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Storing Clothes to Prevent Mold and Moths Naturally

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Protect Your Investment

Knowing how to store clothes to prevent mold and moths is an important way to protect your investment. Every year clothes are removed from storage only to end up in landfills and scrap piles because they have been ruined by mold, mildew, and moths.

It isn't necessary to add poison, or use dangerous chemicals. A few simple steps can keep your clothing as good as new for years to come.

Lavender Image: http://driedflowersrus.com
Lavender Image: http://driedflowersrus.com

Prepare for Storage

Preparation is the key to anything. It isn't any different when trying to keep moths out of your favorite lamb's wool sweater over the summer. A few moments of careful preparation will make a huge difference when it is time to unpack the clothes.

  • Store clean items- this sounds so basic but many people put clothing away without it being cleaned or even washed. Organic materials in fabrics, such as spilled food, dirt, or even sweat, attracts pest but it also give mold a place to grow. Always have your garments clean when storing.

  • Seal in plastic bags with no holes- Ziploc puts out a huge plastic bag for storage, now. Plastic bags will keep the moths and mold out unless there is larvae or mold spores sealed in with the clothing. Be careful, some clothing (furs for example) should not be stored sealed in plastic.
  • Watch the humidity- Mold grows best in a warm, damp environment. Use a de-humidifier or store in an area that has good ventilation, such as louvered doors.

  • In cases of difficult to control moisture use silica gel, or activated alumina
  • Don't carpet closet or storeroom floors- moths and beetles find carpet to be excellent housing.

How to Make Your Own Natural Mothballs

Say No to Chemicals

Many people use mothballs to keep moths away from their clothes, but there are healthier ways that work as well. Mothballs have toxic chemicals in them, and out-gas these chemicals for long periods of time. The chemicals are absorbed into the fibers of the clothing.

If you use the main chemicals of moth balls, DDVP or PDB, near plastic dry-cleaning bags, coat buttons or metallic fabrics the chemicals can make the plastic become sticky, damage the metallic fabric or buttons, or even cause leather to fade. Keeping that in mind, are these chemicals something you want near your skin?

Natural Moth Repellents

  • Aromatic Cedar-repels bugs

  • Artemisia- powdered it repels moths
  • Costmary-repels insects in fabrics
  • Lavender-storing clothes and linens with stems of lavender between layers is an age old moth preventative. And it smells great!
  • Sage-scatter dried leaves among clothing items to deter insects
  • Santolina-hang in closets to deter moths
  • Sweet Woodruff- repels moths

Essential oils can also be used when storing clothes. Just put a few drops of the oil of choice on a cotton ball and place in the storage bag with the garment or linen. Cedarwood, clove, rosemary, lavender, and sage are good choices, alone or in a combination that pleases you.

Stains?

What if you all ready have stains on your clothing?

Try blotting the area with lemon juice and leaving outside on a sunny day. The lemon and the sun with bleach and disinfect, and hopefully remove the spot. Rinse thoroughly.

If you need to remove mildew from leather clothing, wipe them with a cloth moistened with a solution of one cup alcohol to one cup water.

A Word About Mold Prevention

Clothing must be completely dry when put away. Damp fabric is a gourmet treat for mold and mildew spores. After you wash and dry your clothing, run it through an extra drying cycle, adding some lavender essential oil on a cloth. Allow the clothes to cool completely before storing.

By following these simple steps you can be secure in the knowledge that the clothing you put away today will be in good condition when you get them out tomorrow.

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    • kellyteam profile image

      Willette 5 years ago from Michigan

      There are some useful tips here. Natural remedies is always the better way to go. Thumbs up! thanks

    • profile image

      milawalker 5 years ago

      I will do exactly what you have stated above. I've been having a lot of problems with molds in my closet as we speak.

      custom shirts dallas(http://edwardbaumann.com/history/)

    • yellow2mato profile image

      yellow2mato 5 years ago from Texas

      Great idea about the lavender. I have some growing in my garden, and am dealing with moths.

    • davesnell profile image

      davesnell 5 years ago from 5437 Cedarmint Drive, Charlotte, N.C. 28227

      Great suggestion on the mold prevention.Useful one

    • profile image

      darlene olson 5 years ago

      I store all my christmas things in plastic bins. When I tale them out to put them up, I suffer asthma from the mold. What can I do to store them without the mold?

    • profile image

      Maria 5 years ago

      Does the scents have to be 100% natural scents or what brand do you recomend?

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Super tips--thanks for the timely reminder. It's important to get mildew and moths taken care of right!

    • jenscott profile image

      jenscott 6 years ago from United States

      Wonderfully useful hub! I was just getting ready to store my winter clothes so I can break out my summer duds and now I know how to do it right!

    • profile image

      max 7 years ago

      I kill about 2-3 moths/day. (They have been identified as clothing moths.) I have used Allure pheromone traps - nothing was trapped. Now, my entire house - closets, drawers are filled with both cedar blocks, balls, chips and lavendar sachets. This does not seem to affect the moths in the least. HELP!

    • profile image

      Nat 8 years ago

      Thanks heaps for this! My husband and I are moving overseas soon and will be storing everything in a metal storage container. I've been wondering how to store my clothes safely and cheaply without having to use toxic mothballs or spending a heap on specialised storage smelly things. Now I've found I can just use lavendar oil and cotton wool balls!!! Hooray!