How Do I Care for Vintage Bedspreads?

Andrea Cross

Vintage bedspreads have enjoyed a popular resurgence and are highly sought after. These bedspreads should only be used as decorative items due to the fragility of the fabric. As the fabric is often quite delicate, bedspreads must be cared for in a more particular way than normal bedspreads. You must carry out stain removal, damage repair, and washing, as well as drying and storing, with special attention.

Vintage chenille bedspreads should never be dried in a dryer.
Vintage chenille bedspreads should never be dried in a dryer.

When removing stains from vintage bedspreads, you can apply normal stain removers, but these should be diluted at first to test how they will affect the fabric. For stains that are particularly difficult to remove from a white bedspread, dab a small amount of hydrogen peroxide onto the stain before washing the fabric. Likewise, if the fabric is white, you can gently bleach it to remove stains. Test a small area of the fabric before you apply any stain remover.

If fabric is white, bleach can be used to remove stains.
If fabric is white, bleach can be used to remove stains.

When your vintage bedspread is damaged, you should fix it as soon as the damage appears and before the spread is washed, otherwise the damage can increase. If some of the fabric needs to be replaced, such as in a vintage quilt, you can find replacement fabric in shops that specialize in vintage fabric. Restoration services are also available if you do not feel confident about repairing the damage yourself.

It is often recommended that you dry-clean vintage bedspreads, but this can be quite expensive, and often the chemicals, unless those used are specially intended for vintage fabrics, can damage the spread. Vintage quilts especially should not be dry-cleaned. Hand washing is the best way to clean older fabrics as washing machines can often cause damage even on the more gentle cycles. Before washing, test the color fastness of the fabric to make sure the colors will not bleed. If the vintage bedspread is dusty, place a nylon stocking over the end of your vacuum and gently apply it to the fabric.

To clean vintage bedspreads, fill your bathtub or a large basin with water, distilled if possible. Pour in the normal amount of detergent and some vinegar. Allow the blanket to soak for at least half an hour. The vinegar helps to both brighten the fabric and act as a softener. Once the fabric has soaked, rub any stained areas to assist stain removal, and rinse the fabric well.

Never dry vintage bedspreads in the dryer. If it is a light fabric like chenille, roll the bedspread gently in towels to squeeze out the excess water and then hang to allow it to dry naturally. A heavier bedspread such as a quilt is too heavy to hang, so dry it by laying it flat on a sheet or some towels, either inside or outside the house. Make sure that the bedspread is completely dry before you store it, otherwise mold can develop.

To store your bedspread, it is best to first wrap the fabric in acid-free tissue paper to help prevent creases. You can then fold the bedspread and place it in a cotton or muslin bag to help keep it dry and away from the fading effects of light. Store in a relatively temperature-consistent area, and take it out periodically to both air it and to check for any damage such as that caused by moths.

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