To preserve antique fabric, you should avoid handling it on a regular basis if it is starting to show signs of age. Storing it in a place without excessive humidity, sunlight exposure, or heat can be helpful as well. If a professional recommends washing the fabric, avoid putting a weak item into the washing machine or hanging it.
It is important to know when enough is enough. There may be some items that you have been in the habit of using, such as an afghan draped over a rocking chair. At some point, it may be necessary to stop using these items and to find a safer means of displaying them, or you may need to store them away. Otherwise, you may irreparably damage them.
When storing antique fabric, it is important to store it properly. The proper technique may vary depending on the type of material and the types of protection required. There are some things that are generally accepted as being harmful to antique fabric. Humidity, for example, can be very damaging. Therefore, if you live in an environment where this condition exists, you need to do your best to control it.
Two other environmental factors that you want to moderate are the heat and the sun exposure. You should limit the amount of sunlight exposure because UV rays can damage the color and durability of antique fabric. Heat also encourages accelerated deterioration.
Although you can hold your antique fabric in your hands, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is invincible. Old cloth rarely maintains its original integrity. Once it has aged, if you try to treat it as you would a modern item, you could irreparably damage it. One of the ways that you want to treat the item differently is to refrain from washing it without professional advice.
You may find cleaning products that claim to be safe for antiques or designed for them. Regardless of what the packaging says, do not risk subjecting your cloth to any type of solutions that have not been professionally recommended. Also, make sure that when you get advice, you are doing so from a qualified person. Find out what experience makes him a “professional.” If you trust his credentials, then find out if he has experience with your type of cloth.
When items are showing signs of wear, be sure to treat them with additional care. Even if it is deemed safe for you to wash the antique fabric, do not use a washing machine for weak items, not even on the delicate cycle. The impact of even slight and gentle agitation could reduce the fabric’s durability. Also, during storage, avoid allowing your cloth to hang because this can also place strain on it.