Whether it's your grandmother's lace tablecloths, a handmade quilt, or vintage napkins, properly storing old and vintage linens requires a bit of planning and care. This is especially true if you will be storing offsite in a rented storage unit at a facility like Arctic Self Storage. The following tips can help you ensure that your linens are safely preserved until you wish to use them next.
Tip #1: Store clean
Any food or organic stains in the linens can attract pests or lead to the degradation of the fibers during storage. Stains can often spread and darken with age, as well. How you clean depends on the age and delicacy of the fabric. Most linens can be spot treated and handwashed with no worries. Older antique linens, especially those of questionable fabric content or with old threads that are more prone to breakage, may require professional cleaning. It's also important to make sure the items are completely dry before storing so you don't end up with mildew.
Tip #2: Skip the starch
Many vintage linens are safe to iron, especially tablecloths, tea towels, and napkins. In fact, storing without wrinkles is a good idea since it ensures that wrinkles don't become permanent. The key is to avoid the starch. Starch can develop into stains or attract pests during a long storage period. Save its use for after the linens are taken out of storage.
Tip #3: Avoid sharp creases
Sharp creases can also be a problem during longterm storage. These creases and folds stress the fabric, which can be especially damaging to older fibers. Instead, fold loosely and roll when possible. This way you won't end up with the worn edges that are common along the fold lines on many older linen pieces.
Tip #4: Store in the proper materials
Your main goal in storage is to prevent moisture and pest damage. Nothing works better than a plastic storage tub for preventing moisture and pests from reaching your linens. As for inside the storage container, wrap any linens with acid-free tissue paper. This allows items to breath without touching one another. This is especially important if you are concerned about dye transfer. You may also want to include a sachet of silica gel crystals, which will absorb any moisture that is trapped within the storage container.
With proper care, vintage linens can be stored safely for years. Talk to a local storage facility for more help.
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