Frigid temperatures have made themselves a constant and the official first day of winter has come and gone. So, it’s time to retrieve those stored sweaters and cardigans, shake out the wrinkles and slip them over your favorite button down shirts or premium tees. Sweater layering is about looking good, yet a much overlooked way to accomplish this feat is to preserve your natural material sweaters and I am here to share with you how to do it.
This morning while I was admiring my perfectly matched winter ensemble, I noticed something on the sleeve of my sweater… a small hole. A hole in my favorite Black, Merino Wool, half-zip sweater, right above the wrist. My initial thought was that I probably snagged my sweater on something and a hole this small can be repaired easily, so I continued with my morning routine. I happened to glance over at my right arm and see two small holes on the outside of my bicep. These were more noticeable as they displayed the white squares on the royal purple and white gingham shirt underneath the sweater. I take the sweater off and lay it on the bed to inspect it. There are holes in the shoulders, the arms the back and the wrist, what is going on? The sporadic groupings, large numbers and clean inner edges of the holes pointed directly to moth damage.
The moths that you may see in your house are more than likely not eating your wool clothing, but rather the moth larvae. Moth larvae eat mammalian hair or fur materials because they contain Keratin which is a protein that is essential to their diet and development. Keratin can be found in fur, hair, finger-nails, feathers, silk, cotton, cashmere and any other natural, keratin rich fiber you can think of.
Moth balls are extremely effective at repelling moths, but I didn’t want my entire closet smelling like moth balls nor did I want to expose myself to the toxins contained in them. So, how should you repel moths and preserve you fine wool, cashmere and silk clothing without the harsh smell? I have listed a few options that you will want to try below!
- Always clean garments before and after you store them. Wash your garments in hot water when you have the ability to (always follow care instructions on the tags). Excessive heat in high temperature washes kill moth larvae and eggs, preventing larvae from hatching to consume your clothing.
- Though it is much more expensive than home washing, the dry-cleaning process will also have the same effect utilizing chemicals and high temperatures for washing the garments.
- Be sure to inspect the area where you keep your wool and other natural fiber clothing for eggs, larvae or adult moths and clean thoroughly to decrease the risk of an encounter. Vacuuming and dusting help tremendously.
Natural Moth Repellents
- Cedar chips, Cedar Oil, Dried Lavender, Peppermint and Rosemary
- All the materials listed above are naturally occurring and are great alternatives to moth balls. These options are to be used as a second line of defense once your wardrobe has been rid of moths, larvae and eggs. They will not kill the pests but deter them.
- Keratin contains amino acids that contain sulfur. The sulfur is what attracts the moth’s larvae and the oils listed above emit a scent that masks the sulfur scent deterring the larvae from the garments.
Storage Bags (large Zip-Loc or vacuum bags)
- Placed cleaned natural fiber clothing in non-permeable, resealable bags when storing to prevent the entry of moths or their larvae. It is important to clean the garment before storage to ensure no fertile eggs or living larvae are transferred to the bag.
- Include a cloth bag filled with cedar chips or dried lavender in the storage container you are using to ensure moths are repelled and it will also leave pleasant scent upon retrieval. Make sure the bags and containers are completely sealed.
Hopefully you will not encounter a moth issue in your lifetime but if you do try these remedies.
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