Layers of dust and closely bound soiling, when in combination with light, moisture and temperature, acts as a catalyst to fibre degradation. Therefore, it is desirable that soiling be removed to help slow the rate of the natural deterioration process.
The practice employs several methods to remove different types of soiling but occasionally ingrained soils are too closely bound that they cannot be released without recourse to additional cleaning.
Using a low concentration of conservation-grade detergents, wet-cleaning can produce excellent results in cleaning heavily soiled textiles. Soiling and products of degradation may be flushed out of the object, thus improving the pH value as well as the appearance. The process also provides an opportunity for firm creases to be eased.
Prior to treatment, dye-fastness tests determine the suitability of a textile for wet-cleaning.
Occasionally, heavily soiled textiles are not suitable candidates for wet-cleaning – often due to the presence of additional materials such as metal-threads. Cleaning with a non-aqueous solvent enables further soil removal to be undertaken without adversely affecting the textile.
The practice is able to carry out solvent cleaning for small textiles.