Wool has many wonderful qualities: it’s a natural fiber; it’s a good insulator and thus has the ability to keep you warm in winter; it is naturally flame resistant; it is a very durable fiber.

I know, I know….there are allergies associated with wool. I, for one, cannot wear wool next to my skin as I will start to itch very quickly. A thin layer of cotton or silk solves that. For bedding…well, it can’t be beat. I’ll do a post in the fall all about wool blankets and show you a huge variety of them (post is already in the works!)  But for now, let’s talk about how to keep your woolens safe during the summer months.

Moths love wool. Have you ever gone to your closet or drawer in the fall only to discover those tiny holes in a sweater that magically “appeared” over the summer? I’ve had two cashmere sweaters that suffered from that fate. Luckily, I am fairly good at darning holes (thanks, Mom) so was able to rescue them. And many cleaners have a service to help you.

Here are some suggestions on how to keep your woolens, whether bedding or clothing, fresh and ready for the next season:

1) Don’t put them away dirty! I know, you probably think this is ridiculous, but believe me, it helps so much to make sure they are fresh and clean before you store them. By cleaning your woolens before storing them you are getting rid of any larvae or moths about to hatch…and they will do so given a dark, cosy environment. At the very least, give them a good shake outdoors. If you have a clothesline, hang them out for a while.

2) Be sure your clothes are in the best shape to go into storage.  By that I mean, button up a coat or jacket, make sure the collar is in its correct position either standing up or laying flat; make sure the pocket flaps are closed and flat; zip up zippers on skirts or jackets; DO NOT hang sweaters on hangers (no matter how padded) but, rather, fold them and lay flat. For blankets, fold them neatly and lay flat.

3) Put woolens in a separate bag or box or, ideally, a cedar chest or closet. We bought a cedar chest many, many years ago and I cannot tell you what a lifesaver it has been. It’s just so easy to put all woolens away each spring and not have to worry about them at all.

4) Containers. Of course, plastic is everywhere. Plastic works, but over years it will not allow the fabrics to breathe. I highly recommend using either a cardboard box made for storage or a cotton canvas dress bag of some kind. A plastic bag will do, but I just think natural materials are so much better in the long run.

I’m partial to these storage bags: you can easily see what’s inside and they come in several useful sizes. The large is perfect for our wool blankets.

These are the best all cotton hanging bags, ready to add some cedar or lavender!

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In three different sizes from The Container Store.

If you do use plastic dress bags just be sure your moth repellent (cedar, lavender or moth balls) does NOT touch the actual plastic. Put the repellent in coat pockets or wrap it in bits of fabric and place in the bottom of the bag.

5) Protect clothes with a moth repellent. Use cedar or lavender for moth protection and the best scent around.  These are both natural materials and will do a great job of protecting your clothes (provided you have cleaned them first) and come in all sorts of product variations.

Of course, mothballs are ubiquitous. They work, especially in closed, air-tight containers (so not great with cardboard or cotton but better in plastic.) But, remember, mothballs are poisonous and contain pesticides. You will also have to air out your clothes before wearing.

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Cedar in every kind of configuration! From Richards Homewares.

Or, try mixing lavender with the cedar:

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Easy to use sachet from The Container Store.

One last idea!

If you’re a DIY’er and want to make your own unique moth repellent sachets, take a look at this article from Gardenista. Erin Boyle shows you how to make your own:

moth sachets filled with herbs and cinnamon-180x180

They look so pretty, don’t they?
Please do take care of your woolens: they will thank you for it!