Friday, May 4, 2012

Moths, Silverfish, and Carpet Beetles: Avoid Garment Damage

It's officially May! When I think of May, I think of flowers, gardening, tank tops, and fun in the sun! Yep--May marks the beginning of the warm season. Time to finally put away those sweaters, coats, mittens, gloves, hats, and long sleeves.

We talk a lot about clothing storage here at Margaret's Cleaners because it's important. Clothing is not cheap, and taking proper care of your garments ensures years of wear and use.

The challenge: Avoid damage to clothing from carpet beetle, moth and silverfish larvae. 

This article from The Wall Street Journal features Doug Greenberg, vice president of Garde Robe, a company that specializes in luxury clothing storage. Garde Robe has locations in New York and San Diego and provides services nationwide.

Greenberg discusses the best way to store clothing, how to care for garments, and when to thoroughly clean out closets and luggage.

  • Store garments only after they've been cleaned.
  • Never store clothing for months or longer without cleaning them.
  • Purchase a garment steamer to sterilize garments and kill bacteria.
  • Vacuum inside closets and luggage regularly to rid of bugs and larvae.
  • Fold garments (especially knits) in acid-free tissue and store them in breathable fabric garment bags.
  • Never store cashmere or natural fibers in vacuum-sealed bags.
How Garde Robe makes it easier to store clothes the right way:
Switching your closets from spring/summer to fall/winter wardrobes can be a drag. Let the clothes storage experts at Garde Robe do it all for you. Garde Robe provides a complimentary closet consultation and advice, then we pick up your off-season and infrequently worn clothes and create your personal Cyber Closet Website with professional photos of every garment. Click on a photo and we'll deliver the garment the same day, ready to wear. Read more about Garde Robe's Seasonal Clothing Storage Service here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Storing Winter Clothing

Here is a valuable winter clothing storage blog from our high-altitude friends at 5280 magazine in Colorado.

Key Winter Clothing Storage Notes:

Make sure to clean knitwear and sweaters before storing them. Rather then store them on hangers, which can stretch and distort the fabric, carefully fold your knit garments with acid-free tissue to help prevent creases. Store knits in breathable fabric bags and boxes.

Leather is hygroscopic, which means that it readily absorbs moisture. After wearing a leather or suede jacket (or pants, gloves, etc.) after a humid, rainy, or damp day, allow them to air-dry completely in an open room before storing them in a closet. These items take up to a day and a half to dry thoroughly. Never store leather or suede in non-breathable plastic bags or in damp areas of the house, such as the basement or attic.

Shoes and Boots
When going through your shoe collection, decide whether you want to toss, donate, or keep the shoes. If you decide that you can part with your shoes, bring them to any Margaret's location to donate them to a good cause. Margaret's is a drop-off location for Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based nonprofit organization, which distributes shoes to people in need around the world.

Imagine Having Endless Closet Space...
It would be nice if we all had the closet space of a celebrity, but that's not always the case. Look to clothing storage companies, such as Garde Robe, for a solution to this problem. Garde Robe is a one-of-a-kind valet and wardrobe storage service that cares for your clothes in a climate- and humidity-controlled environment, complete with security service. Think of it as a closet away from your closet. And when you need an item, Garde Robe will prep it and have it delivered to your desired location.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Clothing Insect Damage

Have you ever noticed mysterious little holes that appear in your clothing, even though you never snagged your garment? Often, bugs are turning your sweater into a midnight snack.

Depending on the time of year, insect damage ranges from the second to the fifth most common consumer problem related to clothing. Moth larvae, carpet beetles, and silverfish are the top three culprits when it comes to fabric damage.

Direct Insect Damage
Insects that feed directly on the fabric cause direct damage. Bugs are especially attracted to food stains and body oil.

Indirect Insect Damage
Insects that feed on spilled food or perspiration cause indirect damage. Bugs causing indirect damage generally leave "trails" on the fabric surface, but will not create holes in the fabric.

Why Does Insect Damage Happen?
Because clothes are usually stored in dark, warm places, insects and their larvae have a wonderful opportunity to feed undisturbed. A warm, moist location is the ideal growing condition for insects. Most damage occurs during the larval stage of the insects' growth. The adult insects gravitate toward food sources (fabrics with remnants of soil and stains) and warm and moist areas. Avoid storing clothing in garages, basements, and attics.

If you suspect insect damage, inspect your garments for holes. Hold each garment against a light source, and then gently stretch the fabric to make any holes visible. Insect damage includes actual holes, moth eggs (small, white grain-like granules), and larvae.

