Padded bed coverings may be filled with wool, cotton batting, or polyester fiber. The filling is held in place by tufts of yarn or by stitched-through patterns. Most cotton- or polyester-filled comforters and quilts are washable, but some older ones are too delicate to be cleaned at home. Check the manufacturer's instructions where possible.
You also want to keep these things in mind:
- Clean patchwork quilts with the method that is appropriate for the most delicate fabric in the quilt.
- Never attempt to wash silk- or velvet-covered quilts and comforters. Unless a wool batting or covering is marked washable, do not wash it.
- For large quilts, use a commercial washer. Let quilts and comforters soak in the machine for about ten minutes before starting them through a gentle washing cycle.
- Hand-wash and line-dry old or fragile quilts and all quilts with cotton batting. Machine-washing is too harsh and can cause the batting to bunch up. Use a bathtub or deep laundry tub, and allow the soap or detergent to dissolve in the water before adding the quilt.
Down-Filled Comforters and Quilts
The down filling in comforters and quilts is held in place by tufts of yarn or by stitched-through patterns. Most down-filled comforters and quilts are washable, but some older ones are too fragile to be cleaned at home. Test comforters and quilts for colorfastness by wetting an inconspicuous spot with the detergent solution you plan to use and blotting the area with a white blotter.
If the comforters or quilts are in good condition, machine-wash and dry them. Use cold water and an all-purpose detergent. Fragile down comforters and quilts should be hand-washed in the bathtub or a deep laundry tub.
Drape a wet comforter or quilt over several clotheslines to allow excess moisture to drip out; reposition it periodically. If the comforter or quilt is strong enough to be dried in a clothes dryer, use a low temperature setting and include a pair of clean, dry tennis shoes to help fluff the down. The dryer can also be set on air-dry (no heat) to dry the quilt.
Mattresses, box springs, and pillows are all that are left on the list. In the final section, we'll show you how to take care of these.