wash and Care for a Quilt.

https://suzyquilts.com/shop/sugar-pop-quilt-pattern-download/

From left to right the quilt patterns above are Stars Hollow, Modern Fans and Bohemian Garden.

Worried about dyes bleeding?

If you are worried about fabric bleeding, throw in some Shout Color Catchers or Retayne (or both). Shout Color Catchers catch dye that bleeds into the wash water and locks it up so it can’t be really mean and latch on to your lighter colors. Retayne helps to seal dye into the fabric.

For more specifics on preventing bleeds or if you are in the middle of a bleeding crisis, read this post on How to Fix Fabric Bleeds.

Get Up to 70% Off Clearance Items at shop.mybluprint.com 2/26-2/27/19, no coupon needed!
Step by step how to care for a new quilt. Are you giving a quilt away? Easy instructions and a printable card on how to wash and care for a vintage quilt and also how to wash a baby quilt.

Washing a vintage quilt?

For vintage, hand-quilted, or hand-appliquéd  quilts, hand washing is a smart move, and it’s not as scary as it sounds. Choose a clean tub or reaaaallllly big sink, and fill it with cold water and gentle detergent. There are detergents on the market branded specifically for vintage fabrics. I don't know if they really are different than basic gentle detergents or if it's just marketing. You'll have to do your own digging on that. The two I'm most interested in are All American Quilt Wash and Restoration Hypoallergenic Powder. I'll let you know if I try them out.

Completely submerge your quilt and agitate it gently for about 10 minutes. Drain the soapy water, and then refill. The second time, either fill with clean water and rinse or add ½ cup of distilled white vinegar. The vinegar clears the quilt of any detergent residue, and softens it up. Repeat rinsing until the suds are totally gone.

Step by step how to care for a new quilt. Are you giving a quilt away? Easy instructions and a printable card on how to wash and care for a vintage quilt and also how to wash a baby quilt.

3. Show it off!

New quilts (and old quilts, too!) deserve to be put on display! You can display quilts on the tops of beds (so practical!) or on cool quilt ladders (so trendy!), or you can hang quilts on your wall like the gorgeous works of art they are. 

Step by step how to care for a new quilt. Are you giving a quilt away? Easy instructions and a printable card on how to wash and care for a vintage quilt and also how to wash a baby quilt.

The quilt above is the Bayside quilt pattern. Click here to find it in the shop!

4. Know your stats!

Every quilt has its own unique story, and that story should be known and shared, too! Give a little “Quilt Profile” along with your quilt, so its new owner can know it’s personality a little bit better. Be sure to include any special fabrics you used, type of batting, how it was quilted, and any other special tidbits you want people to know.

This is a lot to remember, so you may not want to try to cover all this info in the ten seconds it takes to put the quilt in someone else’s hands (plus, they’ll be so excited about looking at their new quilt, they probably won’t be listening). So… here’s a handy card you can pass on to your lucky gift-ee!

The next time you give someone a quilt, include these quilt care instructions!

Do you have a fun quilt gifting story? I love a good quilt gifting story. I actually have one from a few weeks ago. My good friend was over visiting with her 5 year old daughter. I had recently finished making a felt mobile for my new nursery and this little girl was completely mesmerized by it. Before they left I got out a quilt and said, "Alicia, I think you're old enough now for a big girl quilt. Would you like this quilt?"

She looked me straight in the eyes and politely said, "No thank you, but I would like a mobile."

HAHAhahaha! Oh I love the honesty of children!

Step by step how to care for a new quilt. Are you giving a quilt away? Easy instructions and a printable card on how to wash and care for a vintage and new quilt.
Step by step how to care for a new quilt. Are you giving a quilt away? Easy instructions and a printable card on how to wash and care for a vintage and new quilt.

Start your FREE 7 Day Bluprint Trial! Dive into thousands of hours of expert taught videos.
Suzy Quilts

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

49 thoughts on “How To Care For Your New Quilt

  1. Marcy Singer says:

    Thanks for the advice and the print out. The quilt story that still bugs me is about the quilt I made for my three year old niece. Her room was lavender so I made a gorgeous (if I do say do myself) improvised log cabin variation with lavender, green, aqua, and some pink, all different prints, some with white. The colors really popped. It was taking me forever, so I asked if my niece’s room was still lavender. I was told yes, it’s fine, whatever you make will be beautiful. The bag was wide strips of the fabrics used in the quilt. Very simple and I was not crazy about it, but it looked okay. I gave them the quilt at Christmas, 2017. They thanked me. About two weeks later she sent me a photo of it on Juliette’s bed, and it was face down. I wanted to cry. Later I thought about saying there had been a batting recall (!😂) and I could take that quilt back and make a new one. But that required too much subterfuge so I made myself let it go. Maybe some day they will turn it over.

