At Modish quilter we strongly believe that quilts are made to be loved and used. When you use your quilts however, they’re likely to collect stains. Knowing how to properly care for your quilt and treat stains on them can help prolong the life of your quilts. So we’re proving you with the knowledge to remove the 4 toughest stains from your quilts.
Some of the most common stains are chocolate, coffee, grass, and blood. You can use your own imagination on all the different ways your quilt can collect these stains. If you have children in the house it won’t take much imagination. They’re always sticky with mystery goo on their hands.
What makes chocolate stain cotton?
What is it about chocolate that makes it hang around on cotton fibers? Well it turns out that chocolate contains two staining elements, tannins and oil. What are tannins you ask? Tannins are a chemical found in many teas, coffee, red wines and you guessed it, chocolate. It’s responsible for adding a rough, almost sandpapery sensation to fruits, berries, spices and more. Tannis and oil require different methods for removing them. This is why it’s so complicated to remove chocolate stains. The secret to removing chocolate stains from your quilts is that it is a multistep process that starts by tackling the tannins.
How to remove chocolate stains
As soon as you find a chocolate stain on your quilt you will want to presoak the stained area in a bowl of cold water mixed with ¼ cup of baking soda. After letting the stained area soak for at least 15 minutes you will want to run it under cold water. This is called flushing out the stain. These steps will help to unbind the tannins from the cotton fibers.
Next you need to tackle the oils in the chocolate. Dish soap is actually really effective at lifting oils from cotton fibers. Our go-to dish soap for hand washing quilts is Palmolive Pure and Clear. It gives peace of mind knowing we’re not rubbing dies into our quilts when we use this dish soap. You will want to be sure to use hot water to lift the oils. Tossing your quilt in the wash with regular laundry detergent would also work for this step. If you don’t prewash all of your fabrics this could be dangerous. Since you’d have to run the wash with hot water you run the risk of shrinking your quilt and an increased risk of colors running.
Removing Coffee Stains from Quilts
If you read above about removing chocolate stains from quilts then you can probably guess why coffee can be a difficult stain to remove. If you’re guessing it’s because it also has tannins you’re correct! Darn you tannins for making all things tasty so hazardous to my beloved quilts.
The beginning steps of removing coffee stains from quilts are the same as you remove chocolate stains. Start by soaking the stained area in a bowl of cold water mixed with ¼ cup of baking soda to help lift the stain. After 15 minutes of soaking you will want to flush out the area under cold water. If the stain is still showing up, use a sponge and rubbing alcohol to blot the area. You don’t need to scrub with the sponge, only blotting. Flush the stained area again and let it dry. Crisis is averted and you can finish drinking what’s left of your now cold coffee.
Why does grass stain cotton?
There’s nothing better than a Saturday afternoon at the park having a picnic lunch with your loved ones. Gathered together, enjoying a meal over a quilt on a sunny afternoon is a great way to make lasting memories. Each time you pull that quilt out again it will remind you of that great day, until that joyous feeling is crushed by the spotting of a grass stain. It’s bound to happen, but it’s not unfixable.
You might be wondering why grass stains are known to linger. Reflecting back to science class you might recall a little thing called chlorophyll. This green pigment that plants use to make their food is also a dye. If you’ve ever had a red fabric bleed in the wash and tried to remove it then you know how difficult removing dye stains can be.
How to remove stuck on grass stains
Now that you know that removing a grass stain from a quilt is the same as removing dye from a quilt you will understand the timing is everything. It’s important to act fast with grass stains and not let them set. Baking Soda is still the magic ingredient to removing this stain, but it will need a little help too.
First, mix 1 ½ cups of cold water with ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide. Then add 1 tablespoon of our trusty baking soda. Gently mix these ingredients together and place the grass stained section of your quilt into the solution to soak for at least 2 hours. Fair warning, you might feel asthough you’re a scientist as you watch the solution begin to buble up on your quilt. Don’t worry, it’s only the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide interacting with each other to lift the grass stain out of the cotton fibers.
After a nice long soak you will want to rinse out the quilt under cold water. Be sure to not use warm water during this process because it will set in any dye that might be left.
Removing Blood Stains from Quilts
If you’ve even hand bound a quilt while being distracted then it’s likely you’ve also accidentally stabbed yourself in the finger while doing it. We can say from experience that there’s nothing more upsetting than getting your own blood on your quilt while placing the last few stitches into it.
The key to getting a blood stain removed from your quilt is to act quickly. Blood is full of proteins. Proteins bind together when exposed to heat. Because of this it sets into cotton quickly. Start by flushing out the stain under running cold water. After you’ve removed as much blood from the cotton fibers as possible, hand wash the quilt under cold water with a sponge and hydrogen peroxide. If there are still signs of the stain you can hand wash with liquid laundry detergent under warm water.
Continue Caring for Your Quilts
It’s important to properly care for our quilts to prolong their life and use. Knowing how to properly remove the 4 toughest stains from your quilts will arm you with the skills to do so. It’s also important to not destroy our quilts in the process of trying to clean them. When using products like hydrogen peroxide to remove stains you might want to test it on a small section of the quilt first. It is a chemical and can act like a bleach.
If you’re interested in learning more about caring for your quilts you can find articles and inspiration inside Issue 5 of Modish Quilter.
If you liked the quilt used in this tutorial you can get the Nouveau Quilt Pattern for FREE in our FREE Mini Issue.