Tips on preserving woollen and silk clothes
Woollens and silks keep you warm and looking elegant through the winter months! The onset of summer requires packing away of woollens and silks until the next winter season. Here is a step by step guide on how to protect your woollen and silk garments the natural way. But before that you need to understand why these clothing need an extra bit of precaution while storing.
Understand the need to pack woollens and silk properly
Ever wondered why you have to pack your woollen and silk clothes in a special manner? There are many reasons; and the same are explained below –
• Garments made from silk and wool don't come cheap. It would cost you a tidy sum if you were to buy winter wear at the beginning of every cold season. It is therefore better to be prudent and store them well so they can be used again in the next season. Unless of course you don't mind spending big bucks on an entire new wardrobe.
• Silk and wool are both natural fibers. Clothes made from natural fibers are vulnerable to infestation by clothes moths. Clothes moths are of different kinds and they all destroy silk and woollen fabrics. It is actually the moth larvae that feed on these fabrics if safety measures have not been taken to preserve them properly. The larvae eat the clothes, leaving small holes there by destroying the clothes, making them unfit for use.
Preparation before storing garments
Garments cannot be stored away as they are. You will be inviting trouble if the clothes are not properly cleaned before being packed away. Even if the clothes look clean you still need to go through the process of cleaning them before stowing them. There will be dead skin cells, food and dirt particles invisible to the naked eyes present on the clothes which will attract clothes moths. So follow a thorough cleaning procedure that will remove all residues and make the clothes absolutely clean.
• For home washing woollen garments use a detergent specially designed for such clothes. It is mild and does not spoil or altar the texture of the garment.
• Ensure that the woollens are completely dry and ready for storage.
• If you want to wash the woollens the eco-friendly way then use soap nut seeds for the washing.
• Alternatively you can have the woollens dry cleaned, which is as effective as hand washing.
• Silk is a delicate fabric and generally not washed at home.
• Have your silk sarees, shirts, ties, dresses, salwar suits dry cleaned at a reputed drycleaners.
Once you've washed and dry cleaned the clothes you are ready to stash them away. A few pointers that you need to keep in mind at the time of packing –
1. Pack your silks and woollens separately.
2. Segregate light colored clothes from darker ones, in case colors bleed.
3. Check for any rusted embellishments on the clothes, such as hooks, buttons etcetera. Remove if you find any as they will leave rust marks on your clothes.
You will need the following items for storing your clothes until next season –
1. Muslin cloth or any other soft white colored fabric.
2. Sun dried whole red chillies.
3. Sun dried Neem leaves.
4. Sun dried black pepper corns
5. Sun dried lavender flowers
All or any one of the items mentioned in the list from 2 – 5 can be used for keeping your garments safe. The reason why I am insisting on sun dried products is so there is no trace of moisture left in them. Moisture can cause mold to grow which will spoil your clothes instead of protecting them. If it is rainy weather and you can't dry the items in the sun, then place them in an oven or microwave for a while just so the moisture gets removed.
Method used for storing clothes
• You can either use a steel trunk or an almirah or bed box or a suitcase for storing your winter clothes.
• Avoid using an inbuilt cupboard, which can get damp during the rainy season if there is seepage in the walls, as the moisture can then transfer to your clothes.
• In case you have no other option, then throw some silica gel sachets in the cupboard for it to absorb moisture.
• Assume you are using a trunk or a suitcase, line the bottom with either neem leaves or whole chilies or both.
• If using red chilies use just a handful.
• Spread a muslin cloth over the ingredients in such a way that it covers the entire inside of the box with ample length hanging out of it.
• Place your clothes on top of the muslin, keeping heavy clothes at the bottom and lighter ones above them, so the weight of the heavy clothes does not squash clothes at the bottom.
• Make small sachets using a bit of muslin and place lavender and pepper corns in them.
• You can use them in combination or alone.
• Strategically place these sachets between clothes while you are packing them. You can use around palm sized sachets in the packing case.
• When the box is full, fold the overhanging piece of cloth over the packed clothes such that they are completely enclosed.
• Spread some more neem or chilies on the top, close the lid and secure the box.
When you open the box after a few months, you'll find your clothes intact just the way you left them.
Advantages of natural ingredients over chemical products
The method of storing clothes is tried and tested and has been in use in my family for at least four generations. I advocate this method of storing clothes as it is a green initiative, which I endorse.
• Using natural ingredients is always a better option as they don't leave a carbon footprint.
• Natural products are easily available.
• Moth balls or Naphthalene balls can cause allergic reactions in susceptible people.
• Naphthalene balls disintegrate with time and will need periodic replacement.
• They also tarnish sequins, 'zari', 'gota' and other gold work done on silk sarees.
• Moth balls can also react with the dyes used in colouring the fabrics, fading them unevenly, in blotches.
Use these naturals methods to store your winter clothes.
© 2013 Juana Aman