Thursday, July 10, 2014

Flying Tigers

Photo courtesy Flickr 

An early twentieth-century edition of a Good Housekeeping manual points out that central heating means having to worry about clothes moths all year round. Whatever. Good mothkeeping also means controlling allergens and the abrasive dust that accelerates interior wear and tear. Respecting the human and animal resources that produce clothing and soft furnishings replaces many a pound of atmospheric CO2.

Owning good wool is a privilege that requires minor commitment to secure storage and to diligent maintenance. On Puget Sound, wool is a three and a half-season fabric that clothes best as light, variable layers rather than as ponderous arctic armor. Tweaking housekeeping to do right by the woolies is just standard practice. There’s no need to mothball. Simply keep things clean.

Moths like wool that has food residue on it. Hair and skin flakes are food, too, for future offspring. It’s good practice to brush wool coats at the end of the day. I’m partial to a small currying brush from a tack store. Brush hats as well, and hang a wool coat on a generous wooden hanger. Square it off and button the buttons. Groom knits gently with a brass suede brush. Wool and other animal fibers like cashmere and silk are living and sculptural, like hair. Attention at the end of the day will generate telling signs of care as a garment ages.

Regular use protects wool from moths, since it’s the larvae that chew holes in things. Store dormant clothing in a closet with a good-fitting door or in a chest or dresser. Muslin laundry bags protect blankets and work as clothes bags, too. Identify with parcel tags or a length of gaffer's tape and a white marker. Weekly vacuuming is the first line of defense against moths, that lay their eggs in dark places with chow. Textiles shed fibers onto the floor where they mix with dust and hair to form little variants of tumbleweed, known to some as dust bunnies.

Keep electrical cords off the floor and fit movable furniture with magical sliding castors to make it easy to shift those countless, inevitable legs for a thorough going over of a room. The time it takes to knot a cord to the right length to stay off the floor is time well invested. A knot can often be hidden. Careful cord management leaves a space looking surprisingly well kept. 

I find that making maintenance a priority displaces excess inventory and needlessly elaborate decoration. It also protects innocent insects. Reasonable, adequate maintenance pays off in good morale, good health, and a calm and productive atmosphere.


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