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 clothes with cedar: the double edged sword

Cedar logLast week a client dropped off an armful of sweaters and knits that had developed moth holes.

She was perplexed. How, she wondered, could her wools and knits develop moth holes when they had been faithfully stored over the summer in her 15 year old cedar chest?

When I ask her "why cedar?", she told me that she had always been told that cedar chests were the ideal place to store her fine wools and knits for the summer, thereby protecting them against the possibility of moth damage.

So I asked her the obvious question: why had her fine wools and knits developed moth holes when they had been carefully stored over the summer in her 15 year old cedar chest?

When she couldn't answer that question, I provided her with the following explanation...

Many believe that cedar is the ideal moth repellant. But that's only true in certain circumstances.

That's because cedar itself does not kill insects. It's the aroma of the oils in the wood that's highly irritating to insects and it's the aroma in the oils that makes those insects less likely to stay in that vicinity for a prolonged period of time.

But the cedar looses it's positive attributes when it dries out, leaving the cedar chest functionally useless.

Not only is dried out cedar wood functionally useless, but dried out cedar wood offers negative protection.

Why?

Because cedar wood (and all wood products for that matter) is highly acidic. As the wood ages, it off gasses acids. And when those acids come into physical contact with your garments, the acids could possibly yellow your garments and deteriorate the fibers.

So what to do?

1. Make sure to sand the interior of your cedar chests and closets every few years. Sanding the wood will bring out the aroma of the oils below the surface of the wood. If the wood is really dry, consider sanding and a coat of cedar oil.

2. Line the inside of your cedar chest or the outside of your cedar closets with an archival, chemically insert barrier film (such as DuPont's Mylar D or Mellinex 516). You can use thumb tacks to attach the barrier film to the wood. This will provide a barrier between your garments and the wood. You get the positive protection of the aroma of the oils in the cedar and avoid any physical contact between the wood and your fine garments.

3. Never allow any of your garments to come into physical contact with cedar blocks or cedar rings. I would avoid cedar hangers entirely. If you have them, toss them!

Cedar chest Cedar closet
Cedar rings Cedar hangers
Cedar blocks

 

And you thought that your New Year's weekend would be task free!

How can I help you?

 


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