Should I Prewash My Batting?

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NQC Question

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?


Related Video: How to Choose the Right Quilt Batting

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44 Responses to “Should I Prewash My Batting?”

  1. Charlene Cairn

    I don't exactly wash batting but I do soak it in hot water to pre-shrink it. I don't much like the so-called "antique" look that shrinkage produces, if my quilts live long enough to become antique that's fine but while they're new I like them to look that way. I also pre-treat my fabric to avoid shrinkage and colour run, and I wash my quilts once they're finished.

  2. Caryn Vavrick

    I, like others , like the puffy comfy look. If I’m using flannel as a batting, I pre wash.

  3. Diana Valle

    When I made quilts long time ago I bought thin blankets + used instead of batting! It worked but don't no if find same blankets as cheap. All so expensive these day! I've been appliques my jeans now. 1 pair I sewed hearts w word Love in English, Spanish + French. I'll sew Italian when I find out how to spell it + sew a heart below word.

  4. Linda K Letourneau

    I do not wash my batting nor do I wash my fabric. I buy good quality fabric. If it’s not of quality then I would wash it.

  5. Karen

    I always pre rinse in the kitchen sink, yellow dye comes out of some of the ‘ natural’ battings. I then damp dry. The washer and dry in the dryer. Never had a problem doing this. I have used Cotten and poly and mixtures.

  6. Marcia Stewart

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  7. Dan

    I've learned my lesson. I will always prewash my batting for quilts. I use Hobbs 80/20 and warm and natural. I fill tub with a few inches of warm water and 1/4 cup liquid gentle detergent. Soak batting. You will be SHOCKED at the color of the water after washing "clean" batting right off the bolt. I suspect its all the chemicals and sizing used. After rinsing well, I gently lift the batting out of the water and squeeze (NOT Twist!) any excess water. I then roll the batting in towels and absorb the remainder of the water. The batting will be damp but not dripping. I then dry in my dryer on normal heat. Remove promptly. The batting comes out wonderfully fluffy and soft with no creases or wrinkles. I allow extra 5% of batting for shrinkage. Sandwiches on my longarm beautifully and quilts like a dream. Every client I do this for is thrilled with the results of the final quilting. Happy Quilting!

  8. Karen mumford

    What about pre washing fabric? I here mix thoughts on this.

  9. Linda

    I would like to make a pieced and quilted tablecloth what is recommended for a batting?

  10. Brenda Peck

    I don't prewash my batting, but I will toss it in the dryer for about 20 minutes to get the wrinkles out when I take it out of the package. I have a setting on my dryer that's a "tumble press," it's the last 20 minutes of the permanent press cycle so it's low heat.