True Quality CleaningStraight talk about caring for fine garments & household textiles from an expert who calls it like it is. In plain English.

Protecting your fine woolens against moths

Generic jacket 1While most of the USA has been digging out from under snowdrifts and shielding against the driving rain, we've had a relatively mild winter so far in Arizona (yesterday, I was outdoors in a T-shirt and shorts!)

But it'll turn colder soon and you'll be finally digging out your woolen sweaters, coats and scarves. Hopefully you won't be greeted with little holes in any of those woolen garments.

Now you're thinking, here we go again. The vicious cycle of storage, reweaving, wearing, and storage, reweaving, wearing.

So what can you do to break the cycle?

Generic jacket 2As with most issues, before you can formulate a solution, you need to first understand the problem.

Here's what you need to know (at a minimum) ...

The female adult moth can lay up to 200 eggs in a cycle, up to 5 cycles a year. When the female adult moth is searching for the "ideal" egg laying location, she's looking for a source of nutrition for the larvae to feed on when they hatch. The larvae must feed in order to survive and grow.

Unfortunately, garments stored without first being cleaned contain all the nutrients necessary to sustain life for those larvae. These nutrients include proteins, mineral salts, vitamin B complex and cholesterol that accumulate on your garments from perspiration, body oil, food or beverage simply by virtue of the fact that the garment has been worn.

The problem is complicated by the fact that the larvae will often feast on the inside of a garment, on the surface of a garment, or on certain threads in a garment. This reduces the thickness or strength of the fibers in those places. So when the garment is either worn, hand washed or dry cleaned, the possibility exists that holes that were not previously visible to the naked eye could open up.

So you need to look for areas where the cloth has been eaten through (the fabric will show a hole with the fibers around the edge of the hole partially eaten away). And look for areas where the cloth has been eaten on the surface (the fabric will appear to be "cratered" with the cloth partially eaten away). Lighter colors are easier to detect; darker colors more difficult to detect. But, with careful examination, you should be able to see moth damage with the naked eye.

Now that you know what the problem is, the solution is really quite simple: the only way to "guarantee" that you won't have a moth problem is to hand wash and/or dry clean your fine woolens before you store.

Even if you think your items are clean, you ought to clean them anyway. Why? Because there are many different kinds of stains that you may not have seen and that will leave a layer of organic material for the moth larvae to feed on.

Remember the mantra: clean before you store because no source of nutrition means no moth problem.

Notice that I've said nothing about cedar blocks, cedar chests, cedar lined closets, herbal sachets, moth balls, polypropylene boxes, zip lock bags or nylon or vinyl zip up bags supplied by your favorite clothing store.

Why? Because these solutions don't eliminate the problem, they only contain the problem.

That having been said, you can enhance the protection of your fine woolens while in storage in two ways:

  1. Keep your closets clean and organized. Vacuum regularly.
  2. Store your washed and/or dry cleaned woolens in storage bags made of breathable, man-made fibers.

In tomorrow's post, I'll examine what you can do about woolens that have developed moth holes.

Here are two examples of moth eaten textiles.

Huntsman wool bespoke suit jacket

Suit jacket cuff w moth holes Moth eaten jacket
Huntsman jacket

 

Frette cashmere throw

Frette cashmere throw Frette cashmere throw label

 

How can I help you?



 

 


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