First of all, I would like to note that all of the quilts I make ("my quilts") are 100% cotton, or very close to 100% cotton. This includes batting. I use good quality cloth and thread. Don't try this method on any other quilt, or I do not guarantee the results. This is not the "accepted" method of quilt cleaning. The "accepted" method involves expensive soap and the antiquated practices. For more information on this "accepted method," contact another quilting page (links are elsewhere.).
For detergent use one of the "free" forms on the market - Tide Free, Cheer Free, etc. - in a liquid form. The dyes and perfumes in a regular detergent will hasten the breaking down of color and fiber of the fabric. The liquid will dilute more quickly and completely into the water than a powder will. Do not use fabric softener.
Set the washer to a warm/cold regular cycle and fill the washer with water; pour in the amount of detergent recommended by the manufacturer. When the washer is full, put the quilt in, squushying it around to get it all soaked in the water. Let the cycle run. Without bothering to remove the quilt (but if you want to take it out and wave it over your head a few times, go ahead), re-run the machine on a cold/cold regular cycle. This takes the place of the fabric softener in removing all excess detergent. To dry, you can use any cycle you like - I like the regular hot one for towels and all.
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