Get Rid of Moths and Mildew

A visitor to the message board asked for advice about storing winter clothing to prevent moths and mildew. That's a good question on a timely subject.

They're both nuisances, but they're not the same thing, of course. One (moths) is animal, the other (mildew, or mold) is vegetable—but both are likely to attack clothing that isn't clean when you put it away.

Keep it clean
Wash or dry-clean anything that you want to pack away until the fall, or at least air-dry and brush out the garments. Mildew finds nourishment in dirty clothing; even with synthetic fibers, it may grow on any soil that's on the surface. And "soil" is a broad category. For example, moths and carpet beetles will nibble on hair, lint and dust as well as the clothing it's served on.

Turn up the heat
Mildew is commonly found in the very places you're likely to store your out-of-season wardrobe: basements, closets and dresser drawers. To reduce the likelihood of mildew in these areas, reduce the moisture in the area.

The heat from a continuously lit 60- to 100-watt bulb may be enough to keep a small closet warm and dry. (Make sure the bulb won't touch any clothing so it's not a fire hazard). In large or very humid areas, you may need a de-humidifier. A drying agent may be helpful, too. An open container or a cloth bag filled with an absorbent chemical such as silica gel, activated alumina or anhydrous calcium sulfate will keep a sealed closet dry. In cities, you may be able to get these chemicals from a scientific supply house (check the Yellow Pages); elsewhere, try a university extension center or college chemistry department. If the closet isn't sealed and the weather is humid, it also helps to use a fan to circulate the air.

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