Careful tips for cleaning quilts and comforters

Typically, a quilt or comforter is reversible, covers the top of the bed and drops 40 cm (16 in) over the edge at the foot and sides. Modern comforters and quilts are often filled with bonded polyester fill, but antique or traditional ones usually have down inside them. Old or new, they need to be cleaned with care.

Careful tips for cleaning quilts and comforters

1. Check the fabric care label

  • Make sure that the quilt or comforter is washable.
  • If it is, check that it fits into your washing machine and dryer without being crammed in. They can be troublesome to launder at home because most home washing machines and dryers simply aren't big enough to swallow them.
  • If the quilt or comforter is crowded in the washing machine, it won't be cleaned properly. (And when jammed into a dryer that's too small, it could scorch in some areas while remaining wet in others.)
  • If your home equipment is too small, take it to a self-service laundromat, where the equipment is bigger.
  • Or, if the care label dictates, have it dry cleaned.

2. To wash a quilt or comforter

  • Make sure the fabric is colourfast by rubbing a bit of prewash stain remover in an inconspicuous spot.
  • Pretreat stains and heavily soiled areas, working the stain remover into the fabric gently with a soft, nylon-bristled nailbrush.
  • Then wash your quilt or comforter on its own in your washing machine, with warm water and a suitable laundry detergent, on the gentle cycle.

3. To dry a quilt or comforter

  • Select the right heat setting on your dryer for the fabric type.
  • Add two clean, dry bath towels, a clean tennis shoe or several pristine tennis balls to the drum to knock against the filling and keep it from clumping together.
  • Stop the dryer at least once to make sure the quilt or comforter doesn't scorch inside.
  • And also shake it out once during the drying process, to make sure the filling doesn't clump in one corner.

4. Before washing a quilt or comforter

  • Use an upholstery brush attachment to vacuum it, to get rid of excess dust. Be careful not to suck up any loose threads.
  • If your comforter has lots of loose ends, put nylon netting, available from fabric or bridal shops, over the brush end of your vacuum and secure it with a strong rubber band.
  • An old pair of pantyhose also does the trick.
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