A handmade cotton quilt can be a pretty precious item in your home. If it was made for you by someone you know like your grandma then it is even more precious. Old quilts can be very delicate and they may deteriorate if you just throw them in the washer. Or a cotton quilt that is filled with wool can shrink and become very wrinkled in the wash. Many quilts are pretty hardy and can handle a tumble in the washing machine and even the dryer.
If you have a very old cotton quilt you do not want to wash it in a washing machine. You may want to take it to a dry cleaner and let the professionals handle it.
If you do not know what the quilt is stuffed with you may not want to take a chance with it and you may want to take it to a professional. I had a quilt that I knew was stuffed with wool but I washed it in my washing machine anyway. The wool shrunk and the quilt turned out very wrinkled. I still use it because I love it but it is flawed.
Usually a cotton quilt is very hardy and you can put it in your washing machine to clean it. Wash the quilt on a cold water wash cycle and you can even put it in a dryer but it is best to let it air dry. To air dry your quilt you can hang it on a clothes line or you can even lay it on a chair to dry. I have even laid a washed quilt on my bed to dry. It was not soaking wet and it did dry.
If your quilt is only dusty and not too dirty, you can just give it a good shake to clean out the dust. You can also hang a dusty quilt on a line and let it air out all day. You can even let it hang out overnight. If it is freezing out then you can hang the quilt out in the cold and it will freeze clean.
A clean quilt is a comfortable quilt. Using a quilt can make it dirty and even if the quilt is on a bed that is not used it can collect dust. Shake out a dusty quilt to clean it or wash a dirty quilt. A handmade quilt is made to last a long time.