Do I Need To Wash My Fabric Before Quilting?



Do I Need to Wash My Fabric before Quilting

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Yes, It is good to wash your fabric before quilting. But, It all depends on what you want and what your goals are. In fact, washing your fabric first does have some real benefits.

Here are some:

  • Help Prevent Color Bleeding.
  • Clean and de-wrinkle fabric.
  • Deals with Shrinkage.
  • Removes chemicals.

When it comes to quilting, there are a lot of different opinions out there on whether or not you need to wash your fabric before you start working with it. But washing is essential in order to avoid shrinkage and bleeding. Also, it will be easy to work with washed fabric at every stage of the construction process.

Dos And Don’ts of Wash Fabric Before Quilting

Washing fabric before quilting is a common practice to remove sizing, dirt, and potential shrinkage. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when washing fabric before quilting:


  • Read the Fabric Care Label: Check the care label on each fabric piece you plan to use. It will provide instructions on how to wash and care for the fabric properly. Follow these recommendations.
  • Separate by Color: Sort your fabrics by color to avoid color bleeding during the wash. You may want to wash like-colored fabrics together to prevent any color transfer.
  • Pre-Wash All Fabrics: It’s a good practice to pre-wash all fabrics, even if they’re from the same collection, as they may have different shrinkage rates or care requirements.
  • Use a Mild Detergent: Use a gentle, color-safe detergent to protect the fabric’s colors and prevent damage.
  • Wash on a Delicate Cycle: Select a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine to minimize abrasion and friction that can cause fraying or damage to the fabric.
  • Use Cold Water: Cold water helps preserve the colors and fibers of the fabric while minimizing the risk of shrinkage.
  • Dry on Low Heat or Air Dry: If you choose to use a dryer, opt for a low-heat setting. Alternatively, you can air dry the fabric by hanging it or laying it flat to prevent excessive shrinkage and potential fabric damage.
  • Iron or Press if Necessary: After washing and drying, iron or press the fabric to remove wrinkles and make it easier to work with. Use the appropriate heat setting for the fabric type.


  • Don’t Skip Pre-Washing: Avoid skipping the pre-washing step, even if you believe the fabric won’t shrink. Pre-washing helps remove sizing and any chemicals that may affect the quality of your quilt over time.
  • Don’t Mix Fabrics with Different Care Instructions: Do not wash fabrics with different care requirements together. Fabrics with varying shrinkage rates or color-fastness may not fare well when washed together.
  • Don’t Use Hot Water: Avoid using hot water, as it can cause fabrics to shrink and fade more quickly.
  • Don’t Overload the Washing Machine: Do not overload the washing machine with too many fabric pieces at once. Overcrowding can lead to inadequate cleaning and potential damage to the fabrics.
  • Don’t Skip Sorting: Failing to sort fabrics by color can lead to color bleeding, which can ruin your quilting project.
  • Don’t Use Harsh Detergents or Bleach: Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach, as they can weaken fabric fibers and affect the colors.
  • Don’t Wring Out the Fabric: Do not wring or twist the fabric to remove excess water, as this can distort the fabric’s shape and cause wrinkles.

By following these dos and don’ts, you can ensure that your fabric is clean, prepared, and ready for quilting, while preserving its quality and appearance.

How To Wash Fabric Before Quilting: Step By Step

Washing fabric before quilting is an important step to prepare it for your quilting project. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to wash fabric before quilting:

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Fabric pieces for quilting
  • Mild detergent suitable for the fabric type
  • Washing machine
  • Optional: Fabric softener
  • Iron and ironing board

Step 1

Read the Fabric Care Labels: Examine each fabric’s care label to determine the recommended washing instructions. Follow these guidelines to ensure you don’t damage the fabric.

Step 2

Sort Fabric by Color: Separate your fabric pieces by color. This helps prevent color bleeding during the wash. Fabrics with similar colors can be washed together.

Step 3

Pre-Wash All Fabrics: Pre-wash all fabric pieces, even if they’re from the same collection or you believe they won’t shrink. This step removes sizing and any chemicals that may affect the quilt’s quality over time.

Step 4

Use a Mild Detergent: Choose a gentle, color-safe detergent that is suitable for the type of fabric you’re washing. Add the recommended amount of detergent based on your washing machine’s capacity.

Step 5

Set the Washing Machine: Select a delicate or gentle cycle on your washing machine. This cycle minimizes abrasion and friction that can damage the fabric.

