CARE AND CLEANING OF YOUR TAPESTRIES

Spring cleaning time! You’re getting all your upholstery and carpets cleaned, so you’re thinking – maybe I should throw in that gorgeous wall tapestry that has been hanging on my wall for several years. STOP! Before you do anything and pay the price of oh, soooo many innocent tapestry lovers that call us weeping – their dry cleaners destroyed their wall hanging tapestry, lets take a look at what really needs to be done.

First, ask yourself the question – does your tapestry wall hanging really need cleaning? Tapestries hanging in our homes today are hung on drywall (not damp castle walls). Since our environments today are clean, dry, heated and moisture free, but not dust free, the wall tapestries probably just needs a good dusting. So get out that vacuum cleaner, put the nozzle on it and give that wall tapestry a good dust cleaning along the top of the tapestry (where most of dust settles) and the face of the wall hanging tapestry.

Now, if you still feel, you really need to get the woven tapestry cleaned, let’s look at your options.

Tapestries from Europe are usually woven on jacquard looms in cotton, wool or a combination of cotton/wool/polyester. These reproduction wall tapestries are either French tapestries or Italian tapestries in origin and should NEVER BE DRY CLEANED. The weave in them is an intricate balance of warp and weft threads, specially woven on old reproduction jacquard looms and the dry cleaning solutions used today would destroy the fibers and dissolve the weave.

Hand woven tapestries woven in 100% wool also should NEVER BE DRY CLEANED! These woven tapestries should be handled with care. Additionally, steam or moisture will shrink the wool fibers and will render it unrecognizable. Hand woven tapestries also have a warp and weft, all woven individually by hand, and any kind of harsh chemical will destroy the fibers in the hand woven tapestry.

If your tapestry becomes severely soiled through an accident, here is what we at Heirloom European Tapestries recommend:

If you have a hand woven tapestry or a European Tapestry (made in Europe), you may want to take it to a specialty carpet /rug place that specializes in high end rugs, carpet and tapestry cleaning. Look under the yellow pages for your area or Google information under ‘rug cleaning’, ‘Persian rug cleaning’ or call a rug retailer to ask if they clean hand woven carpets (if your tapestry is hand woven), or jacquard woven tapestries. Sometimes a top end upholstery cleaner will also have the knowledge and capability to clean your wall hanging tapestry.

Other wall hangings, known as digital reproduction tapestries created in the USA, are usually made of cotton/polyester or other synthetic fibers. They usually carry a ‘dry cleaning’ label on them. In this case just follow the cleaning instructions.

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