Should I Start Prewashing My Fabric?

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I have figured out that quilters seem to have strong opinions about prewashing or not. It just made me wonder, if you always feel the need to prewash, does that mean you never use precuts? If you do use them without problems, then doesn’t that negate the reason for prewash. I don’t prewash, but have never used a dark color I thought might bleed. I’m just trying to figure out if I need to start prewashing.

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Yes, you are correct in that the debate over whether to prewash or not is a hotly debated topic. That being said- I am in the category of people who do not always prewash fabric. However, in terms of those that do prewash, there are some that are dedicated enough to it that they do prewash precut fabric. This is very time consuming as pressing all of the small squares and strips is a process. Also, prewashing precut fabric means that they can potentially shrink- making them not the same size as they were when first purchased.

In terms of whether or not you should start prewashing- I would recommend, if you are using a fabric color that you are afraid might bleed, cut a small square from the fabric and place it in warm to hot water. If it bleeds, definitely prewash, if not you should be ok.

Hope this helps,

Quilters Guide to Preshrinking
How to Prevent Fabric Bleed
Quilt Care Part 1: Cleaning Heirloom Quilts

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12 Responses to “Should I Start Prewashing My Fabric?”
  1. sonia bermudez

    Why the fabrics can not be pre wash before they sell it? When or if buy fabric allway has to buy more just in case it shrink i dont think its ok

  2. Shirley Fortner

    Thanks I usually prewash unless it is precut, just needed to know for sure which one is best to do .

  3. Pat

    I always pre-wash. I never have a problem with dye running or shrinkage. I know people who did not pre-wash and had shrinkage problems when the item was washed.

    • Tanya Ehrsam

      I was taught to prewash. I worry like the dickens if I’m at a quilt retreat and don’t prewash. I prewash fat quarters…you have to press them at some time anyways. It only takes a minute. I do not generally prewash pre-cuts, but I use them usually with like colors in tote bags. I make my own squares out of yardage or fat quarters, because I don’t always need five inch squares and there’s a lot of waste with charm packs. I’m not big on using strips or mini-charms. But I’ve read enough stories of bleeds and shrinkage from not pre-washing that I’m a life time pre-washer. if this hasn’t convinced you, even if the fabric were washed before it left the factory(there are no hypoallergenic soaps) how many hands touch it? How many people sneeze near it? And since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, why risk it? Color catchers are just an added expense…you could get more fabric for that price, but the laundry soap is already there, hopefully.

  4. pkstros

    I’m new to National Quilting as well as relative new to quilting. I’d like to look up “how tos” when I come across a problem/answer as to where I look up the information.

  5. Mary Talcott

    I only prewash if I want to make sure the fabric won’t bleed, I like the krinkle of the fabric after the quilt is made.

  6. Cathy

    I’m new to quilting. The batting i bought said to wet it and let it dry. What is the purpose and is it necessary?

    • Customer Service

      Dear Cathy,

      Thank you for your patience while I got you the answer:


      This could be to simply flatten out the batting before using, however I am not familiar with this technique. I would recommend reaching out to the batting manufacturer to see if they have tips or instructions on why this should be done.


      National Quilters Circle

  7. Agnes

    You do not allow me to unsubscribe from your site. I am not a quilter and have tried many times but keep getting your email soooo please remove me immediately.

    • Customer Service

      Hi Agnes. Your information has been updated. I have removed your email address from our E-Newsletter mailing list. Please allow up to 5 business days for your request to be completed.
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