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Thread: fabric softener

  1. #1
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    I was always told that when pre-washing fabric, one should wash it as the finished quilt will be washed. Then yesterday, I reading a quilt magazine and the writer of the article said fabric softener, either liquid or sheets should never be used. No reason given. The thing is, when I do laundry, I almost always use fabric softener, and I would imagine most people do. So my question is, when pre-washing fabric, use or don't use fabric softener? And if not, why? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    ignore her and wash as it pleases you to wash. who knows why the "experts" make up half the stooooopid rules they make up? :roll:

  3. #3
    Super Member Dawn Hendrix's Avatar
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    amen Patrice .. nough said

  4. #4
    Super Member MissTreated's Avatar
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    Julie,
    Dryer sheets leave a residue on fabric that often stains or leaves the evidence of what looks like a stain. They aren't good to use on anything.

    As for liquid fabric softener, that is up to you. If you are prewashing your fabric and you would like it to remain a little stiffer, the fabric softer will not help you out on that. It truly makes it softer. (they use it for bending wood, too!)

    Liquid fabric softener will also help make you fabric a little more "water resistant." That's why it's not recommended for towels. On the other hand, I use it when washing wool garments because the water is more apt to "bead up" on it when in a light rain.

    Hope that helps.

    M

  5. #5
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    I agree with MissTreated.
    :thumbup:

    Also, they leave chemicals on the fabric that prevent it from creasing and pressing as it should for quiltmaking.

  6. #6

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    Hi i read a article about washing and drying quilts, i don't remember what book and the article read if you use fabric softer or fabric sheets in the long run it will break down the texture of the fabric and break down the threads in the fabric. I don't really know because i never wash my quilts i just hang mine on the fence and let them get some fresh air, of course i really keep my eyes on them when they are outside lol :D Annette

  7. #7
    Super Member Minda's Avatar
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    I never use fabric softener when I wash fabric, but I do use a small amount of liquid fabric softener when I wash my quilts.

  8. #8
    Super Member vicki reno's Avatar
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    I use the dryer sheets occaisionally on permanent press and keep the used sheets. I use them in applique like when doing hearts or circles. I admit, I am lazy when it comes to turning under raw edges so if I can find a shortcut, I will use it. It usually takes several tumbles with several loads of laundry to get the softner out of the dryer sheet, but then they are great to use. I don't recall ever using any softner on a quilt. thats not to say, you can't. Bear in mind that there are probably as many opinions as there are quilts. I don't prewash my fabric either unless it a real dark color and I am worried about it bleeding all ove everything else.
    That's my story and I am sticking to it. :lol: :lol:

  9. #9
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    i tend to be radically practical about such things. i almost never prewash because i prefer working with all those nasty residues. they give the fabric body, which makes it easier to work with. (AND because i'm lazy. AND because i'm fortunate in having a choice in the matter. i know many people have allergies, sensitive skin, and other issues that force them to the prewashing machine.)

    it stands to reason that softener would leave a residue. i just can't picture myself worrying about that. fabric softener has been around longer than i have. i suspect that if it posed any long term danger to fabric, there'd have been a great screaming protest we'd all know about. if it ever did, it's surely been reformulated or some lawsuit would've chased it off the shelves.

    given the price of fabric today, it had darned well better stand up to a little thing like fabric softener, anyway. with proper care otherwise, i'll bet a quilt well constructed today will last for generations - with otherwise proper care - whether or not it's washed with softener.

    there are so many other things to "worrry" about when making a quilt. this debate could rage for ages - friendly all the way, of course. (you should read us when we get started on whether or not to prewash; the price of fabric; walmart; and one or two other subjects. we are a total HOOT!!! :lol: ) at the end of the day, it's still mostly a matter of personal preference.

    if you've experienced no problems in the past using fabric softener, and plan to prewash your quilting fabric, why not put softener on some, none on others, then decide which you find easier to work with?

  10. #10
    community benefactor Knot Sew's Avatar
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    I'm with Patrice, if I have ,it I use it, not as much as it says. I always use the liquid on the clothes I hang outside in the summer. The only stuff I prewash is something that looks like it will fade.

    Now, how about them bugs that like to eat starch. tehe :twisted:

  11. #11
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Hi Julie. The gal should have given an explanation instead of just saying don't do it because there are two reasons you don't want to use fabric softner or dryer sheets with your quilting fabrics. The first, if you use any type of pelon or the stuff that is used in many applique projects. I can't for the life of me think of the name and I'm going to feel very foolish when I think of it, but please bear with me. It's the stuff you iron onto your fabric and you can use it to iron that fabric onto another. When you use a dryer sheet or fabric softner, that product will not stick to your fabric very well, if at all. The residue left behind on the fabric acts as a protective barrier.

    The other reason is that there are certain bugs, especially silver fish, that love to eat the fabric softner from your fabric, which is the same as saying they eat your fabric. That is also why you aren't supposed to store any fabric with spray starch on it for long periods of time. There is nothing worse than trying to build a fabric stash only to discover bugs have gotten into it and destroyed it. :evil: I hope this helps clear up any confusion. :thumbup:
    ~Tiffany


  12. #12
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    Thanks to all. I knew I could count on this quilt guild to explain and suggest. Love you all. :) :)

  13. #13
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    Well, I'm late on the topic but just my two cents...

    I prewash and I use fabric sheets in the dryer...I HATE static ..it drives me insane! If I don't use it every little thread or dust particle STICKS to my fabric and I hate that worse than anything!

    In the washer, depending on how many pieces I wash at a time, I sometimes throw some of my "normal" soap in, if its just a few fat quarters then I may just do a rinse cycle, no soap.

  14. #14
    cynde's Avatar
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    Hi, I always pre-wash with very little detergent, to set the colors and so the fabric will distort (if it's going to) before I cut it and quilt it.

    I have never used fabric softener or dryer sheets, once when doing a lot of costume sewing for a friend, I got sick to my stomach and a pounding headache, figured out later (when it came back again) that it was from pressing and working with the fabric that had all the chemicals still in it from the fabric softener.

  15. #15
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    cynde - Ouch! You have my complete sympathy.

    FUSIBLE WEB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you ladies had any idea how long that has been bugging me. :roll: I knew I'd feel silly when I remembered the name. I was right. :?

    I used dryer sheets occasionally when I lived in the Mojave Desert, especially in the summer when the temperatures would reach into the low 120F range. (Yeah, don't miss that!) I can understand what Country Quilter is saying about static. Now that I live here in Idaho it isn't something I have to worry about. I guess the answer would be, if you plan to use any type of fusible web, don't use dryer sheets or fabric softner. If you live in an area where bugs could be a problem, don't use dryer sheets or fabric softner. If you don't have to worry about either of those problems and you want to use these products, then do so. There really seems to be no right or wrong answer, simply what works best for each quilter.

    Here's a fun dryer sheet tip. Once your dryer sheet has been used past the point where it is any good in the dryer, you can clean your dirty irons by ironing the dryer sheet. The sheet pulls the residue off the face plate of the iron, leaving it gunk free. They also work great to collect loose threads, acting much like a coffee filter would and hanging onto the threads so they don't continue to drift around the sewing room. :wink:
    ~Tiffany

  16. #16
    Super Member vicki reno's Avatar
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    Tiffany: the brand ames for the stuff are heat n bond and wonder under. I do lots of applique and use tons of it, but find that wonder under comes in a lighter weight so I try to find it. The other stuff with out the paper is called fine fuse.

  17. #17
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Thank you Vicki! I must confess I do needle turn applique and while I have used those products, it has been very infrequently and I seem to have a mental block over remembering the name.
    ~Tiffany

  18. #18
    Senior Member Bluphrog's Avatar
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    I'm with Patrice. It's all personal preference. That's what makes quilting an art, not a science!

    BTW, I cut my dryer sheets in half and still get the same effect. Saves money, but my towels absorb better.

    E in TX

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