Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dirty Laundry

This post is particularly painful to make, in light of my recent posts about stashcavation. It's scary and a bit embarrassing; this admission is the fiberista equivalent of admitting you have head lice. I found moths in my closet Friday. Yep. Moths. I am not sure how long they have been there, and it started a frantic decloseting Saturday. (the delay caused by unbreakable plans that kept me busy until about 3 PM.) In between times I was frantically reading about clothes moths and figuring out what I needed to do. The bottom line? They are easy to deal with and yet persistent which will make for hawk-like vigilance from here on out. I have had more than 20 blithe moth-free years, but no more. Things need to be cleaned, properly stored and also taken out and aired regularly. Ugh.

Then again, maybe this is a GOOD thing. I need to get back in touch with what I own--I am a hoarder. Not just yarn, but vintage cashmere sweaters, vintage coats and nice clothes. It's time to address those beloved items that might not fit anymore or that I don't love so much as I thought I did. Time to go bye-bye!

In the mean time, I have yanked all my woolens out of the closet and am trying to find creative ways to clean, remove any possible eggs, prep and store. What I have found so far:

1) Moth larvae prefer soiled garments, so clean items are less vulnerable.
2) 120 degrees for 30 minutes will kill larvae and eggs.
3) Freezing items for 72 hours or more and then slowly thawing will kill larvae and eggs.
4) larvae and eggs are relative easy to dislodge by brushing or shaking the garment.
5) Moths don't like light.
6) Egg laden female moths crawl onto garments, rather than flying.
7) Larvae can live for quite a while, to you have to be patient and vigilant.
8) Just cleaning the garments is not enough. You also need to clean the storage area--wash the wood, vacuum, get all dust up and discard the vacuum cleaner bag. My mom had a trick when I was a kid using a vacuum on pests; she would spray Raid into the vacuum so it was sucked up in the bag. This kills the critters without putting pesticide on every surface. I plan to do this, since I am also rather nervous about overuse of bug spray.
9) dry cleaning will kill larvae and eggs. Obviously, dry cleaning yarn is out of the question. In fact, I ruled dry cleaning out because A) I have enough stuff to deal with that it would be PROHIBITIVELY expensive, and B) I am more an more iffy about the chemicals used for dry cleaning, so I use the process sparingly. I tend to clean my garments by had unless they need strain treatment. So not really an option for me except for maybe suits or coats.

I only have a tiny freezer in my garage and the one above my fridge, so freezer space is limited, so that is not such a useful option. We need to buy a freezer, but don't currently have garage space, so I will need to make some room. I will put some yarn there, since balls and skeins are tuckable.

Sweaters can be washed, so I have shaken out and inspected one batch, let it sit in our greenhouse porch in the sun for a day (at 95-100 degrees) and the first batch of 6-7 sweaters in soaking in Eucalan in the washing machine right now. I plan an hour soak.

I looked into dryer temperatures and found out that the average household dryer on high blows out air at about 175oC or 347oF. It's not that the dryer is AT that temp, but the ambient temperature would be well above 120oF. This is great for washing collateral, washables, but iffy for woolens.

Still, I did try an experiment. I had some yarn stash in this closet as well, and it was my more precious yarn. (Silly me, thinking it would be safer in the closet!). The yarn in question was some balls of Noro Kureyon. I slipped off the ball bands and put them dry in a garment bag and tumbled them for an hour. Not for the faint of heart, let me tell you! The yarn fared way better than I thought. maybe a teeny bit felty, but there was almost no lint in the trap. In the first batch, several balls unwound quite a bit, and it took HOURS to untangle them, but I secured the second batch better and it came out fine. I am now quite confident that I can pack the yarn away critter free. The balls are currently in ziplocks and I taped the ball bands with color and lot number on the outside, in case those weren't totally clean, although I looked them over. It's a scary option, but doable.

If only I had warmer or a cabinet that was at 120oF, I could avoid all this...WAIT! Perhaps I do! It is Summer, and although I am on the foggy coast, the last 2 days have been sunny. The Summertime warning for pets and children in closed cars are everywhere, so why not cook my yarn and woolens! last I checked, the car temp was 105oF, and I have two bins of woolies baking in the back seat. It's easy and worth a try, I say. Cook you nasty moths!! I definitely suggest this as an option to those in warm climes with the same problems.

Nevertheless, this is going to be a big job. Wish me luck!