Proper Care And Storage Of Antique Linens

Be sure to store your linens right

Collecting linen garments and textiles requires proper storage. Think of Egyptian tombs which kept linens in amazing condition for literally thousands of years due to their cool, dry environments.

A blanket chest is an excellent place to store linens, keeping them folded as little as possible. While linen is not eaten by mice and other vermin, they do like to chew it up for nesting material.

We have had some beautiful old examples chewed apart before learning to put moth balls or flakes in with the linens as the smell keeps vermin away.

We have also heard of novice collectors who decided to keep some beautiful old linens in plastic bags, only to find months later that the linens were rotting and mildewed from dampness trapped in the plastic bags. Remember the admonition in Leviticus to destroy all mildewed linen.

Light is the #1 enemy for any kind of textile

While sunlight may not greatly affect plain linen, even indirect sunlight can certainly fade the natural dyes used in antique textiles. If one wants the colors in a wool and linen coverlet to remain bright, for example, it should definitely be kept away from windows.

Old linens are sometimes stained with a brownish "rust" which is a naturally-occurring acid and can make the linen brittle. The acid needs to be treated with an alkaline substance such as lye-based fat soap. The lye will remove most of the staining.

 

Laying the piece outdoors in the sun with frequent sprinkling over a period of several days should bleach out the rest.

Source: “Linen From Flax Seed to Woven Cloth”

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