Every time we transition into fall or spring, I pack away the clothes I know I won’t be wearing for a while. Sweaters go into plastic bins; out-of-season shoes are moved to the back of the closet; and last season’s sport coats and outerwear are placed into garment bags and hung in a hallway closet. This not only makes room in my main closets, but it also helps protect things that won’t be worn for six months.
This only works, however, if the clothes are cleaned beforehand. The reason why we use things such as plastic bins and garment bags, of course, is because we want to protect our wools and cashmeres from moths. However, it’s not actually moths that eat our clothes; it’s their larvae. An adult moth can lay up to 200 eggs per cycle, and have a few cycles in its short lifespan. Thus, if you have a moth problem, you most likely have eggs embedded into the fibers of your clothes. If you store these clothes away with eggs in them, you might find them six months later with holes.
So, before you store anything away, I recommend doing a few things:
- Dry clean anything that’s made with animal hair (wool, cashmere, camelhair, angora, etc). This is especially important if you own anything that was bought second hand. We have a useful guide on how to find a good dry cleaner, in case you don’t already have someone you rely on.
- Wash any cottons or synthetic materials. Moths usually ignore these fibers, but if you’re storing stuff away, you don’t know what might have eggs.
- Vacuum the floor and shelves. This will remove any eggs and larvae that might be living in your closet. Pay particular attention to the nooks, crannies, and corners where things might be hiding.
- Once you’re done cleaning and packing, you can throw a few cedar balls or satchels in with your clothes. Some argue these aren’t much of a deterrent, but they’re better than nothing. Dried lavender is also sometimes used as an alternative, but there’s not much evidence that it’s as effective as cedar.
All of this can take a bit of time and money. I spend about a full day packing things away, and admittedly, pay a lot in dry cleaning. However, since you have to clean things anyway, you might as well do it when it counts the most. Imagine how you’d feel if you open up that garment bag six months from now and see a hole in your favorite sport coat.
(Photo via My Messings)