Can You Wash a T-shirt Quilt? — And How To Do It Safely
Aug 29, 2022
If you’re the proud owner of a T-shirt quilt, whether you made your own t-shirt quilt or entrusted the project to our experienced team at Project Repat, you know that it’s filled from top to bottom with memories. As such, you’re probably afraid of dumping your quilt in the wash even when laundry day rolls around. Not to worry — in this post, we’ll answer the burning question “Can you wash a T-shirt quilt?” and teach you everything you need to know about how to wash one correctly.
At Project Repat, we’re experts in the T-shirt quilt game. We’re the most established T-shirt quilt company in the U.S. with years of experience under our belts, which means there’s no better option for anyone wondering where to get a T-shirt quilt made. We’ve made over 500,000 T-shirt quilts, and you can trust that we know how to preserve a T-shirt quilt for the long run.
So, let’s jump right into the question at hand today: can you wash a T-shirt quilt?
Can You Wash a T-shirt Quilt?
Yes, you can! Think about it, haven’t you washed your T-shirts before? How about your blankets? In essence, a T-shirt quilt is the grand union of a bunch of T-shirts, a backing material that forms the “blanket” side, and the batting, or stuffing, in between them.
Individually, all these materials are washable, so putting them together doesn’t necessarily affect their washability. However, it’s important to note that joining them together does present a few complications, which is why it's important to know how to wash a T-shirt quilt.
Why Learning How To Wash a T-shirt Quilt Correctly Is So Important
Your T-shirt quilt is made up of many different T-shirts, with the exact number of t-shirts for a quilt depending on how big it is. Chances are, each of these T-shirts went through different levels of care throughout their lives. Washing your T-shirt quilt correctly is important for preserving it in the long run. Here are some reasons you need to learn how to wash a T-shirt quilt correctly:
- The shirts may be made of different materials — At Project Repat, we can incorporate not only cotton T-shirts but also sweatshirts, polos, tech fabric, fleece, flannel, scrubs, and more. While our equipment doesn’t allow us to work with fabrics like denim, silk, leather, heavy knits, wool, and a few others, nothing’s stopping you from using them in a handmade quilt. Just keep in mind that different fabrics have different best practices when it comes to laundry. If you want to use special materials, you have to follow the care instructions for those materials
- Mitigate color bleeding or fading — Ever leave a red sock in a load full of white clothes? The same effect could happen if either your T-shirts or quilt backing aren’t color-fast, leading to color leaching out and tinting other fabrics. If you’re wary about bleeding or fading, you can soak it in white vinegar before washing or add color-catcher sheets during the wash cycle to trap extra dye.
- You paid good money (or put in good effort) for your quilt — Even on the most affordable side of the spectrum, T-shirt quilts can cost you a pretty penny. They’re not easy to make, either. Don’t make the mistake of caring for it incorrectly.
How To Wash a T-shirt Quilt for the First Time After Getting It
The first time you wash your T-shirt quilt, make sure to give it an all-over inspection first. Check for any stray thread and clip them close to the fabric, so they don’t catch on anything while washing. You can machine wash your T-shirt quilt on a gentle cycle with cold or lukewarm water. Use a mild detergent and don’t use bleach.
It’s best to wash your quilt in a washing machine that doesn’t have a center agitator, as it can end up pulling on and twisting the stitching and the quilt. In addition, make sure your washing machine can actually fit your quilt — if it has a smaller drum, don’t stuff it to the brim with a full queen-size quilt. This can damage the machine and your quilt won’t even get properly cleaned. Instead, head over to the nearest laundromat. They typically have bigger, high-capacity drums.
After washing, you can either hang dry or tumble dry on low. If you’re tumble drying, consider taking out your quilt in the middle of the cycle and rearranging it to ensure the entire surface gets dried out properly.
Generally, the first time a fabric is washed, it’ll shrink. At Project Repat, we always pre-wash our high-quality backing materials, so you don’t have to worry about shrinkage from one of our quilts. However, if your quilt is handmade (or it’s a gift and you don’t know where it’s from), you should anticipate a bit of shrinkage. If you see a tag on it that says “dry-clean only,” it likely hasn’t been pre-washed.
Shrinkage can make for an unpleasantly lumpy quilt — the backing material shrinks and the T-shirt side doesn’t, so the batting trapped in between will be compressed in the smaller space. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do once your quilt has shrunk.
How To Wash a T-shirt Quilt Routinely
The same instructions apply for washing your T-shirt quilt routinely:
- Machine wash your quilt on a gentle cycle, ideally with cold water.
- Use a mild detergent and stay away from the bleach.
- Use a washing machine without a center agitator, as well as a washing machine that’s big enough to comfortably accommodate your entire quilt.
- Dry it by hanging it outside in warm weather or tumble dry on your machine, taking it out in the middle to rearrange and ensure that the whole quilt is drying evenly.
From time to time, it’s a good idea to inspect your quilt for minor problems like small holes or seams coming loose. Patching these before you put your quilt through the wash will prevent the problem from worsening.
Other Tips for Caring for Your T-shirt Quilt
Before we finish, here are a few more tips for making sure your T-shirt quilt lasts a lifetime:
- Quilts are more delicate than regular sheets and blankets, so wash them as infrequently as possible. At a bare minimum, you should wash it at least twice a year, but you can also do it every few months. Of course, if you have pets that frequently sleep on your quilt, it’s okay to wash it a bit more often.
- Air out your quilt regularly, preferably outdoors. This helps keep it fresh even without washing it frequently.
- When not in use, store it in a cotton bag (or a cotton pillowcase) and keep it in a dark, dry place. Avoid putting it in a plastic bag or storing it in a damp location (e.g. a musty closet) to prevent mold and mildew from growing. Don’t expose it to direct sunlight to minimize fading. Lastly, don’t store it directly on a wooden surface, as it can cause brown spots on your quilt.
- While in storage, take it out at least once a month and re-fold it in a different direction. This will help prevent the quilt from forming creases or becoming misshapen.
Final Thoughts on How To Wash a T-shirt Quilt
The next time someone asks you, “Can you wash a T-shirt quilt?,” you can now give a resounding, enthusiastic “yes.” You can easily wash a T-shirt quilt as long as you exercise proper caution — machine wash with cold water on a gentle cycle, don’t use bleach, don’t overcrowd the washing machine, and either hang dry or tumble dry low.
Now, if you’re looking to get your own quilt made, stick with the #1 custom T-shirt quilt company online. Flip through our testimonials for a peek at what your T-shirt quilt could look like when you entrust your memories to us — we work hard to give our customers exactly what they want. Get your own memory blanket today!