Preservation of Uniforms - Printable Version

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Preservation of Uniforms - Custermen - 03-23-2005


I would like to suggest that this Preservation Menu be expanded to include room for more topics. See if this will do.


I have several old WW2 uniforms in my collection that I would like to not only preserve but to freshen up a bit. Some are in great shape and condition. Others are limp from being stored in a foot locker. One is soiled.

I've taken the worst one to a local cleaner and inquired about dry cleaning it. It is made of a gabardine material. He wouldn't touch it. The cleaner was concerned that the seams would rip open after 65 years.

Who do you contact about cleaning an ole uniform?

Is there something I could soak a uniform in to relase the dirt and hand wash it?

What would work for wool uniforms?



Preservation of Uniforms - Walt's Daughter - 03-23-2005

Oh yes, this can be expanded by any means!


Good question! Hopefully someone will jump in and help you out. I will see what I can find too.

Preservation of Uniforms - Walt's Daughter - 03-24-2005

I would like to suggest that this Preservation Menu be expanded to include room for more topics.


I hope you don't think it was limited in the first place, it is a completely open topic as the title and subtitle suggested.



Tips and helpful hints on how to preserve and care for your old photos, manuscripts, letters and more.



Preservation of Uniforms - Custermen - 03-24-2005

Ahh. Yes. Now that sounds all-encompasing.



Preservation of Uniforms - Walt's Daughter - 03-26-2005

Okay, I hesitated to answer at first, but I guess my first hunch was correct; cold water, woolite! I confirmed this by conferring with some of my reenactment buddies. This is what they have to say.


Wash your wools in Woolite. You can either wash by hand or the gentle cycle in your washer. Use COLD water. If you do wash it in the machine, use an extra spin at the end of the cycle to get out the most water you can, then hang dry. A lot of the guys then hang them outside if possible.


They are saying that you might get some shrinkage, but that is to be expected.


They say most cleaners won't touch old uniforms (as you stated) because of the liability. You can see why. Some will do it, but only after you sign a waiver.


Hope that helps ya.

Preservation of Uniforms - Custermen - 03-26-2005

most cleaners won't touch old uniforms (as you stated) because of the liab

I was going to make a few calls to some local musuems and see if they have a special shop that will do this. Someone a little more experienced than an average Laundry.

I also have a cotton flag that has some moth holes and would like to restore it if it doesn't cost an arm & a leg. I have plans to sell it or display it at a museum.



Preservation of Uniforms - Walt's Daughter - 03-26-2005

That's an excellent idea. I know some of the guys who are really into this, won't even clean their uniforms. Ah, a matter of choice!

Preservation of Uniforms - alkincer - 07-27-2005

I have a couple of swastiki flags. Any suggestions as to preservation. AL

Preservation of Uniforms - Walt's Daughter - 07-27-2005

Do you know what they are made of? I presume cotton?

Preservation of Uniforms - Walt's Daughter - 08-03-2005



Store the flag you want to preserve in a dark place. Bright light, especially sunlight, causes fading and deterioration of fabrics. Avoid very humid places and rooms where temperatures vary a great deal.

Store your flag where you have sufficient access to inspect it for pest or mildew damage at least once a year. Garages, basements, and attics are probably the worst places to store textiles because these risks are high.

The crisp “official†fold is appropriate for a flag in regular use, but prolonged storage will lead to permanent creases. If you don’t have room to store the flag flat, there are some options. One is to use acid-free tissue paper, or clean, unbleached cotton cloth to fill out the folds. Another alternative is to roll the flag on a tube of acid-free material; do not use cardboard or wood, both of which are likely to be acidic.

In fact, it is important to avoid storing your flag in contact with wood. Be sure to line the storage drawer with a polyester film or other inert material, or wrap the rolled-up flag in a cover of unbleached cotton or some other acid-neutral material. Don’t use pesticides or mothballs. They contain chemicals that are harmful to fabrics.




Minimize washing or cleaning flags or other textiles you want to keep. If your flag is very old, more than 30 years, you should not wash or dry clean it except with the advice of a professional conservator.

The only appropriate cleaning method for old flags is vacuuming gently (on low suction) using a brush attachment covered by a clean piece of cheesecloth. It is best not to contact the flag with a brush that has been used for other cleaning, and the cheesecloth will prevent tears and snags. Vacuum a fabric by gently patting the surface as if you were blotting it.

New flags should be clean when they are stored. Depending on the type of material, the flag can be washed gently by hand using a mild soap.