Closet Maintenance

My closet is a sacred place. In London and Paris, half my clothes used to be in a loft or attic, because my bedroom was never large enough to house my whole wardrobe. Now I am extremely lucky, because I not only have a walk-in closet in our spare room, but I have actually transformed the entire spare room into my closet (there is a bed in there too, somewhere, for guests…)

Since I have this wonderful closet, I have become obsessive about maintaining it. This is for several reasons. Firstly, I want to be able to find and see everything, so I can constantly be reminded of how fabulous my wardrobe is, and make sure I rotate my clothes as much as possible. Secondly, because I don’t want moths or any other hideous creatures making themselves comfortable there.

I have lost a few great items to moths, so I am very pedantic when it comes to moth prevention. Also, I have been unable to find the lovely natural moth repellant I used to buy at one of my favourite London department stores, so I have developed a new system for closet maintenance here in Vancouver. And I am about to share it with you.

  1. Wash the closet walls with bleach (make sure to rinse properly) and vacuum every corner before putting your clothes away.
  2. Make sure all clothing in the closet is clean. This may sounds weird, but sometimes you might wear a shirt of jacket a few times before you clean it. Moths are attracted to dirty clothing (they love armpits.) Air out your coats if you can’t afford to dry clean them all, clean your shirts, and wash everything else. Most washing machines nowadays have handwash cycles. I have put nearly everything in there, evening wear, down jackets, knitwear, and have never had a problem. But make sure to always handwash underwire bras. Any clothes I will wear more than once before cleaning again, I leave in a separate area. So for example, a pair of leggings that might get worn twice before being washed gets left in a separate basket, that is not in the closet.
  3. Freeze all wool, cashmere, and fur at the beginning of October. That kills the moth eggs. Trust me, this works. Put the clothing in a plastic bag (double the bags up) and freeze them for 48 hours. If you have a small freezer, rotate them.
  4. Keep the closet clean and tidy, moths and bugs have less places to hide. All of my folded clothes are in drawers, I shake my hung clothes frequently, bags in dust bags, shoes in boxes or in shoe racks.
  5. I created a spray that is 20 parts distilled  water, 1 part cedar wood essential oil (thanks Camille for the suggestion) and I spray it into my closet a few times a week. Not directly onto the clothes, but around the closet so it smells of cedar wood. This smells really nice, and moths hate it. I am still working on a recipe that will last a bit longer, so I only have to spray once a week, I am open to suggestions.
  6. Take cotton balls and drop 3-6 drops of cedar wood essential oil onto them. Leave these balls in every corner of your closet (floors, shelves, etc…) and in the four corners of every drawer.
  7. If you see anything flying around near your precious clothes, presume the worst, and take preventative measures. There is no reason why you can’t freeze things twice a year, I am not sure if it is more effective, but I always feel more comfortable with my best cashmere in the freezer. When I get my dream closet, there will be a freezer in it for all of my cashmere.
  8. Cedar wood blocks also work, but remember you need to sand them quite frequently to make sure they are emitting scents. Cedar wood trunks are great for things you don’t wear very often. Lavender is also an alternative to cedar wood, moths don’t like that either. Dropping oil onto kleenex and putting them into your drawers works as well as cotton balls, just make sure the oil doesn’t stain your clothes.

Keep in mind that this is not a five minute job, it takes a full weekend to properly sort out your closet, but well worth it. There is no point spending money on clothing if you don’t invest in the time to maintain them.

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