Find a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and fluorescent lighting for storing your quilts. The ultraviolet radiation in both daylight and fluorescent lights causes dyes to fade and fibers to become brittle. Refolding and rotating your quilts seasonally helps protect them from light damage.
Avoid attics, garages, damp basements, and other locations where quilts are exposed to high temperatures, high humidity, and stagnant air. Heat and/or humidity, and lack of ventilation set up the right environment for mold and mildew.
If you put your quilts away, avoid storing quilts directly on wooden shelves or in cardboard containers with gift-wrap-type tissue paper. Untreated wood and paper cause the yellow and brown spots seen on many old quilts. Instead, roll cotton quilts (rather than folding) with acid-free tissue paper between the layers. Or, use polyester batting to cushion folds. To prevent permanent creases, regularly refold the quilts in a different way, then reroll them. Place rolled quilts inside cotton pillowcases or sheets to protect against light, dust, and contact with acidic materials. Do not use plastic bags as these tend to retain moisture and encourage mildew growth. If you need to store quilts on wooden shelves, place them in cotton pillowcases first. Then, use a layer of muslin or even aluminum foil to create a barrier between the wood and the pillowcase.
Evaluate antique quilts individually before attempting to clean them. Improper cleaning can damage a quilt. If a quilt has sentimental or monetary value, consult an expert before attempting to clean it. Contact a quilt museum, university textile department, or antique expert for references.