Cleaning and Storing Garments to Prevent Insect Damage
Mysteriously appearing holes may be the result of insect damage. Often the holes may not be readily apparent until after cleaning. Garments that have been stored for a long time are particularly prone to insect damage. Moth damage is commonly seen on wool fabrics, but beetles, silverfish, roaches, and other insects feed on stains and sizings on fabrics made of other fibers. The type of fabric or food substance insects are attracted to determines whether the damage they cause is direct or indirect.
Types of Damage
Direct damage occurs when insects such as webbing cloth moths, casemaking cloth moths, and sometimes termites, feed directly on the fabric. This group of insects attacks wool, mohair, natural bristles, fur, feathers, and down. They also damage blended fibers such as wool/polyester - dispelling the notion that the use of synthetic fibers immunizes the fabrics against insect damage.
Indirect damage occurs when insects such as silverfish, beetles, and roaches feed on leftover food, perspiration, beverage spills, and starch on the fabric. For this reason, any stains, especially food and beverage residue, should be removed from a garment before it is stored. Prevention of insect damage includes cleaning garments and using mothballs or cedar chests. Cleaning discourages insects from making their home in your garments. Although most forms of moth life are destroyed by drycleaning solvents during cleaning, moth larvae can attack fabrics once the solvent evaporates.
Storage and Prevention
Using moth balls or cedar chests or chips can help prevent insect damage. The odor of mothballs may repel larvae and insects if the area of use is enclosed, thus ensuring a high concentration of odor. Suspend the mothballs above the garments; do not place them directly on the garments. The scent of cedar chests or chips repels insects, but it is the air tightness of the chest that protects the garments from insect damage.
One problem with using mothballs is the lingering odor after the garments are removed from storage. Try hanging the garments outside for several days after removal from storage. If hanging outside won’t remove the mothball odor, ask us to remove the odors.
If the damage has already been done but you are still willing to wear the item with minor signs of repair then we may be able to help. Garments with thicker or coarser fabrics can be repaired with minor to no visible signs of damage after repairs are made. If the garment is made of finer fabrics then they may be repaired with patches on patterns that hide them well or by closing the damaged areas shut with a stitch. Bring in these items if you feel they may be worth saving and we will do our best to provide you with suitable options for repair.