With a moth infestation the first order of business is to kill any and all moth eggs. Besides airing out my closet and scrubbing the floor, I had to clean every moth infested sweater and coat. After an extensive search on the web, I came across a three dismal options for killing moth eggs: chemicals, freezing, and heat.
- I could take all of my woolen sweaters and coats to the dry cleaners. My thought – too expensive and chemicals – yuck!
- I could stuff all my sweaters in the freezer for a week. While the freezing method was often sited as an option, it was also debunked in many of the articles I found online. Most home freezers are not cold enough to kill the moth eggs, and my small freezer certainly isn’t big enough to hold all my sweaters and coats for over a week! My thought – impractical.
- The final option is death by heat. But could I wash all of my fine woolens in hot water at 120°F? The sweater labels and most websites said no, but I found one site that said YES.
Fuzzy Galore claimed that felted sweaters are the result of agitation not heat. They claimed that the best way to loosen soil and deep clean wool sweaters was with hot water, a gentle cleanser like dawn dish-washing liquid (no Woolite please), and ABSOLUTELY NO AGITATION, not even gentle swirling.
I was skeptical at first. So I decided to test the hot water washing method described on Fuzzy Galore on a couple of wool scarfs. They came out beautifully!
So began the long arduous process of hand washing every sweater in my bathtub. I filled the tub with the hottest water out of the tap, added a textile detergent, and then gently sank the sweaters into the hot water with a wooden spoon without agitating them.
After the water cooled I removed the sweaters, drained the tub and filled it again with super hot water. I soaked the sweaters a third time in cool water. It took 24 hours for each batch of sweaters.
After the washing process, I gently squeezed the water out. Let them drain on the edge of the tub overnight, and finally blocked them on a layer of blankets and towels for another 24 hours.
It was a lot of work, but all my sweaters came out very clean and soft. None of them felted. I don’t know if the hot water was hot enough to kill all the eggs. I sent my coats to the dry cleaners and I was lucky that I had stored all my wool fabrics in plastic containers. So far so good… but only time will tell.
In the meantime my battle with the moths continued…