Cleaning old flags. The cloth type.

As some of you may know, I’m a big WWII buff. I’ll watch/read anything I can on the subject, especially the European front. The biggest influence, I’m sure, were the stories both grandfathers told of their time “over there”. (My grandma was a treasure trove of life in the US at the time with a husband overseas).

Anyway, the grandpa that was in Germany brought back some souveniers. The entire family, knowing my intense interest in WWII allowed me all of the items. Included are a number of flags, a table cloth, a placemat and a window curtain. They’re all made of cotton.

When he got back, the cloth items all went into a plastic bag for storage. And sat there. For 60 years. In the basement.

Needless to say there is a very distinct mildew smell. Luckily, there is no mold evident and the fabric is still in extremely good condition. The problem is the smell.

Well, that and the fact they have swastikas on them along with the iron cross on the flags. I can’t exactly hang them on the line to freshen up.

So I need some suggestions on how to best go about preserving them. My first thought was maybe trying Febreeze. However, the material is over 65 years old, so I’m leery of trying that.

Then I thought of calling a dry-cleaner or laundromat in advance to see if this would be a problem item for them. The problem there is that, while I’m sure chances are they would be professional enough to handle the job correctly, I have a gut fear of hearing someone tell me it “accidentally” was ruined in cleaning. Being irreplaceable, I’m very gunshy of whom I’d entrust this to.

So, given these circumstances, I turn to my fellow Dopers for advice on how best to go about this. I apologize for such a lengthy OP, but with all the possible things that could go wrong with this, I want to be very careful in how I go about it.

Thanks for reading this far.

You might contact your local historical society or history museum. They should be able to advise you where you can get competent help.

Never even thought of that. :smack:

I’ll look into it tomorrow. Thanks

My husband has a flag from when he climbed Mt. Fuji back in the early 60s. We didn’t clean it, but we had it professionally mounted and framed. They used protective UV glass so it won’t deteriorate any more. I also think a museum would know who to go to for cleaning.

Of course, there’s still the problem not really wanting to display a swastika-bearing flag in ones home. Professional mounting is probably not something the OP wants. Duffer, what do you plan to do with the flag?

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