The Bane of my Existence

You guessed it.  Moths are the bane of my existence.  I just wish I had a nickel for every person who has asked if I can fix moth holes.  The short answer is no, but there ARE things that you can do to prevent an infestation, and to get rid of the little critters if you have them.

This is a typical moth meal.  Of course they started in on the apron of the kilt, not anyplace hidden.  There is very little that I can do with this.  “Reweaving” is complicated, and I don’t know of anyone who does it.

You might ask what can be done here.  The answer depends on the rest of the kilt.  If it’s otherwise fine, AND if there is a full underapron, you can (or I can!) switch the apron and underapron to put the good tartan on the top.  This involves cutting and reattaching the two aprons, and putting the fringe in the correct place.  It’s worth it if you have the fabric in the kilt.

Option #2 would be to purchase a yard of the same tartan that the kilt is made from, and just replace the apron.  This can be an option if the kilt is not very old, as long as you know who made the tartan.

The best option is really to prevent moth damage in the first place.  There are two main types of moths that eat protein fibers like wool and silk.  These are the webbing clothes moth ( Tineola bisselliella) and the casemaking clothes moth (Tinea pellionella).  Both can be controlled with some effort on your part.  Here’s my advice on moth prevention:

1. Air your kilt out in the sunshine after wearing it.  Sun is important, because clothes moths hate sun.  They like it dark, and they will not survive well outdoors.  Sun will kill moth eggs and larvae.  Turn the kilt after a few hours to get the inside, and then you can put the kilt away in a garment bag.

2. Press regularly.  This will also kill any eggs or larvae.

3. You can also put your kit in a plastic bag(folded neatly, of course) and place it in the freezer for 24 hours.  This will kill any eggs or larvae.  After you take it out, just rehang it in the closet.

4. Wash (or have dry cleaned) sweaters and other woollen  or silk accessories before storing alongside your kilt to prevent the spread of moths.  Items containing food or drink spillage, dirt, or perspiration are more attractive to moths.

5. Clean those closets.  The real problem for many people is their closets.  Moths like it dark, so if you just leave woollens hanging in a dark, crowded closet for years at a time, the moths will go crazy if there are any in there.  I know that it’s a chore, but you should air closets regularly, put the clothes out to air, and also make sure that light and air can get into the closet at times.  Vacuum the interior of the closet thoroughly, and leave it empty for a day or two if possible.  Discard the vacuum bag after you do this. If you are really concerned, there are moth sprays containing pyrethryns that will kill all flying insects as well as larvae.  I am not a huge fan of this method of attack, but sometimes you have no choice.  Follow the label directions very carefully, and you will be OK.

Garment bags are good, as long as they seal tightly.  You can put a few moth balls in the bottom–it couldn’t hurt!

Cedar chests and cedar blocks do not prevent or kill moths.  They smell great, but have no actual chemical effect.  However, if you put clean, well-aired things in there, and it has a good seal, that is better than a dark closet.

Plastic containers that have a good tight seal work well, particularly with the addition of moth balls.  The smell of the moth balls goes away with exposure to sun, so if you air your kilt out in the sun a couple of days BEFORE the games, people won’t wrinkle their noses as you walk by them in your kilt.

This might seem like a great deal of work, but consider that you are protecting your investment in the kilt and all of your other woollens.  I have sweaters and other woollen items that are 30-40 years old, and they are fine because of a little bit of preventive care.  So get cleaning and vacuuming!

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