16 - 2009

Sweater storage

Spring is just around the corner. That means it’s time to go through the closet, trade winter clothes for summer ones, and store away old sweaters. It’s also a great time for a flurry of cleaning, getting rid of what you don’t need to make room for a fresh season.

Storing sweaters

Any clothes you store away should be clean, of course. But sometimes with sweaters, storage is especially challenging. Especially for knit garments of wool, alpaca or other animal fiber, take extra precautions:

  • Take each sweater out and look it over to make sure it’s really clean. Sweaters are often worn, aired and put back in the closet because they weren’t next to the skin — but you wouldn’t want to store away that spot of cake on the cuff for the winter.
  • Give it a good sniff test and examination. Even skin oils can attract moths that will want to live the winter munching on your woolen goods.
  • Wash sweaters per the tag instructions. Some wool sweaters can be washed in the machine on cold water, but you do risk stretching the garment out. Don’t wash a wool sweater in warm water, and NEVER, EVER dry it in the dryer — it’s likely to come out sized to fit a child and with the wrong texture — felted! Best to hand wash in cold water (you can use a mild soap such as Dr. Bronner’s). Rinse well. Roll in a towel to dry, then lay flat, shaped as you want it to be when dry (this is called blocking). Be sure sweaters are completely dry before storing.
  • Store sweaters folded, in an airtight container.
  • Do not use mothballs. They are made with naphthalene, which is toxic to us as well as rodents and insects — and of course, they’ll make your clothes smell disgusting.
  • If you are concerned about moths, open your box and check your clothes every month. You’ll see live moths (probably the males) and maybe eggs, which look like little white flecks.
  • If you are REALLY concerned about moths, you can eliminate them by freezing your garments. Freeze the sweater for a week; remove it from the freezer for several days; freeze again for a week, and you will have killed moths and eggs that might be lurking in your wardrobe.

And for my fellow Gen-Xers out there, brighten up your Monday with a video of Weezer’s “Sweater Song.” (Sorry – they won’t let me embed it here.)

Did I forget something? Share your sweater storage tips (or nightmares) here. And tomorrow … ideas to do something with those sweaters you just aren’t that into anymore.

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