Cleaning a felt letter board and changeable letters

Connie High
by Connie High
I work in an old building and little funds for new decor. However, our sign on a stand is old and discolored. I am afraid I will ruin the felt. Any suggestions?
  6 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jul 08, 2016
    To clean the board I would use a lint roller as not to wet the felt.
    • Connie High Connie High on Jul 08, 2016
      Thanks, Janet. I had a dry rag and wiped the dust, even that turned the felt a different color from the rest of the board.
  • GoddessOdd GoddessOdd on Jul 08, 2016
    If the felt is changing color just by wiping with a dry rag, then the sign is either totally filthy, or beginning to dry rot. If the sign is on a stand, I am guessing there is some sort of frame holding the sign onto the stand? Is it possible to just replace the felt by removing the frame? I was the volunteer housekeeper for a local historic residence, we had to clean a lot of very fragile fabrics and surfaces, and we used a special vacuum cleaner with a "delicate" setting. Before we had the money to buy the fancy schmancy vacuum though, I used a regular vacuum with a couple of layers of cheesecloth folded over the nozzle, to lessen the force of the suction. If you can find a really soft brush attachment, you might try that, but very carefully. Your dry rag was too much pressure, so I wouldn't touch it with anything that wasn't very soft, which means it might take a good long while to clean the surface, by gently brushing. The only other thing I can think of is to completely cover the felt with corn meal, let it sit for a while, and then carefully brush it off with a really soft brush, something like a makeup brush. The cornmeal should freshen the fabric without damaging it, or changing the color. I would hesitate to use any thing ground finer than cornmeal, because you'd have to really brush to remove it. Good Luck
    • Connie High Connie High on Jul 09, 2016
      Thank you so very much. That is wonderful suggestions and I will try them right away. Your information has been very much appreciated by many. We do not want to get rid of the sign, but preserve it as much as possible. Thanks again!
  • GoddessOdd GoddessOdd on Jul 09, 2016
    I don't know how far your budget will stretch, but there is a set of vacuum cleaner "micro" attachments for between $5-15 bucks on Amazon. These will fit on the end of a regular vacuum cleaner hose, and they are very useful in old buildings. The set I have came with a small and very soft brush would be one of the things I would try. I did think of one other trick you might try. When we had very distressed fabric that we wished to save, we would very carefully sew fine net over the fabric, the net becomes almost invisible (if you find the right net and sew carefully) but keeps the fabric from shredding further.... we used this on quilts and such a lot). Perhaps you could put some net over the sign temporarily, to help stabilize it while you clean. Just go very slowly and gently as you clean, test tiny spots or the back if possible. Once you have it clean, you might consider how you'll protect it in the future.
  • Connie High Connie High on Jul 09, 2016
    Thanks! That really helps!
  • GoddessOdd GoddessOdd on Jul 10, 2016
    let me know how it goes...I worked closely with our curators on a lot of fabric preservation, and I'd love to hear how it turned out. If you decide later to put some quality glass or plexiglass over the sign, it will hide some of the problems, but obviously that depends on the problems. Felt is not easy because there is no "grain" , no warp and weft threads to stabilize the fabric.
  • Connie High Connie High on Jul 10, 2016
    sure, thank you for helping