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Thread: How to Clean Old Quilted Blocks

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    A friend asked me how to clean a stack of old quilted blocks that were given to her. They have been stuffed in a closet for a long time. They are beautifully hand appliqued and were made by her grandmother or great grandmother. They are quite soiled...one spot is about a quarter-size spot...looks like rust or blood. Most of the blocks are covered with speckled rusty-beige-type stains..
    Should she wash each block first (afraid they might ravel) or put them together dirty and then machine wash the whole thing. The hand work is beautiful so I would hate to toss them out---especially since they are so well made and have sentimental value. What to wash them in??? They do not smell musty and it doesn't look like mold...

  2. #2
    Super Member LoriEl's Avatar
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    I would not machine wash. I would soak in a mild cleaner and see what can come out. Rub gently, let soak and then rub again. Maybe after they are sewed together it could be run on a gentle cycle if the edges are secured first. With the sentimental value of it, I would make it regardless of whether the stains came out.

  3. #3
    Super Member icon17's Avatar
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    Funny but just yesterday I too was given the same thing!LOL I'm going to post pic's today!!
    I think its best to put them together 1st!!it just seems to me they will have a better chance of holding up to the stress of washing and any other stuff you will have to do to get them clean!! If they smell you can put them in a box with a lid and put alot of Bakeing Soda close it and shake and let it set for a day or so so you can Sew with out the smell.:)

  4. #4
    Super Member Quilter7x's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LoriEl
    I would not machine wash. I would soak in a mild cleaner and see what can come out. Rub gently, let soak and then rub again. Maybe after they are sewed together it could be run on a gentle cycle if the edges are secured first. With the sentimental value of it, I would make it regardless of whether the stains came out.
    I agree to make it up regardless of the stains. From the sounds of it, it will be a beautiful quilt.

    I don't have any advice on how to clean it as I have not done that before.

  5. #5
    Super Member sewcrafty's Avatar
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    Maybe try Grandma's Magic Spot Remover or oxi clean? Then would hand wash.

  6. #6
    Power Poster blueangel's Avatar
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    I agree, I would sew them together first and then soak them.

  7. #7
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I would verify that the spots are not rust (and that the fibers are not damaged). If it is "just dirt" I would air them out and finish the quilt. Then I would deal with washing and spot treating.

    My reason for saying this: I have an old quilt top from my MIL and it was aweful. So I washed it - carefully in the tub. Yes, it is clean BUT the seams are wads of threads and I will need to do some serious trimming and pressing before I can work on it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member yonnikka's Avatar
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    Absolutely soak in Oxy-Clean. It is oxygen based. No chlorine. Soak reds separately. Do a couple at a time, to check and see the result.

  9. #9
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    I soaked some of my grandma's in some oxi clean and hand washed. The blocks came clean and bright with no problems. I wouldn't put in machine unless it was sewn together.

  10. #10
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    Only wash by hand. Soak in whatever cleaner you choose, rinse gently, and roll in towel to dry. I bought some old Dresden plate blocks once that had spots. A couple spots (looked like rust) never did come out on the white background, but I added sashin, borders, and quilted it. It won a Best of Show ribbon at the county fair even with the spots.

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