Preservation Week: Tips for preserving textiles

Caring for textiles:

  • Store them in an environment where you are comfortable being. Basements can be damp and lead to mold.
  • Box or roll and cover textiles to prevent damage from dust and light. Inspect regularly for insects.
  • Display dyed textiles away from direct light to minimize fading.
  • Hang historic clothing on well-padded hangers and cover with plain cotton.
  • Do not fold if you don’t have to. If you have to, pad folds with tissue. Your choice of tissue depends on the fiber content of the textile: for wool, silk, fur, and other protein fibers or when fiber content is mixed or unknown, use acid free (unbuffered or neutral, pH 6-7); for cotton, linen, jute, flax, bast and other cellulose fibers, use buffered (pH 7-9.5).

For more information:

The Textile Museum 
Guidelines for the Care of Textiles including storing oriental carpets, a hanging system for textiles, and a pest chart

The Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford Museum
Extensive resources on the preservation and care of antique textiles and costumes by Mary M. Fahey, Chief Conservator

Image: Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armoury) / Göran Schmidt / CC BY-SA [CC BY-SA 3.0 or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons