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    Question on Washing Musty Quilt

    First let me say how much I've enjoyed reading your forum. I just learned to machine quilt this summer (not a formal class but through a local hospital senior circle group) and have learned so much by reading many of your posts. Thank you all - should have thanked you sooner!

    I need advice before I proceed in trying to wash a small quilt my mother made about 20 years ago when, at age 72, she first learned to quilt and in each class they started a different block pattern. Hers is hand-quilted and every 12" block is a different. She is now 92 and just moved into an assisted living facility and we are trying to add things to her small apartment that have meaning for her. The problem? This quilt has never been washed and needs it. It has been down in a basement rec room almost all of those years and smells musty. There has been dampness at the least. When I looked at the quilt I think part of what I'm seeing is a little mildew (mostly on binding and a little on back) and there's even one area where the color from the front bled through on the stitch lines are onto what looks like a muslin backing. I've searched how to get mildew off and found multiple solutions including vinegar, lemon juice, ammonia and more. Thanks to you ladies, I bought some color catchers when I started pre-washing my fabrics. While Mom's quilt is a beautiful color, the border and sashing (I think that's the right word) are burgundy. My feeling is if I try to remove mildew or spray-treat the fabric in advance the colors will surely bleed. I'm not too sure it won't using them in the washer with color catchers. My mother is a saver so I suspect many of the fabrics she used were from an old stash although the predominant burgundy was probably purchased at the time she made the quilt. My first thought (with Mom's agreement) was to wash on a gentle cycle in cold water using two color catchers ignoring what I think might be mildew instead of dust or soil. Then I decided I might get some good advice if I just took the plunge and ask the helpful and experienced forum members here. Also, IF I wash and there is no bleeding, is it safe to dry on low heat in a dryer? Stitching looks to be secure. Or should I ask a dry cleaner? That possibility worries me even more than trying to wash it. Any help will be appreciated ... and apologies for the length of the post.

    #2
    Re: Question on Washing Musty Quilt

    I recently found a bedspread that my grandmother crocheted as a child. It is beautiful but smelled very moldy. I tried washing it, presoaking it in vinegar, etc but it always came out of the washer with a slight scent of mold. Finally< put a LOT of vingegar in the washer and soaked it for about a day. Guess what?!? No mold smell. I gently dried it in the dryer but then finished the drying outside.

    If you want to try to wash your mother's quilt, please understand it might not make it through the process. But, she can't use it as it is, soooooooo-if it was me, I would try. I would start with cold water, two color catchers and wash on gentle cycle with a gentle detergent. BUT don't put it in the dryer. When it comes out, do a smell test. And mold smell and then I would soak it overnight in vinegar. Then wash gently as above. I am not sure I would dry it. Where I live, everything molds if not dried due to the high humidity. If you can air dry it, that would be great. If not, then dry it on the most gentle cycle.

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      #3
      Re: Question on Washing Musty Quilt

      I would not take it to the dry cleaners, especially an older quilt. I had asked someone about this a long time ago and was told that the long term results of using drying chemicals on old fabric might not be good.

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        #4
        Re: Question on Washing Musty Quilt

        I would definately wash it. Because of the burgandy I would use at least 2 color catchers. Wash in cold water with your regular laundry detergent, and fabric softener on the gentle cycle. As far as drying, I would dry it on low with a couple of tennis balls or anything that will beat it up as it is drying. Good luck, cuz I know your mom would love to have it with her.
        Blankets wrap you in warmth, quilts wrap you in love

        Marilyn......
        sigpic

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          #5
          Re: Question on Washing Musty Quilt

          Thank you all very much for your advice. I'm going to take the plunge and wash it, keeping fingers crossed her quilt can be saved and enjoyed. Makes me nervous but it's not something we want to add to her space like it is.

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            #6
            Re: Question on Washing Musty Quilt

            Good luck, please let us know how it comes out.
            Donna
            MSQC: Where Strangers become Friends and Friends become Family!

            "The soul would have no rainbows, if the eyes had no tears."native American wisdom

            sigpic

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              #7
              Re: Question on Washing Musty Quilt

              If you haven't washed it already or if the musty down't come out, add a cup of baking soda to the wash. It won't hurt and just might do the trick on removing the smell. As far as machine washing and drying an older quilt, don't be so worried. If the quilt was made well it should do fine. I have machine washed and dried several quilts that are 40+ years old that my grandmother made with no problems.
              K is for Karen 😊​..................
              Cremation - My last hope for a smokin' hot body.


              Before you speak,
              T - is it TRUE?
              H - is it HELPFUL?
              I - is it INSPIRING?
              N - is it NECESSARY?
              K - is it KIND?

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                #8
                Re: Question on Washing Musty Quilt

                Ladies, I was doing the happy dance this morning. Life got in the way and I couldn't wash the quilt yesterday. But this morning it was #1 on my list of things to do today. Karen I saw your note about adding baking soda so did so. I put in 4 color catchers and peeked after it was washing for a couple of minutes. The dark burgundy water scared me so I threw in one more for good measure. I am VERY pleased to report that the quilt came out beautifully from the washer and dryer and no odor remained. With a close eye, you can see the binding on the end with the most damage is not quite as it should be but I don't think it will even be noticeable to most people. Even the place that had bled through on the backing from being damp/wet looks just fine now. Maybe I can find how to post a picture here and add a photo of her sampler quilt.

                Thanks again to each of you. Your advice helped give me the courage to take a deep breath and just try it! I'm so very pleased with the results. Wish I could give you all a hug! Can't wait to take it to Mom tomorrow.

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