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How to Remove Stains from Vintage Quilt

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By Heather Henderson

My Laundry Question

I have a handmade quilt, at least 50 years old, possibly a good bit more. It is white, with a pattern of bright red poppies. There is a stain about 10" across on one part of the quilt. Is there any way to remove the stain?



Share a Little Background Info

I don't know -- It has probably been there since before I was born. Looks like a spill of some sort. I'm afraid that I really can't tell you any more than that about the stain. However, I would like to remove the stain so I can use the quilt.

Lessons Learned

  • No, I haven't dared to try anything.

Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

Your quilt sounds lovely. What you should do depends on the value - both monetary and emotional - of your quilt. The safest way to clean the quilt is to take it to a textile conservator who can evaluate the quilt and then offer advise on how and whether to remove the stain.

If you would like to clean it at home, begin by filling your bathtub or a very large sink with cool water. Add 1/2 cup oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach ) and stir to be sure that all of the bleach is dissolved or dispersed. Submerge your quilt completely. Allow it to soak for 24 hours - occasionally swishing it around with your hands. Check the stained area. If it is clean, drain the water and fill again to rinse the quilt. You may need to rinse several times or until the water is clear. If the stain remains, repeat the process for another 24 hours.

When the quilt is rinsed, do not wring the quilt. Absorb excess water with heavy towels. Allow the quilt to air dry or tumble only briefly on low heat and then allow to air dry.

For more information, read my article on care and storage of vintage quilts. Good luck!

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