Monday, December 3, 2012

The Hole Story on Cashmere Sweaters


Upon unfolding a red cashmere crew-neck sweater a few days ago, I discovered two holes made by moths on the left sleeve. I love this sweater and feel heartsick that it has been ruined by the pesky varmint.



I have researched ways to repair moth holes and learned that the very expensive reweaving process done by professionals is not always satisfactory. 

I also found several home repair methods, and may try one that involves finding a matching thread and pulling the sweater threads together on the back side. (Wish me luck finding the correct thread in the right color!)

Fortunately, I believe the red sweater is salvageable for future wear, as the sleeves can be pushed up to hide the damaged area.

Two moth holes on the right sleeve of the sweater.


Further inspection of other sweaters revealed that a cream colored cashmere turtleneck likewise has one moth hole at the front neckline just below the turtleneck fold over. This may not be fixable, as the damage is in a very conspicuous location.

It’s odd that two black cashmere sweaters – a v-neck and crew neck – do not have damage. And all these sweaters were stacked one on top of the other.
So I’m wondering: Do moths have a color preference?

I  have read all the advice on how the sweaters must be thoroughly cleaned after wearing and before storage. And the unpleasant descriptions of what the moths do, which I won’t bore you with here.

Insofar as using moth repellents, the use of moth balls is not recommended because of their high toxicity. I read about making small fabric sachet bags that can be filled with various herbs and spices such as cedar chips, mint, peppercorns, eucalyptus, thyme, rosemary, cloves, cinnamon sticks, dried lemon peel and lavender buds. I may try to make some of these.

Have you had the experience of your fine sweaters being damaged by moths? Do you use anything in your closets/bureau drawers to prevent these damaging pests from doing damage? Please share any advice you have. Thanks!

18 comments:

  1. In Seattle, we had carpet beetles that loved cashmere and wool. My husband's aunt said to put bay leaves in with my sweaters and I never had another problem. Not with moths or carpet beetles. I'm told that in Tulsa, crickets eat your clothes. Haven't had a problem yet.

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    1. 0H WOW Haven't heard of crickets eating fabric. Good luck; hope that doesn't happen to you!

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  2. The red cashmere sweater has such a nice rich colour, I do hope you're able to repair it with thread. As you said, since the damage is limited to the sleeve area the repairs won't be visible.
    As for moth repellent, I always put sacks of dried Dalmatian lavender in my drawers and closets and up to today, it has been an absolute winner. I also clean all the shelves and the insides with glass cleaner twice a year, let the furniture air out and then fold the clothes back in.

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    1. Hi Anna,
      Lavender as a repellent was one of the recommendations. I once made lavender sachets for closets/drawers and I suppose it's time to do that again. Thanks for the tips on how you clean air things out.

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  3. Sorry about your pretty red sweater. I had two that were damaged a few years ago - one was black. The thread method did work on it-- maybe because it was black.

    I have little bags of cedar hanging in my closet - Wayne cut it from a dead cedar tree and there is more - want some?

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    1. I would love to have some of the cedar! Yes, please save some for me. Good to hear the thread repair worked on your black sweater. And now I know that moths aren't particular about what color garment they attack!

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  4. Moths in one piece, might mean that there are more.
    Were I you, I´d wash all my knitwear, iron them and set them in the fridge for 24 hours in plastic bags, to be extra sure.
    The cedar + all other stuff could be placed after a cleaning of the closet.

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    1. Mette, all my cashmere sweaters say "Dry Clean Only." I have in the past hand washed in cold water. Do you wash yours? The refrigerator treatment is interesting and I can see how it would work. Thanks for that tip!!

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    2. Yes, I hand wash my cashmeres. I would not like the idea of having them dry cleaned - what sort of chemicals are used, etc..
      My knitwear gets washed in the end of the season, in between, I air them.
      We also take our mattress´s & bed wear out for a day, when it is -25°C, the other option would take them to the hot sauna, but that is a bit too much work, as the sauna is not right beside the house.
      The wool oriental rugs are also taken out for airing when -25°C and brushed " clean " with the fresh snow.
      Now that is quite an operation, trust me ; ).

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    3. Sandra, you can find a product called Pro Pest Cloth Moth traps on Amazon.com. I had a cashmere blazer and scarf ruined by the cloth moths. I googled it for how to get rid of them an found this product recommended. It is actually the moth larvae sometimes instead of the moths themselves that chew up your clothes an the article stated your closet usually becomes contaminated by a vintage garment (I have two old highschool football jackets and my husband's Marine jacket in my closet and suspect the larvae was in on of this garments. Any items that haven't been cleaned in a while can be the culprit. Hope this helps!

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  5. Sanda, your blog is a wealth of info! I've had moth damage and going to try all of the above. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Areeda,
      I was pleased I got everyone's cure for moths. I imagine I'll do overkill and try all of the recommendations, as I don't want to risk damage to my remaining sweaters.

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  6. I am at constant war against the dreaded moths. I keep most of my delicate sweaters in bags especially when I store them away for the winter. I hang some sort of sticky anti moth papers up these attract the female moths which stick to them before they get to the clothes and are therefore unable to lay eggs on my clothes. A few have got through creating small holes. These I have had repaired very successfully even on the collar of an old Armani jacket.

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    1. The sticky papers are a great idea. I have received so many helpful hints here that I want to try all of them. Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. Oh dear! Hope you can repair the holes. I haven't been bothered by moths. I do handwash cashmere and other sweaters.

    Darla

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    1. OK, I will try hand washing in Woolite and cold water instead of continuing the expensive proposition of dry cleaning. Thanks.

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  8. “I love this sweater and feel heartsick that it has been ruined by the pesky varmint.” - It is definitely heart-breaking to see holes on your garment, especially if it is your favorite. Well, one advice that I can offer is to have a clean storage space for your garments. Although your closet can be candidate for storage, jackets and cashmere need special care and attention. A special storage would help you protect clothing pieces like these.[Joel Salmon]

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  9. This is a rather old post, but I thought I'd add what I've read recently. A refrigerator treatment won't do anything for moths. Even the freezer won't kill the eggs though some people put knits in the freezer for a few weeks and then take it out for a few weeks to let any eggs hatch and then put it back in for a few weeks, back and forth, back and forth, all the while keeping the item in a sealed bag to prevent spreading the moths. OR, you can use heat, which is what I decided to do. The oven needs to be at least 120 degrees F and the item must be in there for 30 minutes. I put a small saucepan of water on the lowest rack so it wouldn't get too dry and then folded my wool sweater and placed it on a baking sheet on the middle rack and just to be sure, I set the oven at 225 and left the sweater in there for 45 minutes, reversing the fold of the sweater midway through so that nothing could hide in the interior folds.

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