Q: What do you use to fumigation textiles?
A: MTS uses activated sodium chlorite to create a disinfecting vapor of chlorine dioxide, to which we temporarily expose artifacts such as textiles and clothing. Through the process of oxidation, the vapor breaks the molecular bonds of microbes that grow on organic materials and cause deposits, odor, and discoloration. This poses no harm to either organic or inorganic artworks, including textiles. Items fumigated this way remain more resistant to re-contamination if re-exposed moist and warm conditions.
Q: Where do I bring my items for fumigation?
A: The Museum Textile Services fumigation facility is located in Amesbury, Massachusetts. We are at the intersection of Interstate 95, Interstate 495, and Route 1, near the New Hampshire border. Drop-off and pick-up are by appointment only. Fumigation takes place at the end of every month, or upon special request.
Q: What causes microbial activity?
A: The most common cause for contamination of textiles and other objects with mold, mildew, and fungus is prolonged exposure to high relative humidity and temperatures that cause airborne spores to proliferate. Low light and stagnant air exacerbate this problem. Deposits of food, perspiration and sebum, or other pollutants also encourage microbial activity and associated odors.
Q: What can I do to prevent microbial activity?
A: Storing valuables in attics, basements, garages, and other infrequently visited areas of your home or museum is an invitation for mold, mildew, and fungal growth. High humidity conditions, in combination with warm or hot temperatures, can cause the spores found all around us to bloom in as few as three days. However, fairly mild temperatures and relative humidity levels that persist for several weeks can also harbor ongoing microbial activity on organic materials. Keep your valuables clean and store them where air circulation is present, and relative humidity and temperatures do not exceed 70 percent and 70 degrees for more than 72 hours.
Q: What will my items cost to fumigate?
A: Fumigation costs $450 for each unit of space. One unit of space is equivalent to up to 15 gallons, or 2.5 square feet. If your items fit in a standard kitchen garbage bag, a 15-gallon tub, on a roll measuring 6 feet long and 8 inches in diameter, or in a 18 x 30 x 6 inch acid-free textile storage box, the charge is $450. If you bring a larger volume of textiles or clothing, you will be charged for more than one unit of space. The cost to rent the entire 400 cubic foot chamber is $3000.
Q: Why should I have my items cleaned after fumigation?
A: Fumigating items is just the first step in stopping a microbial outbreak. Once they are deactivated, soot particles, fungal growth, fuzzy mold, and the dirt they feed on should be removed from the effected surfaces to reduce allergens and the opportunity for staining and rot. Everyday clothing can often be dry cleaned, but historic garments and textiles, clothing accessories, works of art, and other vintage valuables should be cleaned by a professional conservator.
Q: How much will it cost for my items to be both fumigated and surface cleaned?
A: Surface cleaning charges are calculated on an item-by-item basis. Our costs range from $150 for small textiles such as a pair of shoes, to $500 for a 6-foot-wide rug rolled to an 8-inch-diameter roll. Larger items are subject to higher fumigation and higher surface cleaning charges. The total cost will be estimated prior to service.
Q: Why should I have my items archivally packed?
A: The optimal way to store your valuables is in pH-neutral, high-quality materials that protect them from light, pests, accidental handling, and environmental soils. Proper storage boxes also buffer against rapid temperature and RH swings. The most common type of archival storage is in a museum-quality box with unbuffered, acid-free tissue paper. Museum Textile Services can also provide archival rolled or hanging storage for clothing, textiles, and accessories. Packing costs begin at just $75, including all packing materials.