- Display textiles in low light. Avoid direct sun and fluorescent light.
- Display textiles for limited periods of time to reduce damage from exposure to excessive amounts of light. Put items on display for a while and then replace with other items.
- Framed textiles, such as samplers, may benefit from having ultraviolet light-filtering glass installed.
- Do not allow the textile to touch the glass; use spacer in the frame rabbet or a window mat.
- Store fabric where temperature and humidity are moderate and consistent; avoid attics and basements.
- Store folded textiles with as few folds and creases as possible.
- Use acid-free boxes with acid-free tissue or white bed sheets tucked in the folds to prevent sharp creases.
- When hanging clothing, use padded hangers to prevent creases and stress to the shoulders. The hanger should be no wider than the width of the garment at the shoulders.
- Large flat textiles like flags and shawls can be rolled onto tubes. A large-diameter tube is best. If using an acidic cardboard tube, cover it with layers of acid-free paper, cotton sheets or cotton muslin.
- Inspect stored materials periodically for insect damage. Do not use mothballs, which are not effective as a repellent and are a suspected carcinogen. Non-toxic "sticky" traps placed along baseboards are an effective way of limiting insects. A large number of insects in a trap will alert you to a problem and the source or cause can then be investigated. Prevention is much better than application of pesticides after damage has already occurred.
- Textiles and clothing benefit from being vacuumed periodically to remove dust. Use the bristled, round furniture brush on low suction. Vacuuming through a clean piece of nonmetallic window screen will keep delicate fabric and loose threads from being pulled into the vacuum.
- Some textiles, such as white cotton or linen clothing, may be washed or cleaned. Contact the Minnesota Historical Society conservation department or a local museum for advice before attempting to wash.
- Dry cleaning antique clothing and other textiles is usually not recommended. Commercial dry cleaning uses strong solvents, heat and a lot of hard tumbling or mechanical action. If you think that a textile needs to be dry cleaned, contact the Minnesota Historical Society conservation department or a local museum for advice.
- Advice for Framing Textiles MHS Conservation Tips (pdf)
- Dry Cleaning Museum Textiles NPS Conserve O Gram 16/2 (pdf)
- Preserving Historic Quilts Minnesota History Interpreter Tech Talk, September 1997 (pdf)
- Mounting Flat Textiles on a Fabric-Covered Board for Framing MHS Conservation Tips, November 2000 (pdf)
- Cleaning and storing a wedding dress MHS Conservation Tips
This handout is being distributed by the Conservation Outreach Program of the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) as a public service. The distribution of this handout does not constitute a recommendation by MHS of any specific vendor or their products, nor will MHS assume liability for products supplied by a vendor. Each application must be evaluated individually and materials selected that best suit the condition of the object and how it is to be used. If you have questions about a particular application, treatment, or service, please contact the MHS Conservation Outreach program at: 651-259-3465, 1-800-657-3773, FAX at 651-296-9961 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.