Storing your Knits

Storing your Knits

What could be more cosy than a fluffy sweater, chunky cardigan or a cashmere knit in cooler months paired with leather, tailored trousers or, textural skirt and a chic vintage trench. Sadly, the moths love all that fluff and luxe too.

One of the 'old world' storage methods for prised wooly garments was a cedar chest. If you think about it, most superstitions and old wives tales stem from days gone by when waste was not an option. Your wool sweater, wool trousers or wool skirt and blanket (none plural) was mended and cared for because it was the only one you had.

Painted Bird Stylist Tips - Wool

The dark-colored heartwood of a red cedar has natural oils that help kill clothes-moth larvae, but it wont kill older ones or eggs. In lean times, the intention to always keep moths and subsequent mending at bay. 

Number One tip and absolute 'must do' before you even think about storing your items: is make sure that they are clean or dry-cleaned. This will lessen the likelihood of any little nasties already thinking about the feast to come. Keep in mind, that also goes for any non-natural fibres you plan on storing with your woolies. Don't leave any food crumbs or stains - they will seek out these tasty treats first!

These days, you are probably less likely to have a cedar chest in your home and much more likely, to have access to an essential oil or at least the dried herbs that moths dislike.

Moths don't like the following smells:

  • lavender
  • cedar
  • sandalwood
  • clove
  • bay
  • rosemary
  • thyme

Here's a couple of quick little tricks to deter the wee nibblers who adore your natural fibre garments to make them just 'stinky' enough for moths to turn their noses but not too odoriferous that you wont want to wear them again!

  • Put a drop of lavender on to a cotton handkerchief and lay it flat in-between the items before you store them. Of course you must wait till the oil is dry or you could make a mark.
  • Make up a little muslin bag (available at craft stores) to put in to the storage of dried, crushed up or even powdered herbs listed above. You can hang the wee pouch up in the closet where you store these pieces or you can put them in the storage container you are using.
  • Lay a cotton cloth in-between each item liberally spreading dried bay leaves over top then another layer of cotton. It doesn't have to be a thick piece of cotton - muslin will do. This trick is more about getting the smell in-between each piece without marking the garment with leaf oils - the very deterrent itself. 

    Personally, I don't recommend storing clothing made with natural fibers in dry cleaning plastic or plastic bins. I suggest cardboard boxes and spare wardrobes if you have them. Under the bed storage is great if the unit is made from breathable fibres.

    Natural fibres need to breathe and need a little space between each other or they will become mouldy and that is another subject altogether.

    If you have time before you intend to start storing (or inclination) putting your items in the freezer for a day or two inside of an airless zip lock bag will go a long way to killing any uninvited guests. You can do this for any garments you intend to put away as it will kill any bacteria and create a less than desirable home for carpet beetles or moths. For good measure I add a dot of lavender oil to the tag or label so when I go to store it I am a little way there already.

    Painted Bird Vintage Sweater

    When you are ready to pull your garments out again for the new season ahead - again, simply give them a few days in the freezer.

    As with before, put them in zip lock bags removing as much air as possible and then leave for a few days (at the very least overnight). When you remove just turn inside out and give an airing out in the sunshine before you put them away. Chest freezers are great for this process as long as they weren't used to store anything stinky like fish bait! The cold temperatures are not a favourite for the moths, eggs or larvae and will assist in killing anyone 'resting' there.

    A side note, anytime you wash your woolies (until it is time to put them away again) I would suggest handwashing with a lavender scented wool wash. I personally use Martha's Lavender Scented Wool Mix (available from a supermarket) and find it keeps my sweaters smelling fresh and moth free!

    Lets try to 'Save the fashion' for generations to come who we hope will appreciate the love and care you offered your quality vintage garments so that they may also enjoy them.

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