Guidelines for Care | Storing | Hanging | Pests

Pest Busters

This information has been prepared by the Conservation Department of The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C. in hopes of promoting an awareness of common textile pests and their control.

Our guidelines are effective for pest control, but when dealing with rare textiles it is important to consider the condition of the object when deciding on treatment. Be sure to seek professional advice from a conservator.
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Freezing is an effective and safe method of eradicating an insect infestation. The infested textile should be rolled or folded, and then packaged in clean, clear 3-4 mil. weight polyethylene. Remove excess air to prevent risk of condensation in bag, but avoid damaging the textile by compressing it too much. Seal the package with duct tape (other tapes such as masking or packing tape do not hold their seal during the freezing process). Small pieces can be frozen in heavy weight food grade zip-lock bags.

Place the packaged textile in a chest freezer for a minimum of 1 week; most refrigerator freezers do not reach the necessary low temperatures of -4 to -13°F (-20 to -25°C). It is imperative that the freezer not be opened at any time during this process in order to maintain a constant temperature.

After freezing, allow the textile to completely thaw before removing it from the package. Condensation will appear, but only on the outside of the package. Inspect the textile carefully, and if you don’t feel certain everything has been killed, repeat the above procedure. Finally, carefully vacuum the textile to remove frass and insect debris before returning it to display or storage.


GOOD HOUSEKEEPING is essential in preventing any kind of infestation.

PERIODIC INSPECTION of textiles and/or storage areas is necessary for insect control.

SCREEN windows, airducts and chimneys to prevent the entry of flying insects.

PROPER STORAGE facilities include a dry, clean environment.

PROPER AIR CIRCULATION, 45-55% relative humidity, and a temperature of 68-72°F in storage areas will prevent mold and mildew.

For Additional Information:

CCI Notes 3/3, Canadian Conservation Institute (1997). Controlling insect pests with low temperature. Ottawa: CCI

National Pest Control Association

8100 Oak Street
Dunn Loring, VA 22027
(consumer hotline: 2-3 EST, Monday through Friday)

Pest Control Technology
2803 Bridge Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
(journal; technical leaflets)

Entomology Laboratory
Building 046
Beltsville Agricultural Research Center-West
Beltsville, MD 20705
(insect identification)



© 2001 THE TEXTILE MUSEUM, 2320 S Street, NW; Washington, DC 20008

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