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Need Help Cleaning Salvaged Quilts

Need Help Cleaning Salvaged Quilts

Old 03-22-2014, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Bedspreadhead View Post
I'm here because I need some advice. I salvaged 12 quilts from a drug house which was full of black mold, dog urine, and rodent excrement. The quilts had been abandoned. Some are family heirlooms, made by family members in Kentucky. Others appear to be unused. I don't know what value they have. They smell pretty awful, and some have discolored areas on them.

The older ones have been washed many times in the past, so I'm running them through the machine with Oxyclean detergent. The others, I'm afraid to mess with. A couple look like they've never been washed, and I don't know if machine washing and drying affect the value. What's the best way to fix them up? Should I just take them to a dry cleaner?
I'd soak them for a couple days in a huge tub even a plastic trash can with a heavy dose of Oxyclean. Put something heavy on top of them to squish them up and down. Rinse, look at them then maybe put them back in another oxyclean soak. After you are happy with them, lay them out somehow, maybe on a wooden porch wiht a sheet under them to let them dry. Don't get in too big a hurry, do one and don't rush. When that one is put out to dry, start the next one. DO NOT HANG THEM TO DRY, puts too much stress on posssibly weak fabric &/or seams
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Old 03-22-2014, 03:01 PM
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RetroClean is supposed to be a good product for cleaning old quilts. stains, etc.
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Old 03-22-2014, 04:22 PM
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After they are washed,drying flat in the sun for a couple of hours would help with the sanitation part..sun has UV light
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Old 03-22-2014, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by francie yuhas View Post
After they are washed,drying flat in the sun for a couple of hours would help with the sanitation part..sun has UV light
The problem with drying in the sun is that sunlight fades fabric and fades it *fast*. For this reason it is always recommended that quilts dried outside be placed in the shade. Even indoor lighting fades fabric -- just not nearly as fast as sunlight.
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Old 03-22-2014, 05:07 PM
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Also you can try OdorBan (Home Depot carries it). It works well on urine (animal and human) and other organic smells. My biggest concern would be the black mold. It is toxic, so don't breath it in (in other words, stop sniffing the quilts- LOL) and wear gloves when handling those quilts with the mold. You need something like bleach to kill off the actual mold spores, but bleach is harmful to a lot of fabrics. Maybe someone else on QB can help with an alternative that will kill the mold, but not hurt the fabric. Be advised that even when the mold is killed, it can still leave black stains where it was on the fabric. Don't know if Oxyclean will kill the mold. Vinegar is not strong enough to kill mold and mildew, however.

Do you have a textile conservator (or quilt appraiser), textile department in a museum or college near you? I would try to call them to get suggestions on cleaning/restoring the quilts since they are family heirlooms.

Good luck and please let us know how you make out.
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Old 03-22-2014, 05:38 PM
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Let's face it... the quilts are ruined now. Nothing you do can hurt them any further. It can only improve them.

I'm surprised if it was a drug house you could have them at all...usually all of that is confiscated and destroyed because of the hazardous toxins in the very fibers of the items. That's why kids and other when taken from drug house can only leave with the clothes on their back and then they are destroyed once the kids are cleansed by social services (we provide blankets for this charity is why I know this).

Unless you have super good ventilation, I don't think I would even attempt to save them. That is harsh but do you really really really want to jeopardize your health for the quilts?

I would not have them in my house or car so the toxins do not leach out from them.

Putting them outside to air won't hurt them at this point either.

Ask a company that specializes in cleaning crime scenes (ask police for names) if they can be saved. It would be worth the money for an expert to do it rather than put you and your family at any risk.

Of course this is just my opinion. I value my current family & health over heirlooms that are currently ruined anyway.
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Old 03-22-2014, 05:40 PM
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You could call a fie/water restoration company and see if they recommend anything else. When we had smoke damage in our house years ago they had special cleaners for everything. Best of luck
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Old 03-23-2014, 01:04 AM
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remember that vinegar is a Natural disinfectant, it will kill the bacteria that may be in the quilts- freshen, get rid of odors and soften them. you may be surprised how well quilts survive laundering- and are more beautiful for it. I do not 'baby' my quilts- even the wool ones, and the ones I have sold for over $2000 have all been through the washing machine and dryer- quilts are much more 'durable' than people seem to think.
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Old 03-23-2014, 03:30 PM
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To clarify again, these were not in a meth lab. They were in the home of an addict. They smell because the house was full of black mold and mildew. There are only a few mildewy places on the quilts. The rat pee is a bigger concern. Fortunately, it appears to be concentrated in the quilt that also has cigarette burns going all the way through it.

Things are going much better than expected. Most of these things will be usable. The color catchers are working. I'm washing them in a warm cycle with a prewash and an extra rinse, and I'm drying them on low heat. If I can get them to the point where they don't smell, then I can make sure they're dry, and I can store them indoors without filling the house with mold funk. After that I'll have time to worry about further cleaning.

When they came home, they smelled so awful I had to open the SUV windows. Not a particularly powerful smell, but very oppressive. Like being trapped in a filthy drawer.
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Old 03-23-2014, 04:13 PM
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So very nice of you to go ahead and take care of these abused quilts! I probably would have written them off as a lost cause, so I'm very happy to hear that they might be salvageable and appreciate the time that you are putting into getting them usable again. I wish you the best of luck with this project.
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