When I was a baby and toddler, my great-grandmother knit me some of the most darling dresses, with matching purses and hats. My mother embroidered beautiful things for both my brother and I to wear, too. I am blessed that my mother, being a drycleaner by trade, knew how to clean and store these items so that all of these precious pieces are still in perfect condition, ready to be worn by future generations if desired.
Besides following in my parent’s trade as a drycleaner, I also clean and preserve christening and wedding gowns in my business. Many of the items and processes that we use professionally can also be used by you to safely store your own or your customers’ fabrics and textiles.
Of course, before storing any textile, it must be clean! NEVER put anything away with a stain or odor. These will only worsen over time and may develop into holes in the fabric. Even if you are storing an item that has never been used or worn, give it a gentle cleaning first to remove any sizing from the manufacturer or dust.
Once your item is clean, gently fold it, layering it with acid-free tissue if it is delicate. Next, wrap it in clean, unbleached and undyed cotton. I like to use unbleached cotton muslin, but a white cotton sheet works well, too. This will help protect your item from dust, light, and moisture, three things which pose the greatest threat to items stored long-term. Never hang an item that is going to be stored for more than a season. Also, never wrap an item in plastic. Once your item is folded and wrapped, you can store it in a plastic bin or a light-colored cardboard box, anything that closes tightly to keep little bugs out!
Textiles like to live where we live…no damp basements or hot, humid attics. Inspect your items every 6 to 12 months for moisture, stains, deep-set wrinkles, or bugs. If your items are properly stored as directed above, you should have minimal concerns. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about cleaning or storing textile items.