use of suit bag for moth protection

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by SuitingStyle, Dec 24, 2007.

  1. Amie

    Amie Member

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    16520Man - Hi, I am working to eliminate and prevent any further damage from moths on my expensive/delicate items. I plan to do a sweep-through of drying all my garments and then placing them in the plastic/canvas bags recommended. I am interested in getting a Kent Brush, and the main website I have found for them is:
    http://kentbrushes.com/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=49&cat=Clothes+brushes

    I was thinking of getting something along the lines of this one:
    http://kentbrushes.com/shopexd.asp?id=55&catid=49

    Will the brushing kill any moth eggs if they are present? I am not sure if there are any on my clothes, esp. the ones I must hand-wash in cold water, but if so I heard that brushing will kill the moth larva. So my concern is: Can you pretty much brush all types of clothing with these brushes, or just suits/jackets/blazers and the likes? Thanks for your advice and knowledge!
     


  2. Amie

    Amie Member

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  3. stubloom

    stubloom Senior member

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    Apart from the question of canvassed vs fused and what to wear to a wedding, the issue of protecting one's fine wools from "moths" has to be the most frequently asked and answered on SF.

    The answer is, and always has been, to CLEAN YOUR GARMENTS BEFORE STORING FOR THE SEASON.

    The female adult moth is only attracted to your garments as a place to lay her eggs IF there are nutrients in the fabric for the larvae to feed on when they hatch. These nutrients include perspiration, body oils, sugars and food particles. Without these nutrients the larvae will die upon hatching. Eliminate those nutrients and the female moth searches for a source of food elsewhere. Eliminate the nutrients and you eliminate the necessity for all the "anti-moth protection products" such as moth balls, herbal sachets, cedar, etc. And, by the way, brushing alone cannot remove perspiration or body oils.

    That having been said, I do believe in the need to store your garments after cleaning in storage bags that are either made out of BREATHABLE cotton, linen, light canvas or man-made fibers. If these bags have a plastic window, then that window must be made of chemically inert plastic that will not break down and off-gas acids over time.

    For more information....

    Link: http://thelondonlounge.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=9979&p=53877&hilit=moth+damage#p53981
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012


  4. KObalto

    KObalto Senior member

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    I live in an older home which has windows in the closets. I leave the shades up a little. I have heard that moths need darkness to nest. I'm not sure if this is true, but no moth issues so far, knock on wood.
     


  5. Amie

    Amie Member

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    Hi there, yes I have been researching heavily online and that is what I have red as well - clothes moths like dark humid places. light detracts them and keeping the place dehumidified helps create a less attractive environment. i went to wal-mart and bought these little dehumidifier containers for my closets in the hanger/laundry bag section. good luck, i know on wood for you as well.
     


  6. Amie

    Amie Member

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    Hi, thanks for sharing your knowledge and findings! I want to protect my expensive garments and plan to buy protective storage after getting them all dry cleaned.

    This link you provided is a bit confusing for me and I just want to make sure I understand the plastic issue correctly.

    Garments that have been cleaned prior to seasonal storage or cleaned before storage due to infrequent usage should be stored in materials that are not acidic in nature. Why? Because acidic materials degrade over time and off-gas or release acids. And when those acids come into physical contact with your garments, your garments can turn yellow and/or deteriorate.

    So now the question becomes: which materials are acidic in nature? These...

    * Nylon or vinyl zip-up suit bags you got from your clothing retailer or tailor. These type of nylon and vinyl bags are not chemically inert, meaning that the nylon or vinyl will not degrade over time and off-gas acids.

    Cotton or canvas zip-up bags with see through vinyl or plastic fronts. Same reason. (same reason as to which comment?)

    Dry cleaner plastic bags. Again, not chemically inert. Dry cleaner poly bags serve one function only: to protect you garments from dust while at the dry cleaner or in transit to your home. Never store any textile in dry cleaner poly unless you plan to wear or use it in the near term.

    * Polypropylene boxes (aka Rubbermaid or Sterilite). Not chemically inert.

