Category Archives: eucalan

KNIT HACK: Storing Your Knits

It’s that time of year again … the time when I remind you to wash & store your knits. I’m sorry, I know this is a tedious chore, but it’s so, so, so VERY important for preserving the longevity of your knits. You know those evil little buggies who leave those wicked little holes in your knits? They are most often feasting on bits or food, skin, and other human detritus on your sweater. Washing is essential to depriving the little buggies of their buffet, and proper storage keeps them from gaining entrance to the restaurant.

 

Soak Wash Basin

 

Step 1. Wash

Hand wash in specialty delicate wash like Soak or Eucalan. Both brands are no-rinse (an essential feature for making this chore bearable), made in Canada, and work equally well. Personally, I prefer Eucalan for anything made with animal fibres (wool, alpaca, mohair, etc), it is formulated with more lanolin which is a natural conditioner for fibre. I especially like Soak for garments made with plant fibres or synthetics (you can find it in quilting and lingerie stores as well as knitting stores). Both are excellent products, you can’t go wrong with either. If you don’t have many knits but you want your lacies to last longer, pick up a bottle of Soak, they specialize in lingerie. If you are a knitwear fiend and throw your skivvies in the machine, grab a bottle of Eucalan.

Detailed instructions are on the bottles and product websites, but this is how it’s basically done:

  • Soak garment in cool water for 10 minutes
  • Add a little bit of delicate wash and squish it through garment
  • Soak for another 10 minutes
  • Drain water and gently squeeze out water (do not wring)
  • Wrap in a towel and press out excess water
  • Lay flat to dry

Washing Tips

  • Don’t forget your non-sweater knits! Wool socks, hats, mitts, scarves, cowls, and long underwear are just as vulnerable as your sweaters and need love too.
  • Avoid the big corporate store brands like Woolite, they’re still ‘detergents’ and the results will end up making you cry.
  • If the dye is saturated and you think it might bleed, add a quarter cup of white vinegar to the water before adding your garment. The vinegar will act as a mordent and stabilize the colour.
  • If you don’t have a laundry room or suitable sink (I don’t) you can pick up a plastic wash basin at the dollar store (which are also wonderful for a nice foot soak). If you want a higher-end, very high-quality basin that will last forever try a 26 Litre Tubtrug – I have one at home for laundry and we’ve been using the same bins all over the store for over 6 years and they still look like new (the best price is from Amazon.ca and you can get free shipping).
  • Instructions usually suggest drying garments flat on a towel, but I’ve found that if you have already pressed out the excess water with a towel Blocking Mats are a much faster method.
  • If garments MUST go in the machine, use Soak or Eucalan in cold water on the delicate cycle and put them in a Honey-Can-Do Sweater Wash Bag.
  • All fibres are susceptible to moth damage (even plant fibres like cotton and synthetics), wools just happen to be their favourite meal . Wash and store ALL the sweaters you wore over the winter.

 

 

IMG_2662

Step 2. Storage

Now that your knits are clean it’s time to put them away. Thankfully extra-large (33cm x 38cm) zipper freezer bags are ubiquitous and can be found at grocery stores like Loblaws. Presently, my favourites are from Dollarama (they’re tough, the seal is easy and stays put, and they are cheap). Use one sweater per bag, it seals the bugs out, plus it ensures that if one of your knits is infested it won’t spread to the others. This system will also help isolate where any potential infestations are coming from. If you want to seal in a nice, subtle, clean smell you can add a dried bay leaf to the bag – it smells like happy-nice-clean.

