Washing your quilt
First line of defense is not to wash the quilt. In lieu of that, especially those used by children, the following are recommendations for extending the life of your quilt.
For best results, use an unscented, liquid based, color-free detergent to wash your quilt, and refrain from using detergent that contains a fabric softener. Fabric softeners, scents and dyes in regular detergents can damage fibers in the fabric and should be avoided. While most detergents are harmless to cotton, some of the additives found in certain detergents can be harmful if used regularly. Never use bleach on your quilt. This will ruin the color and damage the fibers in the fabric.
Skin sensitive detergents often suit the needs. Here are a few commonly found products and some products specifically used on quilts.
Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin
Dawn Blue Dish Soap
Soak Wash Scentless
Orvus Quilt Soap
Wash in warm water, never hot. Select a delicate warm/cold water wash cycle. If the quilt has colors that may bleed, add a dye trapping sheet, found at most grocery stores;
Shout Color Catcher sheet
Carbon Color Graber
Once the wash cycle is complete, run again on a regular cold/cold water wash cycle, without detergent. This ensures there are no traces of detergent left which may otherwise damage the strands of the fabric.
For most quilts, it is safe to dry the quilt in the dryer on a medium heat cycle.