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Storing Winter Clothes

You’d think, given the amount of advice I dole out regarding clothing care, that I would never have a laundry or garment issue.  On the contrary, I think that on many occasions the A Cleaner World blog is a lesson from my life on what not to do when it comes to clothing care.  I’ve never taken the time to calculate my success or failure percentages, so I’d have to guess, given all the clothes I have and all the laundry I do, I probably have a pretty high success percentage.  It just feels out of whack because I tend to share only my failures.

Today’s failure story started a year ago when I was storing away winter clothing, in particular sweaters.  We have a storage room off our upstairs bonus room, and in it we store out-of-season clothing.  There are mounted wall racks for hanging items and two sets of shelves for folded items.  For 8 winters, I have followed this routine regarding sweaters: I make sure all winter sweaters are handwashed, completely dry, and properly folded; I place them gently stacked on one of those shelves; and I return for them the following fall.

This past fall when I returned, everything appeared to be as it should until I wore a sweater and then washed it.  After washing, I laid it out flat to dry only to discover small holes on the sleeve and under the arm.  I immediately knew what the problem was – moths, and the only explanation is that I had forgotten to clean the sweater before storing it away for the season.

We’ve said this over and over – wash or dry-clean everything prior to storage – and here’s why:  Moths are notorious for noshing on dirty clothing and natural fibers.  The information below is an important reminder of how to care for and what can happen if you forget or miss (like me) washing or dry cleaning an item before storing it away.

  • The most important thing when storing out-of-season clothes is to wash or dry clean every item before storing it away, even if you only wore it for an hour and even if it doesn’t look dirty.    
  • Unwashed clothing contains dead body cells, sweat, food particles, and so on, which are attractive to moths and other pests.  Many times, you can’t even see these items.  Pests will then munch on the items left behind, ultimately causing the fibers to weaken.
  • Typically, holes due to insect damage don’t appear until after the garment has been cleaned.  That’s because the fabric was likely weakened by insects, then the agitation the garment received during the cleaning process caused unbroken but weakened fibers to break. 
  • If you discover moth or insect damage on a sweater, don’t immediately discard it.  Bring it by one of our locations to see if it could possibly be repaired through reweaving.

This may sound silly, but I like to think that by sharing my failures, I can possibly help you save your garments.  



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