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Oh Marcy, I feel your pain. I really, really do. I have given multiple quilts to two nieces and a nephew and after gifting them have never seen them again. A while ago I asked one of my nieces if she ever uses her quilts and do you know what she said? “What quilts?” Ahhhhh! I’m sure her parents tucked them away in storage for “safe keeping.” C’est la vie!

  2. Angie Bassett says:

    This is perfect. Thank you! I checked your other posts, too. Do you know if teramagic works on canvas if I want to make my labels heavier? Has anyone tried that?
    PS Love your quilt gifting story!

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      It does! It works great on all cotton fabrics and probably pretty good on synthetics too. It’s still not a bad idea to test a small swatch before spraying it all over your fabric, though. Good luck!

  3. Gigi Voegeli says:

    Saw your story on IG, yet here you are, earlier than usual! What a girl! Thank you for this– so helpful. Can’t wait for Mod Mountains!!!!!!!

  4. Deb E says:

    I have always felt terrible when I hear later, after asking if they are enjoying their quilt, the comment “oh no, that is folded & on the closet shelf – its too NICE to use!” This is after I’d already said that quilts are meant to be USED, for the kids to build forts in the living room, to wrap up in and lounge around watching TV – please USE them every day, quilt textures improve with use! I am always careful to give color catchers, but I love your printout – I’ll incorporate that into quilt labels in the future.

  5. Denise T says:

    I add the following to my care instructions…. if you’re storing it, it’s best to roll it up. If you have to fold it, remember to refold it in a different way every once in a while.(something to that effect).

  6. June says:

    I just love you! You always seem to give information that nobody else seem to give. Maybe they think everybody already knows? But I can always rely on your site to find the answer to a question that doesn’t even really occur to me yet! Does that make sense? 🤣 Thank you for all that you do!!

  7. Kathy says:

    This is awesome info! I’ve had the same issue with friends not using quilts because they are “too nice” and it makes me a little sad. Yes, they are nice…I don’t make yucky quilts (and if I do, they get donated to a charity far far away so I never have to see them again), but it’s likely that I made the quilt to be loved and used. You should hook up with Spoonflower and offer this handy card as a quilt label for people to purchase. I’ve tried to design a few (I’m not that technologically advanced) and one worked out fairly well…although it’s not offered for sale in the public forum. I bought a few yards of it and I give a label to my quilting customers with the return of their quilt so that they will, 1) not forget to put a label on it, and 2) so the person getting the quilt will have basic washing instructions and hopefully a date reference. Whether they use them or not, who knows…but it makes me feel better when a quilt leaves. As well, I include the simple words, “Cuddle often!” because some folks need written permission to use a quilt.

  8. Betty says:

    Many thanks for the quilt washing instructions. Non-quilters do not appreciate how much time goes into making a quilt and I want them to enjoy my work for many years. So the quilts will need washing and I think I’ll make up a little book with your great advice to give along with the quilt. I have five baby quilts to make before June, think I’ll make it? Please know that thoughts of “Spin baby, spin” are coming your way. Be well and that precious little bundle will be heads down and ready to join your family.

  9. Lilly says:

    Baby quilts-I always wash after making – cold water with Shout color sheet and then I put it in
    the dryer-yah I know- on low heat for 10 min. Then I lay flat on a sheet, pat square and let finish
    drying. I figure new moms are going to wash and dry their quilts if they are, hopefully, using them.
    And I want the quilt to look like it will after washing when I gift it.

  10. Elin Redvall says:

    I’m confused. I wash my cotton bed sheets warm and tumble dry warm. I make quilts with cotton fabric and cotton batting, so I wash warm and tumble dry warm. Why is this not good for the quilt? (Love your blog and your patterns)

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Washing in warm or hot water isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just harder on fabric. Heat can cause more shrinkage and sometimes even cause darker dyes to bleed. One reason you’re probably washing clothing in warm water is because that’s tougher on germs. Total cleanliness takes a backseat to preservation where quilts are concerned.

