Silks are luxurious fabrics, delicate in an aesthetic sense yet practical and durable. With the proper care, silk scarves and shawls can be enjoyed for a lifetime.
Unfortunately, since imported silk is often sold by weight, an old process of “weighting” woven silks with metal salts has given silk a reputation for poor durability. The metal salts coat the silk fibers, making them heavier and thus temporarily more profitable to sell, but later causing them to disintegrate and shred, creating a dry rotting effect that was blamed on mold, mildew, sunlight, and aging. Now that this “weighting” process is (for the most part) illegal, silk has proven to be very resistant to the various molds, mildews, and rots that plague other natural fibers. Even though silk is very resistant to decay, it should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from heat and dampness.
When storing large silk scarves and shawls, roll them on a cardboard tube rather than folding them. Folds weaken the fibers, causing permanent creasing and eventual tearing. If folding the silk is unavoidable, use the paper to support the folds to minimize creases. Place the layers of silk and paper in a cardboard box or wooden drawer.
Never use plastic for long-term storage; it does not allow the natural fibers to breathe, causing them to dry out and deteriorate. Plastic should be used only to transport silk and to temporarily protect work in progress from water spots, dye, grease, and dirt present in a studio situation.
If carpet beetles and mice are a problem in your area, periodically check your stored silk scarves for signs of these pests. Homo sapiens is not the only species on earth that likes to line its nests with silk.