Step 6

Use Cold Water: Use cold water for the wash cycle. Cold water helps preserve the colors and fibers of the fabric while reducing the risk of shrinkage.

Step 7

Optional: Add Fabric Softener: If you prefer softer fabric for your quilt, you can add a mild fabric softener during the rinse cycle. Follow the product’s instructions for the correct amount to use.

Step 8

Load the Washing Machine: Place the sorted fabric pieces into the washing machine. Avoid overcrowding the machine, as this can lead to inadequate cleaning and potential damage to the fabrics.

Step 9

Start the Wash Cycle: Start the washing machine, and let it complete the wash cycle. Ensure it runs according to the selected settings, including temperature and spin speed.

Step 10

Dry the Fabric: After the wash cycle is complete, you have two options for drying:

  • Low-Heat Dryer: If you choose to use a dryer, select a low-heat setting. This helps prevent excessive shrinkage and fabric damage.
  • Air Dry: Alternatively, you can air dry the fabric by hanging it or laying it flat. This method is the safest for preserving the fabric’s quality.

Step 11

Iron or Press if Necessary: Once the fabric is dry, use an iron or press to remove wrinkles and make the fabric easier to work with. Set the iron to the appropriate heat setting based on the fabric type.

Step 12

Store or Use for Quilting: Store the washed and pressed fabric pieces in a clean, dry place until you’re ready to use them for your quilting project.

Alternative Washing Methods for Fabric Before Quilting

While washing fabric before quilting is a common practice to prepare the material, there are alternative methods if you prefer not to wash your fabric using water. These methods can help preserve the fabric’s original condition, especially if you are concerned about color bleeding or shrinkage. Here are some alternative washing methods for fabric before quilting:

  • Steam Refreshing: If your fabric doesn’t have significant dirt or sizing but needs refreshing, consider using a garment steamer or a steam iron with a fabric setting. Hang the fabric and pass the steamer or iron over it, using steam. This can help remove wrinkles and odors without washing.
  • Fabric Spray: Use a fabric spray designed to freshen and remove odors from fabrics. Lightly spray your fabric pieces and allow them to air out. This method can be particularly useful for fabrics that can’t be laundered.
  • Freezer Method: To kill any potential pests or their eggs on the fabric without washing, fold the fabric and place it in a sealed plastic bag. Put the bag in the freezer for a few days. The cold temperatures will eliminate pests without damaging the fabric.
  • Lint Roller or Brush: If your fabric has collected lint, dust, or pet hair, use a lint roller or fabric brush to remove these particles. Roll or brush the fabric surface gently until it’s clean.
  • Spot Cleaning: Address specific stains or spots by using a gentle fabric stain remover or a mixture of water and mild detergent. Dab the stained area with a clean cloth or sponge, and then blot it with a dry cloth. This method allows you to clean only the affected areas without immersing the entire piece in water.
  • Scented Sachets: To add a fresh scent to your fabric pieces, consider placing scented sachets or potpourri in the storage container with the fabric. This can help keep the fabric smelling pleasant.
  • Vacuuming: Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to gently remove dust and dirt from the fabric’s surface. Make sure the vacuum is set to a low suction level to avoid damaging the fabric.
  • Dry Cleaning: If your fabric is labeled as “dry clean only,” you can take it to a professional dry cleaner. They have the expertise and equipment to clean the fabric without using water.
  • Shake and Air Out: Give your fabric a good shake outdoors to help remove dust and odors. Hang it in a well-ventilated area for a few hours to air it out.

Remember that while these alternative methods can be useful for refreshing or cleaning fabric without traditional washing, they may not eliminate all potential contaminants. Choose the method that best suits your needs and the condition of your fabric before beginning your quilting project.

Benefits Of Washing Fabric Before Quilting

Here are some benefits to washing your fabric before you start working with it. Washing your fabric before quilting will:

Help Prevent Color Bleeding

Every quilter cares about how long the colors last. The colors in your fabric won’t run into other parts of the quilt if you wash it first.

You don’t want that pretty red border to make pink streaks on your white background.

When working with fabric that has a lot of color, it’s usually best to be safe and wash the fabric first.

Clean And De-Wrinkle Fabric

Technically, you can get rid of wrinkles by pressing the fabric, but you can also get rid of wrinkles by washing the fabric. Washing will also get rid of folds that get stuck in the fabric and make it hard to sew together.