  11. amanda garrett says:

    My first real quilt i made was for my older sister. She is super posh so i really racked my brain and made her a monochromatic jelly roll race. When i shipped it to her i sent it with confirmation, so i was able to call her once she got it. I told her there is a rule with this you must use it. This is the closest thing ive got to giving you a hug every day. So sissy started crying (which she never does, im the emotional one) and now mentions almost every time we talk that it is on her bed and she uses it every day. I have had this same conversation with her lol. Thanks for the post Suzy. I will deffinatly start using the print outs.

  12. Kaylin says:

    I’m currently in the process of making a baby quilt for my friend so I will be passing along this information for sure!!

    My funniest quilt giving story is the following:

    My sister has had this quilt from my grandma since she was born and it is in literal shreds from being used a TON. I having been searching for YEARS for the fabric and someone finally listed a fat quarter on etsy. I swooped in and bought up that fat quarter and made my sister a mini whole cloth quilt. When I gifted it to her she started BALLING happy tears!!

  13. Mea Cadwell says:

    I’ve found that using a sink plunger, that is dedicated to cleaning clothes only, works wonderfully and isn’t as abrasive as hand scrubbing.

    The sink plunger has a smaller rubber cup and a shorter handle so works better in a sink. But a regular (clean) plunger can do the same thing in a tub.

    Oh, and I use the cheapest baby shampoo I can find.

    I’ve used this method for years to clean my delicates and hand sewn historical costumes…like my Elizabethan dress, that has a ton of jewelry on it, that I don’t want to remove and have to sew back each time it’s cleaned. (Just thinking about doing that gives me a headache.)

  14. Marianna says:

    I agree as awlays you give very good advice simple, concise and clear.
    I include not only a quilt care card but also several color catcher sheets when I gift quilts. I also wash all my quilts before gifting them so any bleed happens with color catcher sheets in my washing machine. This allows the quilts to be used right away.
    Over the years I have had all kinds of responses to gifted quilts. Sometimes I didn’t get a thank you at all 🙁 Other times a photo and a lovely thank you note. I’ve learned to let my quilts go into the big world and not think about them after the gifting. Oh yeah, I made my daughter a lovely broken dishes quilt. And wouldn’t you know it she liked the back with a simple single zig zag more than the front, and that is how we put it on her bed…oh well…. 😉

    You are a delight and I so enjoy your posts and IG stories. I wish you well in the biggest upcoming adventure of your life. Be well. Hugs. Marianna from sunny LA.

  15. Fran Gray says:

    In addition to the bathtub, I have used a kiddie pool to wash vintage quilts that we inherited from our grandparents outside. Lots of room to swish! I used to use Dove dishwashing liquid but it is hard to find. Now I use All Free and Clear and then rinse with white vinegar. I roll in towels to squeeze out the excess water and then usually lay them out flat on a white sheet in the shade until they aren’t soaking wet. Finally, I drape them on a clothes rack in the bathtub to finish drying. If you hang them over a shower rod, porch rail, etc., always use a sheet to protect from stains. Never hang a really wet quilt to dry, it is too heavy and weakens the fibers.

    Can’t wait for your sweet little bundle of joy to get here! You’ll have to start making baby clothes in addition to quilts!

  16. Ann M says:

    Thank you for this very useful post. I am going to use your index card. A couple of years ago, I made my son a quilt with a D&D character on it( well, my interpretation of his favorite character) . About a month ago he called to ask if he was supposed to use it. I said that I expect all of my quilts to be used and that was why I gave him washing instructions. It seems that a visitor had seen the quilt on his bed and took him to task for using “that piece of art”. I enjoyed the compliment and said that I apparently make usable art.

  17. Brenda says:

    Thank you for the information and the card to use. Very helpful.
    I have given quilts to each of my nieces for each of their babies. They have been appreciated by all but one of them, and she didn’t even let me know that it had arrived. I played dumb and emailed her to inquire if she had received it, even though I knew she had because of the tracking number, and she emailed back: “Oh, yeah. Thank you for the quilt. It’s really nice,” or something to that effect. She has not received quilts from me for her next two children, but the other nieces have. So disappointed in her reaction. Too much work and love put into a quilt to have it ignored like that. 🙁

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      I’ll never understand that response. I think some people must not understand how much thought, time and effort goes into quilt making. That’s the only conclusion I can figure out.

