Should I Prewash My Batting?

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Hi, I’m wondering about prewashing quilt batting. I come from the garment school of thought where we prewash everything that is washable. I have been prewashing my batting with a gentle rinse, spin, and then dry, but it doesn’t seem like other quilters do this. Are there any cons to this that I don’t know about? I have only made a few quilts so far, and would like to know of any thoughts on prewashing.

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NQC Answer

The short answer is that you can prewash most batting – but that you don’t actually have to. Modern quilt batting is designed to resist shrinking or to shrink very minimally (and that very shrinkage creates a homey look many quilt enthusiasts enjoy). Batting that is very old, dirty, or that you are making from a recycled blanket will need to be washed before use.

Your batting can be washed if you’ve accidently spilled something on it, stored it somewhere where it picked up an unpleasant odor, or if you are not sure of what it is made of. Quilt batting purchased new and stored correctly generally won’t require washing, but batting that you’ve inherited from another quilter and received without a clear idea of what it is might.

Batting that isn’t really batting at all – old wooly blankets or quilts come to mind – does need to be washed thoroughly to prevent shrinking and the problems associated with it.

We’d love to hear from our readers – have you ever washed batting prior to quilting?



-Samantha




Related Video: How to Choose the Right Quilt Batting

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Discussion
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36 Responses to “Should I Prewash My Batting?”
  1. mary cynova

    I use a polyester batting so I do not have to worry about it shrinking…..maryc

    Reply
    • Ana

      I did not precast the batting but I have considered washing the entire piece once completed. It just seemed appropriate that I’d there was shrinkage, it would do so in unison. Besides, occasionally, tips of the project may have touched th floor. Furthermore, I would like a pleasant scent from the material

      Reply
  2. Colleen Froats

    About pre washing batting– no, I’ve never done it! I’ve read so many posts about it & always thought, {that’s about crazy. Why?} I purchase the batting I feel is the best choice for my current project- there are so many great choices available.

    Reply
  3. jabatrom

    I pre-shrink cotton batting used in table runners. These will inevitably need to be washed (food stains) and I don’t want any bumpy, old fashioned look. I love that look on bed quilts so I usually pre-shrink the material but not the batting.

    Reply
    • Karen W

      I agree about not liking wrinkles in tablerunners, which is why I switched to Pellon Soft Flex, but instead of pre-washing batting to pre-shrink it, I put in the dryer with a moist (not drippy) towel & dry on high heat. That solves the shrinkage issue w/o wasting water & soap. I agree w/ Samantha that it’s normally unnecessary unless it’s soiled or it’s origins are in doubt.

      Reply
      • Paula

        What is pellon soft flex? I can’t find it by that name on Amazon or Google etc. I’d like to try it in my table runners. Thanks

        Reply
        • Customer Service

          Hi Paula,

          Thank you for contacting us. Regarding your question. I’m not sure but let’s see if another member can answer that.

          Sorry for the inconvenience.

          If you have any other concerns, please contact us at 1-855-706-3538, or chat with us on our site.
          We greatly appreciate your business!

          Sincerely,

          Joan
          National Quilters Circle Video Membership

          Reply
  4. Sandy

    I used to always prewash batting when I used Warm and Natural cotton batting. Since I switched to wood, I don’t prewash anymore. I do not want that “cozy old fashioned” shrinkage on my work.

    Reply
    • Thelma

      I went to a quilt show and looked a the beautiful quilts.. They all look like they had never been used, or washed. I washed my quilt and it went 2 inches out of square.

      Reply
      • Nerida

        I had that happen to me as well. My quilt shrunk so much I had to unpick all the quilting and it has languished ever since. Another one was a gift and they tossed it into a childrens toy/dress up box. I begged them to let me fix it but they refused. I preshrunk batting for years after that. These days I dont as so many others including our local quilt shop insist that it is not necessary. I mostly buy a wool/polyester blend these days and o far so good.

        Reply
  5. Sharon

    I had never even entertained the thought of washing batting before putting it in a quilt. I didn’t think it would even hold together. I have put some batting I the dryer to get out wrinkles, but that’s all.

    Reply
  6. Elaine West

    I prewash 100% cotton batting. I put it in the washer with warm water and let it soak. I do NOT let it agitate, pushing the batting down to be covered by the water. It sets for 20 minutes and then I spin it out (delicate cycle). I then pop it into the dryer for 20 minutes. I have steamed the fabric before sewing so it all shrinks at about the same amount and lays flatter.

    Reply
  7. Amy

    I prewash all my fabrics (usually before I put them on the shelf), but have never prewashed batting (I always use either Warm and Nature or Quilter’s Dream). A few minutes in the dry on fluff gets rid of most wrinkles. Since my quilts are intended for use, I wash all of them after I’ve finished to get rid of any stray marks, oils, dog hair, whatever, from the quilting, and to get that nice old-fashioned feeling. This also lets me know that the recipient will not any issues if he/she needs to wash the quilt periodically.

    Reply
  8. Sabrina

    I always pre-soak & hang dry (+ a short time on low heat in the dryer) Warm & Natural batting. Since switching to Warm & Plush, I don’t pre-wash my batting.

    Reply
  9. Kathy Davis

    I have washed my batting as long as their is a scrim. I have a front load washer and I put it through a regular wash and dry it in the dryer with great results. I tried it with batting without scrim and it did not work. It falls apart. I have used Pellon and Warm and Natural with great success. I would recommend that you try it on left over scraps of batting if you are not sure if it will wash ok. I like my quilts to look like they did before washing them, and not have the antique look. Wallhangings I do not bother as they will not be washed like a quilt.

