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Quilts need special care in cleaning, but even professionals don't always agree on the best methods for cleaning quilts or even whether it should be done. No two quilts are alike. Methods suited for cleaning one quilt may not be best for another. The fiber content, dyes, and construction make each one unique. Sometimes it may be advisable to clean a quilt. Usually it is best to leave it as is.
Deciding whether to clean a quilt involves careful thought. What is the fiber content? How is the quilt constructed? Can it withstand movement or agitation? Will the colors bleed or fade? How valuable is it to you? How will you feel if it is damaged by your choice of cleaning method? Do you have the equipment and space to clean the quilt? Improper cleaning can permanently damage your quilt.
Make your decision carefully. Very old, fragile, or valuable quilts should be cleaned by a professional textile conservator - not at home. Contact a local or area museum, university, or the American Institute for Conservation, 1717 K Street, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20006, 202/452-9545 for names of professional conservators in your area.
If you decide to attempt cleaning a sturdy quilt yourself, the following recommendations will serve as a useful guide.