To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I should write this specific post about clothing care. Elaborating about moths and mold isn’t that tempting. But then I thought how grateful I am that I can always turn to my mom. She knows everything about wardrobe maintenance and what to consider when storing seasonal clothes away for several months. And although she’d be delighted to answer all of your questions, I thought it makes sense to write down what I’ve learned. So here are my tips on how to protect your clothes from three common hazards:
- Fabric moths
- Mold and mildew
Please note that all clothing care tips are based on my personal experience. None of them are intended to replace common sense or professional advice. Please use the recommendations at your own risk and adjust them to your individual needs.
Fabric moths, specifically their larvae, are the enemy number one for wool or other natural hairs. The moths lay their eggs in such garments, and the larvae live on the fibers – leaving big holes in your most loved coat or sweater that hardly can be fixed. The best prevention is to wear your clothes regularly as moths love it cozy and quiet. A wool scarf, somewhere forgotten in the corner of your closet, though, can be the starting point for a big feast and extensive damage.
Here are some ways to protect your clothes from these incredibly hungry uninvited guests:
- The best prevention is to wear your clothes regularly. A way to achieve this is to layer knits instead of buying the big chunky ones that you can only wear for a very short time of the year.
- Give wool coats and jackets a quick brush before hanging them back into your closet.
- Leaving more space between wool items can prevent the moths’ population from invading the neighboring pieces.
- If possible, dry clean garments made from wool and similar natural fibers and hairs before storing them longer, i.e., at the end of the winter season. Dry cleaning effectively kills any eggs laid in the fabric.
- For off-season storage, seal winter clothing in bags together with a moth repellent (lavender or cedarwood are natural alternatives to the conventional chemical mothballs)
- Moths love a quiet, dusty, untroubled environment, so clean out your closet regularly, move around and check your clothes. A well-organized and clean closet is much more moth-proof!
Mildew and Mold
Items that are stored wet or damp are prone to mildew or mold growth. Both can ruin your clothes as they create irreparable staining and eventually holes. Moreover, mold spores can also be hazardous to human respiration.
The first warning sign of mold or mildew growth is a musty smell. When you notice it, wash the item immediately, or take it to the dry cleaners if it’s ‘dry clean only’. Refer to these posts for more information, especially when you’re unsure how to treat delicate fabrics:
- How to Take Care of Luxury Fabrics
- 7 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Clothes
- Laundry Symbols Explained
Most mildew and mold damage is fairly easy to avoid unless you live in a very humid environment. To protect your clothes, make sure that they are completely dry before putting them away in a drawer, your closet, or an off-season storage box.
Here are a few tips on how to properly dry garments that are prone to lose their shape, e.g., knitwear and tailored pieces:
- Lay your knitwear flat to let it dry. Special drying racks work best, but you can also cover your ironing board with a towel and use this as a flat surface.
- Smooth any creases, so they don’t get permanent.
- Let the item dry thoroughly before folding and storing it away.
Coats and jackets can be hung to dry. The best is to use a bigger shoulder-shaped hanger to support the shape. However, when the garment got really wet and stretches too much due to its own weight, let it dry flat for a while and hang it when it’s only damp.
Another problem for mid- and long-term storage is continuous exposure to sunlight. Colors fade, and some fibers even become brittle. Usually, it takes a while until light damages your clothes and discoloration occur. But if you have a window next to your open, walk-in style closet, you should keep an eye on how much light is coming in. Here are a few ideas to keep the sun out:
- Use opaque dust bags and garment covers
- Install window shades or blinds
- Get adhesive UV filter foils for your windows
And there you have it – these are my seasonal wardrobe maintenance tips to protect your clothes from three common hazards.
Make the Most of Your Wardrobe
Taking good care of your clothes ensures they remain in tip-top shape and are available whenever you want to wear them. This is essential, but there are more ways to optimize your wardrobe:
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Let us know how you take care of and protect your clothes. Share your best tips in the comments below!