Rolled storage is the best way to store rugs. You never want to fold them, as that can cause permanent creases. Folding also can cause the rug to become brittle and break.
In rolled storage, rugs are rolled around a tube. There are two types of tubes -- acid-free, archival tubes and cardboard tubes. Keep the rug as straight as possible when you roll it.
If you need help starting the rolling, use a piece of cotton or muslin that is the same width as the rug. It should be long enough to wrap completely around the tube and have an extra 2 feet. Roll the cotton or muslin onto the roller and lay the rug onto the extra 2 feet. As you roll, the extra 2 feet of cotton or muslin will grab the rug and let you roll the rug smoothly.
If you use a cardboard tube, be sure to pad it with acid-free tissue paper. An outer layer of cotton muslin also will act as a dust cover. Be sure to wrap it around the textile about 1 ½ times, and that the muslin is wide enough that you can tuck it into the ends of the tube. Securely tie it with either cotton or polyester twill tape or by making ties from muslin or cotton sheeting. If you make ties, be aware that 2-3 ties are needed to keep the rug rolled and the cover securely in place.
Some museums use polyethylene rather than muslin. The advantage of polyethylene is that it can help protect rugs from insect infestation if it is securely tied. It can also protect rugs from water damage.
Storage locations should be clean and dark, with a relatively even temperature if possible. Attics, basements, and closets on exterior walls are poor choices for storage. Attic temperatures can be too warm; basements can be cold and are prone to moisture, flooding, and mildew; and closets on the exterior walls do not have even temperatures. Damage from light exposure can occur in a short amount of time and is irreversible.
Once packaged, rugs should be stored on rust-free metal shelves or in drawers. In order to avoid indentations from the shelves, pad the shelves with a cushioning material such as bubble-wrap before placing your tube on it.
If you wish to store them in wooden drawers or on wooden shelves, you must first seal the wood with a water-borne polyurethane varnish and place some acid-free tissue between the wood and your tube. That ensures that acids won't transfer from the wood to your textile.
If you plan to store your rug for a long time, be sure to wash the cover every few years so dust and dirt don't build up. It is also important to check it for damage from insects such as moths and carpet beetles.
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