As warmer weather approaches, we begin to plan for putting away our heavy woolen knits until the snow flies again next fall. Part of that planning involves considerations for keeping away that four-letter word of the knitting world, the wool moth.
First, it is important to know that the adult moth is not the culprit for eating holes in sweaters—it is the larvae. Moths want to lay their eggs in dark, warm food-filled places where their larvae can find food, and we want to stop them from doing so at all costs! To cut down on the chance of a moth finding your sweater to be the perfect spot for their eggs, be sure to wash your garments before storage. Larvae feed on hair and skin particles left behind during normal wearing, so it is important that you wash your knits before storing them. The way you wash will depend on the garment, but we recommend soaking woolens in a gentle wool wash like Eucalan or Wool Soap. Once the garment is clean, you can block it and store it once dry.
Once a garment is washed you are ready to store it away. A good method for doing so is to place garments in sealed plastic bags with a sachet of lavender. This will keep new pests out, and also act as a barrier to other woolens if one item does happen to have moth larvae present. We prefer to store each garment in a separate bag, but that it totally up to the knitter. Once your woolens are ready, store the bags in a cool, dry place.
After taking all the precautions you can, it is still a good idea to know what to look for in case of moth damage. Irregular holes, especially many tiny ones, are an obvious sign that moth larvae have been present. You may also find a silky webbing or cigar-like cocoons attached to your garments. If you find signs like this, you will want to take steps to first rid your garments of the problem before storing them again or returning them to your closet. If you find moth damage on one item, you will want to check your entire wardrobe, as the damage tends to not be restricted to just one item.
If you find moth damage on any garments, remember to be careful as you take steps to get rid of the problem. Moth eggs can survive for months, and even dry cleaning can leave them unharmed and ready to re-infest your closet. We recommend putting damaged garments in the freezer for at least one month to kill the eggs. And please remember to not bring moth-damaged items into clothing stores or your local yarn store like Blazing Needles! One moth egg transferred to a skein of yarn can lead to the destruction of our entire stock, so we ask that you call ahead if you need help with moth damage on an item in your wardrobe.