    * Zip lock bags. Not chemically inert.

    * Cedar anything ( rings, blocks, hangers, chests, closets, etc.). Mahogany and cedar are two of the most acidic woods you'll find.

    Maybe my confusion is coming from a lack of understanding of "chemically inert" -- the aforementioned list is started by saying that these are the materials that ARE acidic in nature after the beginning of the article says that we should store in things that are NOT ACIDIC. Then the first one on the list for nylon/vinyl states a "meaning" of chemically inert, by stating that non-chemically inert items will not degrade or off-gas acids. This article seems very contradictory and confusing to me (unless I just haven't had my proper amount of coffee for the day).

    I was planning on buying some of the Mainstrays canvas/plastic bags from wal-mart that were shown above in this thread, but now I am not so sure if the plastic will be acidic or non-acidic in them. I would like to resolve this discrepancy lying in my head -- if you, or anyone else, find any other articles/info please do share.

    Stubloom and all - thanks for sharing information with me. I sure do appreciate the knowledge. Never had to know these things until now...
     


  7. stubloom

    stubloom Senior member

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    Response to Amie.....

    I'll clarify as best I can:

    Most storage materials are NOT breathable (meaning that they do not allow air in while keeping dust and pests out) and are NOT chemically inert (meaning that the materials themselves are not chemically stable over time and that the molecular structure of the material is such that it breaks down over time and off-gasses acids).

    Most nylons, vinyls and plastics fall into this category. On the other hand, cotton, linen and certain man-made fibers are are perfect as storage materials.

    What I am saying in that London Lounge post is that you should be careful when storage bags that contain a mix of "good" materials and "bad" materials. For example, a suit storage bag with a zipper made of cotton ("good") and a window made of regular plastic ("bad"). On the other hand, if that same cotton bag had a plastic window that was chemically inert (meaning that the plastic was chemically stable over time and will not beak down), you'd have a perfect solution -- a cotton bag with a chemically inert plastic window.

    Hope that clarifies.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012


  8. Amie

    Amie Member

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    stubloom -- you are brilliant! Thank you so much for helping me understand this concept. This does help clarify!

    Now my question is: a cotton or any other type of "good" fabric storage bag mixed with a chemically stable (inert) plastic -- is this only to be found in a "perfect world" (not really existent) or if I search will i find? I live in a part of the world where it is highly humid and therefore must ensure I find a breathable material for my valuables, but i also would like to have a plastic window to see as I sort through for my daily wearings if possible.

    Now a couple more questions I have: "cotton, linen and certain man-made fibers are are perfect as storage materials" --

    1. Does canvas fall into the category of perfect storage materials as well?
    2. These perfect storage materials you listed -- do they guarantee protection from pests such as moths?

    Recently two events have occurred surrounding me:
    1. A relative gave me some clothes that they grew out of.
    2. A co-worker I work directly with on a daily basis brought moths to work with her from her home and the epidemic is now starting to spread in the facility.

    Over the course of the last couple weeks, I saw 2 moths in my home, sending me into a frantic frenzy. I ditched the clothes that were given me, and have been cleaning/washing constantly like a madwoman on my time from work. Exhausted and trying to take the appropriate measures to protect myself and home the best I can while also keeping my clothes in excellent condition.

    As you can tell I've been an extremely busy woman; I am so very appreciative of your expertise/time on this topic. Thank you very, very much for your help. :)

     


  9. stubloom

    stubloom Senior member

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    Response to Amie's last question.....

    Canvas is acceptable as a storage medium. But, in my opinion, it ought to be a light canvas. And light canvas only.

    Heres' my issue with all the canvas storage bags that you find online and in stores such as Target, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, and the like. The buyers for these stores (and almost all of their customers) know absolutely NOTHING about the storage of fine garments. All these store buyers (and their customers) know is that they need a "bag that will protect wools from moths" and that is "competitively priced". So the focus of these store buyers (and their customers) is on the ESTHETICS of the bag, not on the FUNCTIONALITY of the bag as an appropriate storage medium. As a result of the sole focus on esthetics, they tend to favor a thicker/heavier canvas for their bags which, by definition, tend to have limited breathability. Furthermore, to improve the "sturdiness" of the canvas they use, they will often starch the canvas with a corn starch (a cheap natural starch). Here's the problem with starching: Corn starch is FOOD for the larvae when they hatch. That's like hanging a bright light in the middle of the desert at midnight and not having the common sense to realize that insects will swarm the light!!

    Bottom line: if you go canvas, make sure that the canvas is light, breathable and not starched. What's important is the functionality of the storage bag. Who gives a sh*t if the canvas looks wrinkled.

    As regards a guarantee that you won't have a moth problem... there are no guarantees. What I will say is this: if you clean before you store (to eliminate the nutrients that the larvae feed on), if you use a functional storage bag, and if you vacuum the inside of your closets on a regular basis, you will significantly reduce the likelihood that female moths will choose YOUR closet as the perfect place to lay their eggs. Banks get robbed because that's where the money is. Female moths lay their eggs in your fine wools because that's where the nutrients are.

    As regards clothes that you have thrifted or that have given to you, my suggestion is that you ALWAYS have them cleaned BEFORE you take them home. First, from a purely hygienic point of view and, second, from a moth protection point of view.

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012


  10. taxgenius

    taxgenius Senior member

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    Which canvas bags do you consider sufficiently light?
     


  11. rjsphd

    rjsphd Senior member

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    Doah. I just bought a dozen rubbermaid canvas garment bags. How can I tell if they are starched--they are stiff alright?
     


  12. HomerJ

    HomerJ Senior member

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    Interesting point about the starch!

    I bought some closet organizers from Walmart made of a crisp stiff canvas. After reading your post I put it in the washer as an experiment.
    Wash water turned brown and the canvas came out of the dryer (lowest heat) much softer and lighter. Wrinkles came out easily with a steam iron.

    Now I have some peace of mind that I'm not storing my clothes in insect food.

    I also like these organizers better than the individual suit bags.

    • They hold about 6 garments but only cost $10 (vs $5 per suit bag)
    • Clothes are more easily viewed and accessed
    • Rather than a full plastic side there's a small window so less VOC
    • They are long enough for overcoats
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2012


  13. stubloom

    stubloom Senior member

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    Apart from the fact that the wash dissolved the starch, it's interesting that the wash water turned brown. That means that the dye used on that canvas was water soluble and that most of the excess dye was washed out.

    Here's why I find that interesting...

    Imagine, for a moment, the following worst case scenario: You hang all your suits in these bags (without prior washing to remove the starch and the excess dye). A major rain storm comes along and, for some unknown reason, the roof immediately above your walk-in closet develops a major leak and that leak saturates your suit bags. The likelihood that your garments would be stained are high.

    Think this can't happen? About a year ago, during a monsoon storm in Phoenix, a tree fell onto the roof of a client's house and a large limb punctured the roof immediately above his walk-in closet. All his suits and sport coats (all bespoke or MTM) had been stored in canvas bags and all the bags got soaked. Every garment in those bags was stained. It took us quite a while to remove the dye transfer from every garment.

    Washing those bags bought at stores such as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond or Walmart prior to use is an excellent idea.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2012


  14. NewYorkBuck

    NewYorkBuck Senior member

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    I just washed a sweater and low and behold, moth holes.....

    My MO now is all sweaters get washed and put into a cedar chest.

    ALL of my wool suits get dry cleaned and put into bags. I try to get the breathable ones, but if I run out, they go into plastic ones. I dont really buy the "wool needs to breathe" thing anyway. I have never ever heard of someone losing a suit because it didnt "breathe." Moths on the other hand......
     


  15. bourbonbasted

    bourbonbasted Cyber Eliitist

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    I store my sweaters in plastic containers with cedar. However, I also put all my cashmere and lambswool sweaters on the bottom and then stack on top of them fleeces or synthetic outwear. I find (so far) this has kept my garments moth-free.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2012


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