Now that it’s officially spring time, let’s talk about how to properly store your fall and winter scarves. When temps start to warm up it’s easy just to place them aside and forget about them…. and the results can be disastrous! It’s especially crucial when dealing with delicate materials like silk, cashmere, and wool. Let’s start with the scariest word of all, the M word… no not your Mother… the other scary M word moths!
I’ll never forget, years ago I bought a purple cashmere scarf. It was gorgeous and luxurious. I gently wore it and at the end of the season I simply folded it up over a hanger in my closet and went on with my life. Then the next fall I took it out to wear it and it was shredded with holes. I was devastated, and I never saw a single moth in my closet! Moths can lay up to 40 eggs a week and their little babies will happily feast on your new Burberry cashmere scarf quietly all through the season without making a peep. Moths definitely have great taste in clothes! Prevention is key, so here are my tips to help keep your scarves in tip top shape so they will look gorgeous and last for years.
ONLY STORE CLEAN SCARVES
Cleaning is crucial at the end of the fall and winter season. Moths get active when the weather warms up… and I bet your scarves are dirty! Even if they don’t look dirty, if you have worn them they have sweat, perfume, and body oils on them… which all attract moths! They love to feast on cashmere, silk, wool, and other natural fibers, but you should wash your scarves made of synthetic materials too, any odors or body residue could attract moths making it easy to find your delicates. Washing or dry-cleaning will kill any moth eggs and larvae preventing infestations. Even if you aren’t worried about moths, storing your scarves with perfume or body oils could cause damaging discoloration.
YOU CAN HAND WASH DRY-CLEAN ONLY SCARVES
Most scarves that are silk, cashmere, and wool say dry clean only. I hand wash all my dry clean only scarves for several reasons but the main reason is I just don’t want dry cleaning chemicals around my neck. Washing an expensive dry clean only scarf the first time is a bit scary, but I do it all the time. You definitely need to use caution to prevent damage and shrinkage. I’ve washed many cashmere, silk, and wool scarves, even many of my Burberry and Louis Vuitton ones without any damage at all.
Baby shampoo makes a great gentle detergent as well as Woolite. Eucalan is a gentle no rinse detergent that is designed for washing delicate fabrics and comes in scented and unscented versions. It makes hand washing delicate items a breeze.
I like to wash my scarves in a large bowl because I worry my scarves could snag or there might be damaging cleaning product residue in the sink. A bowl also prevents too much movement while the fabric is in a wet delicate state, plus is easier to drain and rinse. I use cold water and about a tablespoon of gentle detergent. To rinse I empty the bowl and very lightly squeeze (don’t wring or twist) to remove a little water.
Place the wet scarf on a towel on the floor, taking care not to stretch the scarf while transferring it and gently roll to remove excess water. Use another towel if needed to gently remove as much water as you can and lay flat to dry. Do not hang to dry because this could also result in stretching. I love this drying rack, and it stores flat. If this terrifies you then stick with dry cleaning.
Scarves made of synthetic material should also be washed at the end of the season, moths won’t want to munch on them but the scent of anything dirty longterm in your closet will attract them. I usually wash mine on the gentle cycle in the washing machine and air dry.
USE THE FREEZER
Did you know putting your scarves in the freezer is great for them? Freezing your scarves will prevent any annoying shedding and bonus you can also kill off the eggs and larvae. Place your scarves in a bag for protection and on a shelf in your freezer and freeze for 48 hours. This will kill anything. Any time you buy anything vintage or pre-owned put it in the freezer first!
USE A STEAMER
Unless I’m wearing a crisp white button down shirt I’m really not a fan of using an iron. I’ve damaged too many items, and don’t get me started on those shiny ironing marks! I’ve even had items come home from the dry cleaners with marks. Investing in a steamer is the way to go when it comes to getting wrinkles out and of your scarves. I have a large home steamer and always take our travel steamer with us on vacations now.
Short term hanging is fine in between uses but I’m not a fan of those hanging scarf racks. Surprisingly I’ve had a lot of scarves snag on the edges and I find them really thick and bulky in closets. They also create a lot of cozy spots for moths to lay eggs. Folding is a much better option and prevents any possible stretching. Roll thinner scarves to help prevent wrinkling if that’s an issue.
I’ve bought cedar blocks and other moth preventatives before, but I find storage bags to be the best option. I love these storage bags from The Container Store, they’re sturdy, come in different sizes, and give me peace of mind! It’s also a great way to keep them organized. These bags also offer protection while in the freezer.
Not every moth you see is the clothes-eating kind. But if you do see one flying around your closet it’s probably best to spring into action. Removing any items made of cashmere, wool, silk, or any other animal fibers and place them in the freezer to kill eggs or larvae. Wash anything that could be dirty, and empty any food crumbs from bags. Moths hate disturbance so shake out piles of folded clothes, vacuum and wipe down shelves…. and don’t forget those dark creepy corners of your closet either, that’s there favorite spot!
Luxury scarves can be quite an investment, following these tips are guaranteed to give your scarves a longer life. Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to wash those scarves!