Storage Tips

  • Store your non-garment knits! Woollen blankets, pillow covers, anything felted (like bags, slippers, ornaments) are all vulnerable and need to be sealed up. You can buy XXL Ziploc Bags at Walmart or at Dollarama for storing blankets.
  • Don’t neglect your STASH! Ever worked with a skein of yarn that constantly breaks (not counting tight knitters working with delicate yarns)? Yup, buggies. I’ve known people who’ve had to pitch their entire stashes because of infestation.
  • All of the bags mentioned are tough, do not tear easily, and can be used over and over (we use them for storage in the store).
  • I don’t suggest you rely on big tote storage bins to keep your sweaters safe. They don’t fully seal and my past experience has been full of tears and regret.
  • If you’re feeling extra organizey and want to exercise a little control over your chaos, you can label your sweaters. A roll of masking tape and a sharpie pen go a long way, and when the cold hits next fall you’ll know which black sweater is which, without opening all the packaging (I learned this the hard way). BTW, there’s no right or wrong way to label your sweaters, as long as you label them so you can *find* them. Mine are kind of kind of random: “V-Neck from H&M – Black”, “Cashmere Scoop Neck – Black”, “V-Neck Dress from Grad School- Black”, “Haley Special Ultra Alpaca – Blue”, “Haley Special Ultra Alpaca – Green” (I’ve got a few of these), etc. It’s hard to see colour accurately when your sweaters are all packed away together, so be sure to put the colour on the label.

 

common-clothes-moth

Step 3. Second Line of Defense

I field a lot of questions and hear a lot of stories about moth prevention, and I feel I should weigh in.

Moth Traps

I like keeping the windows in my home open as much as possible, which inevitably leads to a little bit of nature creeping in. Hopefully, I’ll have stored everything away properly, but in the past there have been a few strays. This year I’m going to try using Aeroxon Moth Traps as a second line of defence and see what happens. I’ve never used them before, but I’ve heard good things (they use pheromones to attract the males). They last 3 months, so be sure to change them regularly. Even if the buggies don’t have anything to feast on, I’ll still experience a little bit of schadenfreude (shameful-joy) seeing the little bastards in the trap. Death to the sweater eaters!

Moth Balls

Moth balls work, but they smell like camphor on crack, god knows what the chemicals are doing to you and your family, and little kids always seem to think they’re candy. The smell gives me a mirgaine, ’nuff said – VETO.

Cedar Closets

I have fond memories of rummaging in my grandmother’s cedar closet, the smell was wonderful and it’s where she kept her ‘stash’ (she’d keel over if she saw what we collect these days). These closets mostly work on the principle that they are located in the basement, are tightly sealed, and aren’t often opened. Buggies don’t love the smell of cedar oil, but the wood dries out over time and it isn’t a reliable deterrent. Plus, it can’t do anything helpful if you store something already infested in it. I’m conservative when it comes to these things, if you are going to rely on a cedar closet without washing & bagging, I’d put a moth trap in there as a back-up.

Cedar Balls

Cedar balls are pretty, but are already dried out and they don’t have much scent left. I think their best use is in a glass bowl as a decorative centrepiece.

Heavy Perfume (Smelly Soap, Dryer Sheets, etc.)

Maybe buggies dislike the smell, maybe they don’t – this one’s in the realm of ‘old wives tale’. Personally, I’ve never had any success with this technique, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to go all out and make all my stuff smell like Springtime for Hitler.  I don’t endorse heavy fragrance for a few reasons:

  1. There isn’t any science on it, I don’t know if it really keeps moths at bay.
  2. More and more people are sensitive to fragrance; I don’t want you to hurt anyone with your perfume and I also don’t want *you* to become sensitized through exposure and become allergic (or your kids – that would be an unimaginable world of pain for the whole family).
  3. Besides being a common trigger for asthma, commercial synthetic fragrances contain chemicals called Phthalates (like the stuff in BPA), which are endocrine disruptors and are associated with cancers of the lady parts, deformities in baby boys, and god knows what else. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to keep my breasts & ovaries and never have to know what chemo feels like, and I want the same for my family and yours.

Resources

Tips & Tricks: How to Wash & Store Knits

Spring seems to be starting to sprout and that means it’s time to WASH AND STORE YOUR SWEATERS! Well, at least start. You probably won’t need to put them all away until the end of April, but you can definitely start with the heavy ones now.
 
The cruel little buggies who leave those wicked holes in your lambswool and cashmere are most often feasting on bits or food, skin, and other human detritus on your sweater. Washing is essential to it depriving the little buggies of their buffet, and proper storage keeps them from getting to the restaurant. 
 
