Well friends, here we are at the end of Mothstravaganza! We’ve talked about moth food and housing preferences, learning how to keep our sweaters from being so darn tasty in the process. Then we chatted about rodents loving peanut butter cups -and how to keep our yarn stashes from becoming a moth magnet. When last we met I told you to put lightly infested yarn in a ziptop bag, then pop it in your freezer or car, and you finally thought to yourself, “Self, that Julia’s really gone round the twist. Not sure where she’s going with this one!”
Sit on down over here, get comfy, we’re gonna talk about dealing with moth damage now.
First off, killing a moth is easy, they’re slow and stupid so one squish and Bob’s your uncle. But killing LOTS of moths, especially their teeny-tiny eggs, each like a grain of sand, each moth laying—well, I don’t want to gross you out, let’s leave it at “many” and call it a day, now that’s a serious challenge. We’ve talked before about naphthalene (moth balls), with their toxic fumes and their Grandma’s Attic smell. If an infestation is so bad it’s either moth balls or selling your home as future firewood, choose the mothballs. If the first thought that comes to mind when you see the damage ISN’T “this could be solved with some lighter fluid and a blowtorch,” go ahead and put the mothballs out of mind and read on. The secret to ending a moth infestation is killing off the moths, their larvae and their eggs, all at once. Killing the eggs is the hardest part, and the most important. The easiest way to kill off the pests in ALL their life stages is through extreme heat, or extreme cold. Put the blowtorch down, Sparky, not like that. First things first, if washing is an option, wash the damaged item and lay it flat to dry very thoroughly. Once done, or if washing is just not in the cards (balls of yarn etc), move on to the next step.
Option 1: Cold
Remember I told you to put the Ziplock bags with lightly mothmunched yarn in the freezer last week? That’s because freezing will kill moth eggs…eventually. This trick works with yarn or sweaters, but involves you having a big enough freezer to allow bags of wool and woolies to lie there for at least a week. Don’t cheat, one week, minimum. Two is even better. Freezing won’t damage yarn or sweaters, as long as they are completely dry to begin with! Once out of the freezer, leave somewhere undisturbed for a few hours to return to room temperature. Then take the items outside, give them a good shake to knock any (dead) eggs or larvae out, and place in a FRESH plastic ziptop bag with generous lavender or eucalyptus or cedar, and store. Done! We’ll talk mending holey sweaters at some future date, I promise.
Option 2: Heat
Nope, still not the blowtorch, I told you to put that down! Moth eggs die at temperatures over 120°F. Luckily, most of us have something handy that reaches well over that temperature all summer long, and won’t damage either yarns or sweaters in the process. Ready for this?…(drumroll)…it’s your car. Remember how you’re never supposed to leave your pets, children, or any other living thing in a hot car? That’s because a car parked in a sunny spot with the windows up reaches about 140°F in 20 minutes. So take your ziptop bags of yarn or moth-damaged sweaters, put them in the back seat, roll up the windows, and park in a driveway or on a sunny street when the weather forecast calls for a sunshiny week! A week won’t damage any of the woolens, but will kill those moths and eggs good and dead. One caveat: your items must be completely dry to begin with! After the week, take the items outside, give them a good shake to knock any (dead) eggs or larvae out, and place in a FRESH plastic ziptop bag with generous lavender or eucalyptus or cedar, and store. That’s it!
We’ll talk darning, mending visibly and invisibly, embroidery on knits, all sorts of good stuff another time. For now, go make some creme brulé or something, and put that blow torch to good use, ya pyro!
Happy knitting, friends!