Causes of Damage
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Causes of Damage

The main causes of damage to church textiles are:

  • Wear and tear: it is good to keep church items in regular use. However the most delicate items may need to be stored away carefully and brought out only on special occasions.
  • Direct sunlight will fade and weaken most fibres.
  • Dust and dirt is not only unsightly, but can contain damaging pollutants from the atmosphere.
  • Insects, particularly moths, will chew holes in textiles and cause them to disintegrate. They are attracted by dirty textiles, particularly wool.
  • High relative humidity: warm, damp conditions encourage mould, and a sudden drop in temperature will cause condensation and water damage.
  • Water damage can mark and distort fabrics and can cause colours to run.
  • Inadequate storage may result in permanent creasing and crushing as well as many of the above problems.
  • Inadequate display cases may accumulate condensation.
  • Inappropriate repairs can weaken the original material.
  • Inappropriate alterations, particularly of clothing, may have diminished its historical significance.
  • Inappropriate cleaning and handling can damage fragile historic textiles.