Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Hours and Admissions

Clothing and Textiles


Young girls making quilt, ca. 1935. Photograph Collection. Location no. N4.4 p6, Negative no. 39472

Young girls making quilt, ca. 1935.

  • 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.

Other Resources

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 conservationhelp@mnhs.org.