    Reply
  10. Lillian

    Right and wrong side of insulated batting for potholders. Which side I layer on the backing material?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Lillian,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      This is what the manufacture had to say:

      To find the right side of the batting, study the surface carefully. The right side will have more indentations or “dimples” where the manufacturer’s needle-punching machine pressed the fibers together. The wrong side of the batting will typically be rougher, with more small “pills” or balls of batting.

      If you have any other concerns, please contact us at 1-855-706-3538, or chat with us on our site.

      We greatly appreciate your business!

      Sincerely,

      Joan
      National Quilters Circle Video Membership

      Reply
  11. Carol A Schwankl

    I always preshrink my Hobbs 80/20 or any all cotton batting because I have found that it shrinks about 10%. I don’t agitate it….only soak about 30 minutes in quite warm water. Some people like the look of a puckered quilt…I don’t really. No need to soak wool or all poly.

    Reply
  12. Elaine West

    I used the old Warm and Natural which shrinks 3%. I would put some warm water in my washer and soak the batting in it but I did NOT agitate it. Then after 15 minutes of soaking I would spin it out (on gentle cycle) and dry it in the dryer for 15 minutes….(be sure to empty your filter). But this can’t be done with their new batting. I like a smooth look after washing and this gives it. I don’t know what I will do when my roll of the old stuff is gone.

    Reply
  13. Charlene Cairn

    I always preshrink my batting without actually washing it. I normally use cotton or bamboo, and soak it in hand-hot or hotter water until it is cold. I usually use a trug instead of the bath, I don’t have a laundry tub. Then I press out as much water as I can, and hang it on the clothes line over several lines, drooping between, to drip dry. This shrinks it and hopefully takes out any dressing. I don’t like the antique look in my quilts.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Judith,

      Thank you for your patience while I reached out to the expert, here is her response:

      Hi,

      Yes, the same practice can be used when using flannel in your quilt top, however I recommend pre-washing all flannel fabric before using it in a quilt.

      Cheers,
      Ashley

      National Quilters Circle

      Reply
  14. Jeanette

    Just wondering if my quilting fabric should be prewashed before starting my quilt? Thought it might loose some of the sizing by washing first but don’t want it to fade later.

    Reply
  15. Michele

    I always prewash/preshrink cotton and wool batting. Most quilt tops look better without the puckering that happens when you allow the batting to shrink on that first wash…and when it does, all your hard work piecing so carefully looks a mess. Although I’ve just discovered some polyester batting made from recycled water bottles that I don’t think will need preshrinking, and I love the texture of it (as well as the idea of it!) already!

    Reply
  16. Connie Regehr

    I have never washed batting for quilting in my life and will not start wash batting either , I think it pull a part on you if you did

    Reply
  17. Karen

    I used to soak warm and natural in the kitchen sink…the water always turned yellow….now I use warm and white and wash/dry in the machine. Fluffs it right up.

    Reply
  18. Ivy

    I almost always prewash my batting, which is cotton. The only thing I don’t prewash is the thread. I generally use yardage, too, or fat quarters, as opposed to precuts.

    Reply
  19. Nancy b

    More of a question than a comment… I want to make a quilted tablecloth for my dtr… should I use a thin batting or just put a backing on it? What do you think, I’m just not sure how to move forward with this! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Nancy,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members to our online community. We do have a promotional offer if you are interested. This would include access to expert advice (like this), plus discounts, hours of Premium videos, etc. Please feel free to take a look. You can email us right back with your question if you decide to become a member and you will have a response within 1-2 business days from our experts!

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      We greatly appreciate your business!

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      Joan
      National Quilters Circle Video Membership

      Reply
  20. Sharron Caci

    I’m looking for the thickest batting possibly..I make pet bed….please tell me what to look for. Some batting is really good and others are just flat. Thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Sharon,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members to our online community. We do have a promotional offer if you are interested. This would include access to expert advice (like this), plus discounts, hours of Premium videos, etc. Please feel free to take a look. You can email us right back with your question if you decide to become a member and you will have a response within 1-2 business days from our experts!

      Please follow the steps below to receive the annual membership at the introductory rate:

      1. Click on the email link: https://go.nationalquilterscircle.com/c18440
      2. Click on the Premium Membership offer.
      3. The Checkout page will display your Premium Membership purchase.
      4. Fill in your Billing Details and create an account password.
      5. Fill in your debit/credit card information.
      6. Finish by clicking Complete Order.

      If you have any further questions, please contact Customer Service at 1-855-706-3538, at your earliest convenience, or chat with us on our site.

      We greatly appreciate your business!

      Sincerely,

      Joan
      National Quilters Circle Video Membership

      Reply
  21. Lorraine Wilson

    I don’t pre-wash it, but I do spritz it with water to dampen & then run through the drier. It preshrinks & removes wrinkles, which works for me!

    Reply
  22. Gerd Irene Velle

    I have NEWER washed my batting, but I am ALWAYS washing all Fabrics in Yardage. I don`t want my Fabric to ” bleed” or shrink after it is a finished product.

    Reply
  23. Jean Stocks

    I use Hobbs 80/20 wadding on most quilts, apart from Linus when I use polyester, and the package advice is to wash before use. I am really glad I took their advice as a lot of the yellowy colour leaches from it, however, I haven’t noticed any shrinkage.

    Reply