A careful guide to washing bedspreads

The term "bedspread" can mean a variety of things, but whether we're talking basic chenille, quilted or fabric-covered batting, they're all cleaned in much the same way.

A careful guide to washing bedspreads

1. At home or at a laundromat?

  • Laundering a bedspread, particularly if it's large or lofty with batting inside it, can be difficult to do at home. Most home washing machines and dryers just aren't big enough to accommodate them. So you might want to take your bedspread to a nearby self-service laundromat, where washing machines and dryers are bigger than most home varieties.
  • Before washing a bedspread, check the care label to make sure it is washable.
  • Pre-treat heavily soiled areas with a pre-wash product.
  • Set the top-loading washing machine on the highest water level, delicate agitation and normal spin.
  • Add a suitable detergent and then partially fill the washing machine's drum with warm water.
  • Stop the machine, add the bedspread and push it down to submerge.
  • Turn on the machine again, finish filling the drum with water and complete the washing cycle.

2. To dry a bedspread

  • Transfer it to the dryer and select the setting appropriate for its fabric type.
  • Add a couple of clean, dry towels and then toss in several clean tennis balls that will knock against the bedspread to prevent its filling from clumping.
  • Stop the dryer twice to make sure the bedspread isn't getting too hot.
  • Shake it out once, too, to make sure the batting doesn't get jammed in one corner.

3. To fluff up a chenille (candlewick) bedspread

  • Wash as described above, and then hang it on an outside clothes line in a stiff wind, with the knotted sides together.
  • The knots will sit up as they rub against one another.
  • Another way to fluff it up is to spread the dry chenille bedspread on a clean floor and then sweep it with a pristine broom.

4. When you get a new bedspread

  • Keep track of its fabric care instructions.
  • Many bedspreads today are sewn from fabric coated with stain repellent. These coatings wear off with repeated washing or dry cleaning, but bedspreads can always be treated again to keep stains at bay.
  • You'll need about three cans of stain repellent to re-treat a double-bed bedspread. (Use the water-based formula.)
  • Some drycleaners will also treat bedspreads for you.
  • If your bedspread is custom-made, information about the fabric's stain-resistant treatment, if any, is often printed on the fabric edge itself or on the paper bolt the fabric comes on. Check with the fabric retailer for details.
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