Should I Prewash My Batting?

Ask an Expert Banner NQC

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.

Submitted via email

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?


Related Video: How to Choose the Right Quilt Batting

Do you have a quilting question you’d like answered by an expert? Email your question to or reach out to us on Facebook.

Please note: questions may be edited for clarity and relevance.

  • (will not be published)

12 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

  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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.