Friday, September 13, 2013

The Moth

It's cold here already. We put the heating on for a couple of hours last night to take the chill out of the air, and it seems as if it's already time to start wearing woolly socks and sweaters. It's also time to change over the closets. I actually love changing over the clothes in my closet, because not only does it feel like going on a shopping spree, it's fun to welcome my favorite autumn colors after a summer of brights and gauzy cottons. Today I pulled out my favorite buy from last year, a light but warm, lobster red merino wool pullover with the perfect scooped neckline--a sweater that was my single most-complimented garment last winter--discovering, to my absolute horror, that the whole front of it had been devoured by moths:
Goodnight, sweet prince.
Handy sewist that I am, the wool is too fine and the damage to extensive that even I did not care to tackle that lacework, so straight into the bin it went. I am now burning a candle for it and weep as I type. 

This is not the first time I've had moth issues, but I am determined that it will be my last. Everyone says that moth balls are the only solution, but I had a really bad experience with them in the past, and I would rather find a different route while still keeping a working wardrobe alive. Searching everywhere for answers, I collected them all and here present to you the Puppet Opera guide to moth prevention.

The internet tells me the first thing you have to do is clean out the closet. So I'm wiping and vacuuming everything in and around my wardrobe, as well as the chest of drawers where my knitwear lives. Moths are attracted to soiled clothes, so the next thing on my list is to launder all my sweaters and woolen clothes, and really make sure they are clean before putting them away for the season. As I am learning, the best preventative against moths is a scrupulously clean garment. Not that I support dirty clothes, but since sweaters are the most-worn items of clothing in my house, it's easy to skip a wash or two (because they're being worn). 

Sealing in plastic is supposed to help, but it's no good if the moth larvae (that's what does the damage) are already snuggling into the wool fibers of your sweaters, so next time, I will store them in the freezer (that means chucking out several tons worth of bananas-- it's banana bread time at our house!) for at least two weeks to kill the eggs. If we had enough freezer room to store my sweaters in there permanently, I would definitely go for that option, but we have a teensy European freezer so my sweaters will have to make room for the ice cream. I also read that ironing wool is a way to kill moth eggs and larvae, but it's also a good way to make wool shiny, so I will use that method with great caution.

If you are wealthy you can buy a cedar-lined closet, but if you are on a budget like me you can go for the cheaper option of cedar blocks or hangers. Supposedly essential oils repel moths, and one of their least-favorite is rosemary. Why, look! What is that shrub growing rampant in my backyard? Yes, rosemary. As soon as the closet is clean you can bet I am going to install a hank of rosemary branches in there. Die, moths! Die! 

As always, I am very open to suggestions. What is your tried-and-true way of getting rid of moths?

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