There's nothing better than the first warm breath of spring and the promise of sunny days ahead. Even in California, we like to celebrate the new season by swapping our sweaters for warm weather gear!
But wait. Before you even think about shoving your winter clothes to the back of the closet, you need to do some prep work. Storing dusty, slightly dirty, or worn clothing is basically ringing the dinner bell for Mama Moth to plant her eggs! If you don't want any nasty surprises come next autumn, you need to take steps to secure your sweaters.
Here's how to protect your winter clothing from a moth infestation:
First: Clean Everything. You need to wash or treat all of your clothes (even the things you didn't wear or only wore once). I know, I know, this sounds overwhelming and boring, but necessary. Moths are attracted to any natural fiber with the slightest trace of food splatter, dust, lint, sweat, body oil, pet fur or dander. There's literally nothing in my closet that doesn't fit that description, so I've learned (the hard way) to err on the side of caution.
Having said that, taking everything to the dry-cleaner will be expensive. It's not great for the environment, either. Instead, we suggest separating your clothing into four categories:
Dry-Clean only things. These include anything made from natural fibers like wool, silk, leather or fur. Also anything that’s worn, dirty, and really has to be dry-cleaned (think dinner suits and formal dresses).
How to deal with it: Take it to the dry-cleaner (duh!)
Dry-Clean only things that you didn't wear, but are dusty or may have tiny specks of soy sauce or salad dressing. These include coats, suits, leather jackets, pants and silk ties, scarves, or dresses. If in doubt, treat it!
How to deal with it: Try to hang everything outside in direct sunlight, if possible. If you can't, the freezer will work, too. You may have to bag and freeze your garments a few pieces at a time. The idea here is that you're killing off any moth larvae not visible to the naked eye. Once you've hung and/or frozen, you'll want to spray each piece down with a generous spritz of Garment Groom, sweep with a dry, clean cloth, and let it dry thoroughly before storing.
Things that can be washed by hand. FYI: Most sweaters, some silks, and some wool garments can actually be carefully washed by hand and air-dried.
How to deal with it: We’ve gone deep into how to cautiously ignore Dry-Clean only labels in favor of washing by hand before, but here are the basics:
I wash my sweaters in an old, enamel basin in the sink, but if your sink is small (and clean), close the drain and use the sink as your basin! Use lukewarm to cool water and add the soap under a running tap.
Use a gentle, liquid soap and squeeze it through your garment.
Rinse in clear, cool water several times.
Roll the garment in a thin towel to remove excess water.
Lay the garment flat to dry.
Machine washables. This category is easy. Follow the rules on the care label, and throw it in the machine. Remember to pre-treat, if necessary, and, as always, use a gentle, liquid soap on the coldest setting. Hang to dry or tumble dry on the lowest heat setting. When almost dry, I sprinkle those wool dryer balls with a great laundry fragrance and do a quick cycle on low/no heat to infuse my clothes with a delicious scent and further repel moths.
A word about garment storage: A lot of experts like airtight, plastic bags. Personally, I don't like them. I prefer these cloth versions because I feel like textiles need to breathe. As long as you wash/treat and thoroughly dry everything, you can store your clothes with confidence.
I usually do my wardrobe changeover routine over the course of a lazy weekend. It’s a good idea to spritz your spring/summer things with Garment Groom to ease the wrinkles out and freshen them if they smell stale from being stored.