4 ways to preserve your textiles

July 29, 2015

Preserving textiles is mostly a matter of storing them properly and protecting them from insects and the sun. Here are some tips on keeping your textiles problem-free.

4 ways to preserve your textiles

1. No plastic, please

  • Never store textiles in airtight containers or plastic bags, which can trap in heat and moisture and result in mould and mildew growths.
  • Some plastics also produce fumes that can hasten disintegration of antique textiles.

2. Keep textiles flat

  • It's best to lay textiles flat when storing them in order to provide even support across the entire fabric and to prevent fibres from breaking.
  • Store textiles in acid-free or polyethylene boxes with lids or on a shelf.
  • Line the box or shelf with a clean, unbleached muslin or acid-free tissue paper.
  • If folding is unavoidable, pad the creases by putting muslin, tissue paper, or polyester batting inside each fold.
  • When folding heavy textiles like quilts, you can place the quilt over a well-washed cotton sheet and fold them together.
  • Wrap the quilt and sheet in a second sheet for added protection.
  • You can also keep quilts folded in white cotton pillowcases.
  • It's best not to stack delicate textiles, because it might harm the fibres.
  • If you need to layer them, however, put the heaviest items on the bottom and separate each piece with a sheet or two of acid-free paper.

3. Cushion a carpet

  • Any antique or high-quality carpet or rug that is still in use or displayed on a floor should rest on top of a well-made underlay.
  • Good underpadding provides protection against insects and prolongs the life of a carpet or rug by cushioning the unevenness of the floor and the weight of furniture.
  • Underlays should be three to six millimetres (1/8 to 1/4 inch) thick and large enough to extend to the edge of a carpet. Never fold or overlap an underlay.
  • Also, don't use a self-adhesive underlay or ones that are made of foam rubber, vinyl, or recycled felt. They will need replacing much sooner than those made of better types of material.

4. Beware of bugs on hanging tapestries

  • Carpets and tapestries that are wall-mounted may be more susceptible to attack by moths and carpet beetles, because it's easier for the pests to get between the material and the lining on its back.
  • Regular inspections and vacuuming will help discourage any infestations.
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