With the cooler weather finally arriving this weekend, many of us will be pulling out our wool sweaters and blankets for the first time since March. Unfortunately some of us will have the unpleasant experience of discovering that our belongings are ruined… ruined by bugs. If you find mysterious holes, or “trails” of damaged fiber in your sweaters, scarves, blankets, socks, or even hats when you bring them out of storage, watch out, YOU PROBABLY HAVE BUGS!!
INSECT DAMAGE, WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
Insect damage looks like small holes in the fabric. There may be single randomly sprinkled holes, groups of different sized holes, or even layers of holes in folded fabric, In some instances the fiber damage appears as irregular “trails” or veins across the surface. If the holes are very small or don’t penetrate all the way through the fabric, they may go unnoticed until you clean the garment. During cleaning, holes in sweaters and other knits will become much larger as the broken fibers pull away.
WHAT CAUSED IT?
Bugs. Many insects, such as moths, silverfish, cock- roaches, and beetles, are attracted to textiles with food, beverage, and perspiration stains left on them. Insect damage is more common on wool fabrics, since these fibers are made from a protein that particularly attracts moths. Moth damage is actually caused by larvae of the hatched eggs that were laid in the fabric while in storage long before the damage appears. It may show up on just one garment in a closet or affect several garments.
CAN IT BE PREVENTED?
The best method for preventing insect damage is to frequently inspect and clean dark areas in rooms, closets, and storage containers. Wash and dry clean garments regularly and always clean just before any prolonged storage. If possible, store items in tight containers or sealed garment bags. Closed cedar closets and cedar chests can serve as insect-proof containers, although like cedar chips, mothballs, or crystals, these methods have no guaranteed mothproofing value. In order for any insect protection to be truly effective, the storage container must be tight so that insects cannot get in.
GOOD LUCK! And let me know if you have any other tips for preventing insect damage. I’ll be happy to share them.