If the fabric you bought has been in the factory or warehouse for a while, it might need to be cleaned.

Pre-washing gives you, so to speak, a clean slate to work with.

Deals with Shrinkage

Especially cotton, many types of fabric shrink when washed. When you wash your fabric first, the fabric can shrink now rather than after your item is finished.

You won’t have to be concerned about shrinkage affecting your quilt’s design or general appearance and feel when you wash it later.

Removes chemicals

Pre-washing is a smart idea if you or anyone else who will use the quilt has sensitive skin. In the manufacturing process, the majority of fabrics are treated with chemicals, which might irritate the skin.

Pre-wash if skin sensitivity is a problem. Always choose safety over regret.

How to Pre Wash Fabric Without Fraying

If you’re a sewist, you know that pre-washing your fabric is important. But sometimes you don’t have enough time to wash an entire bolt of fabric before starting your project. Or maybe you’re working with vintage fabric and don’t want to risk ruining it in the wash.

Whatever the reason, there are ways to pre-wash fabric without fraying it. One way is to soak your fabric in a tub of lukewarm water with a mild detergent. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes, then rinse well and dry as usual.

This method is good for large pieces of fabric or for fabrics that are particularly dirty or smelly. Another way to pre-wash fabric without fraying it is to mist it with water and then iron it on a low setting. This will help remove any wrinkles and set the fibers so they won’t fray as easily when washed.

Be sure to test a small area first to make sure the iron isn’t too hot and will actually set the fibers instead of melting them!

Do You Use Detergent When Pre-Washing Fabric?

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think twice about using detergent when you pre-wash fabric. However, did you know that there are actually benefits to using detergent when pre-washing fabric? First of all, detergent can help to remove any unwanted finishes or treatments from the fabric.

This is especially important if you’re planning on dyeing the fabric later on. Secondly, detergent can help to remove any sizing that may be present in the fabric. Sizing is often used to make fabrics look nicer and smoother, but it can also make them harder to work with.

By removing the sizing, you’ll be able to get a better result when dyeing or printing on the fabric. Lastly, detergent can also help to brighten up the colors of your fabric. If you’re planning on using brightly colored fabrics for your project, pre-washing with detergent will help those colors pop even more!

Forgot to Pre Wash Quilt Fabric

If you forgot to prewash your quilt fabric, don’t worry! You can still wash it before you start working with it. Just be sure to use a gentle cycle and a mild detergent.

Should You Wash Batting before Quilting?

If you’re planning on quilting a project that includes batting, you may be wondering if you need to wash the batting before you get started. The truth is, it depends on the type of batting you’re using. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of washing batting before quilting so you can decide what’s best for your project.

Washing Batting Before Quilting: The Pros One of the main reasons to wash your batting before quilting is to preshrink it. This is especially important if you’re using cotton batting, as it can shrink quite a bit when washed.

Washing your batting ahead of time will help ensure that your finished quilt doesn’t end up being smaller than expected. Another benefit of washing your batting before quilting is that it can help remove any unwanted chemicals or finishes that may be on the fabric. If you’re using recycled batting, for example, washing it first can help remove any oils or other residues that may be on the fabric.

This will also help ensure that your finished quilt doesn’t end up with any unwanted smells. Washing Batting Before Quilting: The Cons One downside to washing your batting before quilting is that it can make the fabric more difficult to work with.

Cotton batting, in particular, can become very stiff after washing and may be harder to maneuver through your sewing machine. If you’re concerned about this, try test-washing a small piece of cotton batting first to see how it responds before washing an entire piece. another potential downside to washing your batting before quilting is that it could affect the color of your fabric .

If you’re using white or off-white cotton , for example , there’s a chance that it could yellow slightly after being washed . To avoid this , try soaking your cotton in vinegar for 10 minutes before rinsing and laundering as usual .


What Happens If You Don’t Wash Fabric before Sewing?

Ans: If you don’t wash fabric before sewing, it can shrink or the color can bleed. This is especially important to do with new fabrics, as they may have finishes that need to be removed. Washing also helps to preshrink the fabric so that it doesn’t shrink later when you wash your finished project.


If you’re wondering whether you need to wash your fabric before quilting, the answer is yes! Washing your fabric will remove any dirt, dust, or oils that may be on the fabric. It will also shrink the fabric so that it’s the correct size for your quilt.

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