When I posted my Sweater Refashion Tutorial on my blog some time ago and wrote about how I love bringing home old, wool sweaters from thrift stores to refashion, one wise reader asked in the comments: "But what do you do to be sure you aren't bringing moths home with the sweaters?"
This is a good question. As refashioners we all find ourselves scouring for new refashionable materials in thrift stores, so I thought I'd share my tips on moth prevention and control.
What to look for
When picking up garments made of natural fibres, particularly wool or fur, but also silk and other natural fibres, it is good to inspect them carefully before taking anything home with you. Little larvae feed on fabric and chew little holes into it. So any little holes in the garment could be a sign of suspicious activity and mean that the garment is possibly infested with moths. Any good thrift store should know how to prevent the little beasts themselves and should not have infested garments hanging about, but you never know, so it's always good to check. If a garment smells clean and is not stained it is less likely to be infested as larvae mostly feed in areas where there are food stains or sweat. So the cleaner the garment looks to you, the less likely it is to be infested with moths.
Getting rid of moths
There is no sure way of telling if a garment is infested or not, so if you happen to bring home moths with your new thrifted sweater, either toss it or put it in the freezer. Yes, the freezer! I like to put all woolen garments I pick up in thrift stores into the freezer for 72 hours or more before I let them anywhere near my closet. 72 hours of freezing will kill all pests that may be lurking in your sweater. It's a safe and environmentally-friendly way of treating moth-infested sweaters. Some people even suggest microwaving but I have never tried this before and would be very cautious of putting precious woolens into a microwave.
Caring for your woolens
Once your new refashioned woolen garment hangs in your closet take good care of it, so it doesn't attract any moths in the future. Keep it clean! Before storing any woolens away for the winter they should first be cleaned. I also like to throw a couple of drops of lavender oil in with each cycle of laundry or when hand-washing my woolens. It makes my clothes smell nice and it is a natural moth deterrent.
So, beware the moths, but don't let them scare you away from thrifting and refashioning woolens. If you have any other moths tips to share, please do!