How to Keep Moths Away from Your Yarn and Knitting (and Save Your Stash If They’re Already There)
The last thing that you want to happen to your yarn stash is having it destroyed by moths. The moth larvae can wreak havoc on especially wool fibers, chewing holes into favorite woolens and balls of yarn.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep your stash and finished items moth-free! We’ll also show you what to do if you do find moths in your stash.
Part 1: Keeping your stash free of moths
Moths are attracted to wool fibers and their larvae feed on these protein fibers. They especially like dirty and dusty wool or wool that smells sweaty. It’s therefore imperative that you keep your stash as clean as possible so as not to make it attractive to the moths.
Here are easy steps to take to ensure the safety of your stash.
Don’t use mothballs
Not only do mothballs not smell nice, the chemicals that they’re made from are carcinogenic. You also can’t store wool and mothballs in plastic, as the chemicals in the mothballs could make the plastic melt onto the wool. So, this is a definite no-no for you, your wool, and the environment.
Go the natural route
Rather than using mothballs, you can go the natural route and use specific plants to keep moths at bay. Moths don’t like strong smells, so adding these scents to your stash will do much of the work to keep it moth-free.
The most popular scents to use, is cedar and lavender. Cedar blocks can be bought at most haberdashery and yarn shops but can also be bought online. You can also go all out and get a cedarwood chest for your stash.
Lavender sachets are also easy to obtain and place between the yarns in your stash. Lavender can also be grown in many different types of gardens. You could, therefore, use the lavender you grow in your garden to keep moths away inside the house.
Not keen on the scent of lavender? Don’t worry! You can also use the following spices and scents to keep them away. You can even make your own sachets like it was done for the lavender.
Keep the yarn sealed
Use sealed, airtight containers or bags to make sure that your yarn is completely sealed off from the rest of the environment.
Worried that there are already moth eggs in your yarn? Place the yarn in a sealed freezer bag and put it in the freezer for 24 – 48 hours. This will kill off any eggs that may be on the yarn.
You can even use sealable freezer bags to keep your yarn in if you don’t have containers or have space for the containers. Another option is vacuum bags to seal the yarn. Opening and closing the containers are then quite simple.
Keep your storage area clean
It’s not just the craft area that you need to keep clean to prevent moths – it’s the whole environment, from vents to the corners of wooden furniture.
The Spruce Crafts advises that you should: “…vacuum regularly in the room where your wool is stored, making sure to clean any woodwork and wooden furniture in the room as well. Moths love to get into the nooks and crannies of wooden furniture and into the carpets, so regular cleaning may help keep them from getting to your stash.
Remember to clean under furniture as well as heating vents and heaters. This is because moths love warm, moist environments. Cleaning your curtains or blinds are also important to get rid of any moth eggs.
Part 2: What to do to save your stash from moths
Right, so now you know how to keep moths away from your stash, but what if they’ve already found it?
Here’s how you can get rid of moths before repacking your stash in a way that will keep them moth-free.
When you first spot signs of an infestation, clean it immediately before it gets worse! Start by separating everything that’s obviously infected and those that is still okay.
Now comes the heartbreaking part… being honest about having to cull part of your stash.
Clearing out the stash
Go through the stash and look at each skein or ball individually. Remember that the damage is not just on the outside of the ball, so if the outside looks bad, the inside probably does as well.
Throw out the yarn that you can’t use anymore before moving on to the undamaged yarn. Whatever you do, don’t repack your stash just yet! You need to deep clean them and the cupboard where you store your stash first.
Cleaning the remaining stash
Extreme heat and cold will both kill moths and their larva and eggs, but we prefer using cold, as using heat – like an oven – can be extremely dangerous.
Place the yarn you’re keeping in sealable freezer bags before placing them in the freezer for one to two weeks.
(If you live in a warm area, you can also seal the yarn in the sealable bags and place them in the car in the sun for a week.)
While your yarn is being taken care of, you can start cleaning the rest of the space.
Cleaning the storage space
Use undiluted white vinegar to clean the entire storage space, paying special attention to any corners, nooks, and crannies where eggs may remain.
Using white vinegar is not just easier on the environment but is also safe to use around other pets.
You should also steam clean any carpeting in the room (the machines can usually be rented for a day or two from hardware shops and the like) and wash any clothes and curtains at a high temperature as well.
Doing a thorough cleaning now will keep recurring infestations from happening!
Now that the whole room is cleaned and moth-free, store your stash safely, using the steps in part on of this article.