Washing Fabric – Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about why we pre-wash our quilt fabric. Today I’m going to show you how I do it. If you look at the photo from yesterday’s post, you’ll see a square gallon jug. That is a jug of Orvus Paste (aka Quilt Soap). It’s a sheep shampoo and I buy mine at Tractor Supply. I’ve used it for years and have been very happy with it. I found an informatinve article at Hart Cottage Quilts.

I use warm water. It doesn’t take much Orvus per washer load. I wet my hand in the washer water and dip it into the jar and scoop a bit out. In reading that article I find I should be wearing gloves. Oh well.

As the washer is filling, I grab my fabric with wet hands. It’s a real hassle to unfold fabric and get it in the washer with dry hands. Wet hands can grasp the fabric better and that saves a lot of time and energy. As my hands get dry, I stick them back in the washer water – with the lid up, my washer won’t agitate. NEVER stick you hands in a moving washer!!!! (See note below.)

Once the washer is done, I pull the fabric out of the washer and put it in the dryer. I cut the tangle of threads free from the fabric. I view this as a cost of doing business – it’s just part of the process. You could get creative and do something with these threads. I know I never will so I throw them away. I’ve tried all sorts of tricks to cut down on the threads and none have worked for me. I’m too lazy to serge or re-cut the edges with a wavy cutter. But that’s me – one of those tricks might work for you.

I dry on warm. Once the fabric is dry I pull it out and fold it. I don’t iron fabric until I’m ready to use it in a quilt.

Now – about that note… When my brother was 4 (I was 8), he had to have surgery. We lived in Oklahoma City and he went to Children’s Hospital there that is affiliated with the University of Oklahoma medical center. I’ll never forget my mom telling me about a much bigger kid (he was 18 I think) who was on the same floor with my brother. He had been doing laundry and he reached into a spinning washer to pull something out. Instead, he lost an arm and they were doing their best to re-attach it. I don’t think any washers then had the switch that is supposed to stop the spinning when the lid is up.

I decided to look to see if I could find a reference to this incident online and I didn’t find one – but I did find a link to this story dated March 25 of this year! It has happened again. And there are links to even more. So, let me stress this again – NEVER reach into a moving washing machine!

I really thought, until today, that all washers came with the safety switch that stopped all spinning when the lid was up. Be aware, as I am now, that they don’t all come with that safety feature.

5 thoughts on “Washing Fabric – Part 2

  1. I thought they all had that stop spinning feature also. Good reminder… love this article can’t wait till the next time I am at a Tractor supply for the Sheep soap, is there a reason you don’t just use a “over the counter” laundry soap?


  2. Over the counter soaps have brighteners and bleaches that I prefer not to use for my quilt fabric. A student with a front loader told me that she still uses Orvus, just in smaller amounts. She mixes it with water and then puts it in the dispenser. To keep your hands wet for unfolding, I’d use a cup or small bowl of water.


  3. You could save those little threads and spread them around your yard. The birds will find some of them and make nests with them. I would spread ALL of them perhaps but some. I put out dryer lint and some clipped threads for the birds. It makes for colorful nests when you can get close enough to check one out.


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