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Thread: Very Old Quilts

  1. #1
    Junior Member The Bag Lady's Avatar
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    I have a very old quilt that has been in the family. It smells very musty ----any suggestions on how to clean it to remove the odor. Thanks The Bag Lady

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Bag Lady
    I have a very old quilt that has been in the family. It smells very musty ----any suggestions on how to clean it to remove the odor. Thanks The Bag Lady
    depending on the condition its in.... you can run warm water in bathtub and there's a 'wool lite' soap you can buy-let that 'filter' in the water while its running, then lay the quilt in the tub and let it 'sit' in the water and push on the quilt once every 20 min. or so up to 2 to 3 hrs. Drain, run fresh warm water over the quilt, dip process again then let drain, push on quilt to get rid of excess water or squeeze to get rid of excess and drape over a clothes line out side or other means of drying if the quilt is 'up to it' (again all this depends on the age/condition of the quilt. I also have another way of "freshening' fabrics... not sure it will work with 'older, delicate items'. I put the meltaway candles (small circles of candles that you put in a melting pot) in what scent you prefer, in a baggie, leave the baggie open but lay it inside a drawer or wherever you store the item and close the drawer for a while, rotating the places you put the baggie from time to time. good luck, mildew odor isnt an easy thing to deminish in an old quilt and keep the quilt safe at the same time. You might want to also try some vinegar or fresh diluted lemon juice in your rinse water when tub bathing the quilt.
    hope this helps!

  3. #3
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Here's what the experts at UNL have to say: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/vi...extiles_facpub
    I would certainly NOT spray it with anything, wash it, or hang it over a clothesline. Depending on age and condition, I would not put it in a dryer either.

  4. #4
    Super Member Barb_MO's Avatar
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    I can't believe anyone would try to wash an old quilt in the bathtub. Even if you drain the wanter then try to squeeze out most of the water out of the quilt , it would weigh a ton. I wouldn't have enough towels in the house to try to blot the excess water out. Hanging on the line or laying out flat to dry would take so long.
    I don't have a sensible suggestion for getting the odor out, but I have hung dry quilts on a line outdoors, especially in winter.

  5. #5
    Junior Member The Bag Lady's Avatar
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    Thanks Loretta.

    There are some worn spots on the quilt. Also, it looks like it was made from someones clothes. I will have to air it outside in the spring because we are having snow right now.
    Bag Lady

  6. #6
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_MO
    I can't believe anyone would try to wash an old quilt in the bathtub. Even if you drain the wanter then try to squeeze out most of the water out of the quilt , it would weigh a ton. I wouldn't have enough towels in the house to try to blot the excess water out. Hanging on the line or laying out flat to dry would take so long.
    I don't have a sensible suggestion for getting the odor out, but I have hung dry quilts on a line outdoors, especially in winter.
    I've washed them in the bathtub by placing them in a sturdy laundry basket first, then drying flat outside.

  7. #7
    Tiffany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_MO
    I can't believe anyone would try to wash an old quilt in the bathtub. Even if you drain the wanter then try to squeeze out most of the water out of the quilt , it would weigh a ton. I wouldn't have enough towels in the house to try to blot the excess water out. Hanging on the line or laying out flat to dry would take so long.
    I don't have a sensible suggestion for getting the odor out, but I have hung dry quilts on a line outdoors, especially in winter.
    This is exactly how a gal at the Smithsonian Museum instructs how to wash quilts - in the bathtub! You should have a screen or something to lay it across because it will be very heavy. However, if the quilt is very old it is recommended NOT to wash it. Instead you vacuum it. First you vacuum the quilt, but not by putting the vacuum on it and running it over the quilt. Instead, you want to put a screen through a small embroidery hoop and use your vacuum hose nozel to gently vacuum the quilt through the screen.

    If you have a lot of birds in your area you don't want to put it on a clothes line outside either, for obvious reasons. (Darn birds just love to sit on my quilts and deficate! :evil: ) Instead, lay a sheet out on the floor and spread your quilt out to dry on it. If you have a fan, put that near the quilt and turn it on. The airflow will help it dry faster.

    Somewhere in my quilt room I have the instructions for this. Let me see if I can find them (without getting lost myself!) and I will post them. If nothing else, you'll get to see how the Smithsonian treats their quilts.

  8. #8
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiffany
    Somewhere in my quilt room I have the instructions for this. Let me see if I can find them (without getting lost myself!) and I will post them. If nothing else, you'll get to see how the Smithsonian treats their quilts.
    What you described sounds like what the University of Nebraska, International Quilt Study Center says in the link I posted above. Should be interesting to see any differences.

  9. #9
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I would be leery of putting it in the dryer...even on low/no heat there is enough heat that could set small unseen/unnoticed stains :wink:

  10. #10
    Super Member jljack's Avatar
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    I have washed very old quilts in the bathtub, using very small amount of dish soap mixed well in the water first, then carefully submerge the quilt, and just pressing with my hands to "squeeze" the water through it. It works really well. Then I use a gallon pitcher to pour fresh water over it to rinse (after draining the tub). After no more "bubbles" are coming out, I press with my hands again to get as much water out as possible, and it takes a while to do this. Then I roll the quilt up and pick up the whole thing at once. Then lay it out on plastic covered with white sheet on the floor in my extra bedroom. It takes about 3 days to dry, and I turn on the ceiling fan on high to help that process. They come out clean and fresh smelling, and much more flexible after that. I have only done cotton ones, though. I would not attempt wool or silk.

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