This was up in an uninsulated attic for years. I remember my mother buying it from her brother's wife's mother and I believe she paid $25 for it in the 1970s. Judging by the woman's age at the time, it was probably made in the 1920s. However, it is starting to deteriorate and is badly stained. I didn't want to just shove it in my top-loading washer - I doubt it would hold up, or even get the stains out. Any suggestions?
If it is really rotten, you are supposed to lay netting (fiberglass screening is heavy enough to not suck up into the vacuum) over the surface and vacuum.
If you think it will hold up to a washing, you do that in the bathtub. Cold water...small amount of gentle detergent...squish it around. No heavy wringing or twisting.
Move it to one side, pull the plug and squish as much of the soapy water out. You might need to rinse it two or three times to make certain you get all the soap out.
Best way to dry is to put a clean sheet out on the lawn and lay the quilt on top of that. Watch out for 4-legged animals and birds in the air...
Me...I have only one quilt that I will never wash. The other old quilts I have put in the washing machine on gentle...mostly soak cycle. Spun the water out and rinsed a couple of times. With plenty of water spun out, I have hung them on the clothes line or toss in the dryer on gentle...low heat. But that is a choice you have to make.
The following articles are good:
Is your goal to keep it intact or is your goal to get it clean and sweet smelling?
Is it tied or is it quilted? If it is tied (like every 4 to 6 inches or so) and filled with old fashioned batting (not like we have now) it will all ball up inside the quilt, no matter how you wash it.
If it is unfilled with anything or maybe like an old blanket (this step is worth taking it apart enough to check) then you can wash it. I have washed many a quilt by walking on it in the bathtub, many rinses and then squeezing the extra water out and drying it flat.
Unfortunately many nice old quilts are too hard to preserve after many years of neglect. Another thing you could do is to disassemble the quilt thus having two quilt tops and pass them on to someone who wants to finish them off.
It's tied and filled with what looks like compacted, lumpy cotton.
Then it will be a mess if you try to wash it in any way. Pass it on to a quilt lover. It has no financial value as it is.
If you want to keep it, it can be hand washed in a bathtub. Soaked, squished, rinsed...as described above.
lf you want it strictly for display, you could give it a good airing. Hang it outside or lay it on a sheet on the grass in a good shady area.
That lumpy cotton is the old stuff. Way back when quilts had to be quilted as close as 1" apart. Any further and washing would cause the cotton to clump. Cotton has short fibers and there's just not much to hang on to. Best comparison I can make would be like trying to braid your hair if it is only 3 inches long compared to 12 inches long.
Newer cotton batting is treated to "grab" to itself and not clump.
As far as value - it is probably not worth anything.
In case you are wondering, the pink/white side pattern is called Pinwheel.
Does not look too bad. And like you said - it is clean.
Some stains like that, I can live with if I know the quilt is clean and smells nice. You can enjoy it now.
Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.
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