  18. Vivian says:

    I’ve made a number of quilts over the years for family only, mostly for my grandsons, who are now 11 and 14, and now for my granddaughter, who is now 4. My best memories were made watching them drag them all over the house ! They are now on # 3 and # 4 each, and when I went to put the newest quilt, your Campfire pattern ( which I made as a weighted quilt for the 11 year old) on his bed, I discovered the previous 3 quilts under the top sheet! He still sleeps on top of the other quilts every night! Best hug for Grandma ever!

  19. Enthous says:

    I have a half page quilt care instruction sheet that I enclose with every quilt gift. At the bottom of the sheet I include a link to your article on washing a quilt: https://suzyquilts.com/wash-and-care-for-a-quilt/

    If there are intense colors (often because I love them) I also include a few color catcher sheets. I’ve been told those color catchers really helped them feel a bit less scared about washing. I made my daughter a quilt with a lot of red from pre-cuts which I couldn’t prewash (I almost always prewash if using yardage). She said those color catchers were dark red after the wash, but no bleeding onto the white in the quilt.

  20. Grammy Judy says:

    I have used Orvus soap for many years and not only for my quilts but for anything that regular detergent might be to harsh for. I keep a plastic spoon standing up in the jar and just run it under the water when my machine is filling . You only need a small amount, maybe a teaspoon at the most. I purchase mine at the farmers grain elevator but it also can be found on Amazon.com.

  21. Samantha Saturday says:

    Such great advice! I’m definitely going to retroactively send this out to people who have already gotten quilts from me! One thing I always tell the giftee is that if it needs repair, they should totally let me know! That way they won’t feel as inclined hide it away in fear of wearing it out.

    My mom was reluctant to give me a quilt my grandma had made me as a kid, but finally gave in when I begged her enough. Over the years it was very well loved and we had to replace some blocks and the backing, but I love it even more that way!

  22. Jacqui says:

    Love this post, your instructions (which I will print and give to giftees in the future) and your patterns! My mom is one of those “quilt over-washers” who has the idea they need to be washed often. I am like you and wash mine only when they’re soiled or have an odor, otherwise only once every several years. I do pre-wash all quilts before I gift them to give them a puckery look that I like. Fortunately I have only gifted a couple of quilts and not received thanks for them. My MIL just looked at the one that my husband had begged me to sew for her, said thank you, and then went on doing whatever she was doing without really giving it a second look, and I gave one to niece-in-law for a new baby and never heard a word from her. Fortunately there are others who make up for this lack of response by repeatedly commenting on them. I don’t have much space to store them so I fold them in the summer and use just one on our bed, but turn the heater off and layer 4 or 5 of them on the bed in the winter! While I live in California, I live in a part that gets below freezing in winter so they come in handy!

  23. Wendy says:

    I made a quilt for my MIL 15+ years ago. She oohed and aahed over it, and I never saw it again. I assumed she’d thrown it out, as she was often not fond of my gifts. She passed a couple of months ago. We hired an estate sale company to clear out the house. I was walking thru the night before the sale and what did I see?!? The quilt!! She didn’t toss it out after all. It was just stored deep inside some closet or the attic. My husband told me to take it back. Nope. Too many bad memories. It sold right away. I walked thru the house again last night after the sale and had to chuckle – her favorite (cheap!) blanket was sitting on the floor in a closet, still priced and unsold. Lesson: USE THE NICE THINGS!!

  24. Sue-ann says:

    Thank you! Such helpful info as usual. I’m relatively new to quilting so I haven’t given any quilts away yet, except to my kids. I’m waiting for someone I know to have a baby, then I’ll give one away 🙂

  25. Judy Woods says:

    I gave a quilt to a couple at a bridal shower recently that I had made from Tula Zuma. I was pretty proud of it, and they loved it. When I went to the wedding this weekend, there it was, displayed at the reception! Best compliment ever!
    I always put washing instructions on my quilt labels. And I always say to tumble dry on low heat. I think that people are more likely to use a quilt if they know they can put it in the dryer.

  26. Lauren King says:

    I have a vintage quilt top from the 1920’s that I am making into a quilt. (My dirty little secret: I do not own a sewing machine, nor do I sew. I know, I’m nuts.) I was going to farm it out and have someone else do it, but I decided to teach myself. All that to say, I have really enjoyed reading all your tutorials. I feel well on my way to doing a decent job hand quilting this beauty. 🙂

    You mention hand washing vintage quilts, but you don’t mention how to get them dry. What method do you recommend?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *