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Thread: How to Clean Old Quilted Blocks

  1. #1
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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.

  11. #11
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I would put it together first, and not wash until the quilt is finished.
    This way you won't have to worry about distorting the blocks or fraying :D:D:D

  12. #12
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    I agree with soaking it in oxyclean or whatever. I would also put a color catcher in with it especially if there are reds.

  13. #13
    Super Member JUNEC's Avatar
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    DO you really have great results with soaking out stains with oxy clean - I like it in my rug shampooer - but i have never really had luck using it to get out stains on fabric.

    I use hot water as directed - but stains never really come out like they do on TV

  14. #14
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    I would soak them in the tablets for dentures they work great for a lot of things. When I bought this house the toilets had black in the bottom so when we went back to our other house I would put 3-4 teb in there and when we moved up here the stain was gone.

  15. #15
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    I have friend...same problem and Oxiclean did NOT work ..I suggest a peroxide Q-tip test on one spot and might try lemon juice and salt, then sun drying to sun bleach the muslin. Anyone else tried this?

  16. #16
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    My mother used salt, lemon juice and sunshine a lot. My 'go tos' are original Dawn, Oxiclean and Carbona.

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