Give your heirloom quilts a good airing once a year. Shake and air them on an overcast, dry, and breezy day. Don’t hang quilts over a wire or clothesline but, rather, spread them out on the grass over towels or a mattress pad. Refresh cotton quilts with a spin in the clothes dryer. Use a gentle cycle with no heat.
If a quilt is dusty, vacuum it gently. Secure a piece of nylon net over the head of a hand vacuum or hose attachment tool and let the suction do the work. Avoid any surface abrasion of the quilt.
Dry cleaning is generally not recommended, but may be the only appropriate method for wool or silk quilts if the soil cannot be vacuumed or gently brushed away. Quilt curators and appraisers advise against dry cleaning old quilts, saying the chemicals and agitation are harmful to the old textiles.