If You Find Evidence
  • Remove everything in the infested area
  • Vacuum the entire house
  • Wash all areas of the infested area
  • Spray the infested area with bug spray
  • Launder or dry clean all clothing
  • Contact a reputable pest control company
  • Use traps
  • Practice good housekeeping: Vacuum frequently and thoroughly. Make sure to clean dusty windowsills. Dust and deceased insect accumulation can be a favorite hangout for carpet beetles. Pet hair is also a favorite food source for bugs. 
  •  Do a deep cleaning of your house at least two times per year. 
  • Periodically remove items from your closets and drawers and vacuum the area.
  • Don't hang onto wool garments unless you absolutely have to.
  • Brush clothing regularly.
For more specific information regarding the prevention and removal of clothes moths, carpet beetles, and silverfish, download the FREE FashionableCare newsletter.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Winter Garment Care

Even if you live in Southern California, you know that wintertime can be cold and wet. While we might not experience the blizzards of the midwest, wintertime in SoCal can mean damp, cold, foggy mornings and evenings. The extra moisture calls for extra garment care, especially when it comes to natural fabric and fibers, such as leather, suede, and wool.

This article from the Charlotte Observer offers some sound garment care tips. To add to your arsenal of information, here are some more tips to care for your wintertime garments:

Moths and other bugs love animal fibers. Bugs are attracted to food, perfume, perspiration, etc. Make sure all clothing is clean before hanging or storing in a closet. To deter moths from damaging your garments, place cedar balls in garment bags and closets.

Use mothballs sparingly. Mothballs have a distinct scent that is often permanent, even after dry cleaning. Mothballs are designed for use with long-term archival and shouldn't be used with garments you plan on wearing in the near future. If you choose to use mothballs, wrap them in layers of tissue paper to avoid contact with the fabric.

Leather & Suede
Leather is hygroscopic, which means that it readily absorbs moisture. After wearing a leather or suede jacket (or pants, gloves, etc.) after a humid, rainy, or damp day, allow them to air-dry completely in an open room before storing them in a closet. These items take up to a day and a half to dry thoroughly. And, as the article mentions, never store leather or suede in non-breathable plastic bags or in damp areas of the house, such as the basement or attic.

Because fur requires lots of room to breathe, it's best to store these items in a closet with extra space, or take advantage of storage and valet services such as Garde Robe. Garde Robe is a high-end storage company that takes museum-quality photos of your garments, catalogs the items on the website, and then stores everything in a climate-controlled environment.

Bottom Line: Taking care of your winter garments ensures that you'll have many, many years of use. If you ever have questions about cleaning or caring for a garment, call your professional dry cleaner for guidance.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guide to Knit Care

As the temperature decreases, the emergence of thick, cozy knit sweaters, scarves, hats, and even shoes increases. Knit is a practical, yet stylish fabric that provides warmth, comfort, and durability; however, knit fabric has the potential to overstretch and distort if cared for improperly. Check out the Guide to Knit Care edition of FashionableCare to learn important knitwear details that will help you keep knit garments looking new.

Unique button
When purchasing knitwear, ask the sales representative for extra buttons. If the buttons fall off, it can be nearly impossible for the seamstress to find a perfect match, which can alter the appearance of the garment.

Purchase knit separates together within the same season to ensure perfectly matched items. Dye lots can vary—often dramatically—from season to season.

Breathable sweater bag
Avoid hanging knits because gravity can distort the garment’s shape. Store knit garments in breathable sweater bags to help them retain their shape and keep them clean.

After the winter, store knit garments in a cedar chest or in a cedar-lined closet to keep them fresh and free from insect damage.

Or for long-term storage, enlist the climate-controlled, off-site storage facilities and services of Garde Robe to free up space in your closet.

Clean knit garments at least once per season and/or shortly after being soiled. Invisible stains, such as hairspray or oil, oxidize over time, making them difficult to remove.

If you choose to hand wash knits, follow these tips:

  • Wash one garment at a time.
  • Fill a tub with approximately 6” of lukewarm water.
  • Use Ivory Snow flakes to develop a few suds as you agitate the water.
  • Place the garment in the tub, gently lifting and lowering the garment.
  • Do not twist the fabric.
  • Empty the tub, and then gently press out the excess water; do not wring or twist the garment.
  • Fill the tub with water, and then place the garment back into the tub, lifting and lowering the item to rinse.
  • Gently press out the excess water; do not wring or twist the garment.
  • Rinse the garment in fresh water to thoroughly remove all soap.
  • Lay the item flat on a dry towel. Press the garment with another dry towel to remove excess water.
  • Do not allow the garment to lay on a wet towel.

Knit blocking is the process of changing the size or shape of a knit garment, or returning the knit item to its original dimensions by redistributing the knit weave. No alterations are involved. Typically, it’s possible to reduce knits to half-size or increase a size and a half without over-blocking. Margaret's has over 50 years of knit-blocking experience.

More Information
For more information on knitwear care, traveling tips, storage ideas, cleaning solutions, repairing and restoring techniques, and more, download the Guide to Knit Care edition of FashionableCare.