 
Wash
Hand wash in special delicate wash Soak or Eucalan. Both brands are no-rinse (an essential feature), made in Canada, and work pretty much work equally well. 
 
Personally, I prefer Eucalan for anything made with animal fibres (wool, alpaca, mohair, etc), it is formulated with more lanolin which is a natural conditioner. I like Soak for garments made with plant fibres or synthetics (you can find it in quilting and lingerie stores as well as knitting stores). 
Detailed instructions are on the bottles and product websites, but this is how it’s basically done:
  • soak garment in cool water for 10 minutes
  • add a little bit of delicate wash and squish it through garment
  • soak for another 10 minutes
  • drain water and gently squeeze out water (do not wring)
  • wrap in a towel and press out excess water
  • lay flat to dry
 
Washing Tips
  • Avoid the big corporate store brands like Woolite, they’re still ‘detergents’ and the results will end up making you cry.  
  • If the dye is saturated and you think it might bleed, add a quarter cup of white vinegar to the water before adding your garment. The vinegar will act as a mordent and stabilize the colour. 
  • If you don’t have a laundry room or suitable sink (I don’t) you can pick up a plastic wash basin at the dollar store (which are also wonderful for a nice foot soak). If you want a higher-end, very high-quality basin that will last forever try a 26 Litre Tubtrug – I have one at home for laundry and we’ve been using the same bins all over the store for over 5 years (the best price is from Amazon.ca and you can get free shipping). 
  • Instructions usually suggest drying garments flat on a towel, but I’ve found that if you have already pressed out the excess water with a towel Blocking Mats are a much faster method. 
  • If garments MUST go in the machine (socks), use Soak or Eucalan in cold water on the delicate cycle and put them in a Honey-Can-Do Sweater Wash Bag
  • All fibres are susceptible to moth damage, even plant fibres like cotton and synthetics, wools just happen to be their favourite meal . Wash and store all the sweaters you wore over the winter.
 
 
Store
Now that your knits are clean it’s time to put them away. Thankfully extra-large (33cm x 38cm) zipper freezer bags are ubiquitous and can be found at grocery stores like Loblaws. Presently, my favourites are from Dollarama (they’re tough, the seal is easy and stays put, and they are cheap). One sweater per bag seals the bugs out, plus it ensures that if one of your knits is infested it won’t spread to the others. If you want to seal in a nice, subtle, clean smell you can add a dried bay leaf to the bag – it smells like smiles.  If you’re feeling a little anxious or just enjoy zipper bags, you can hermetically seal all your pre-packaged sweater cutlets in a second, super-sized meta 4XL Zilpoc Bag  
 
Storage Tips
  • All of the bags mentioned are tough, do not tear easily, and can be used over and over (we use them for storage in the store). 
  • I don’t suggest you rely on big tote storage bins to keep your sweaters safe. They don’t fully seal and my past experience has been disappointing. 
  • If you’re feeling extra organizey you can label your sweaters. A roll of masking tape and a sharpie pen go a long way, and when the cold hits next fall you’ll know which black sweater is which, without opening all the packaging (I learned this the hard way).
  • Non-sweater knits need to be put away too! Wool socks, mitts, hats, scarves, cowls, legwarmers and blankets also need love. Even if you don’t get around to washing them you should definitely seal them up for the summer (those super-duper big Ziploc bags are especially great for blankets). 
  • Felted projects are wool too: felted bags, baskets, bangles, trivets, etc, are a favourite feast for tiny beasts. Bag ’em up!
  • Don’t forget to bag up your stash! While your skeins may not have been exposed to any human detritus, they’re still vulnerable. Ever worked with a skein of yarn that constantly breaks (not counting tight knitters working with delicate yarns)? Yup, buggy. I’ve known people who had to pitch their entire stashes because of infestation. 
Resources

 

 

9 Things You Need to Know About Storing Your Knitwear





Listen to Me Now, Believe Me Later
The biggest mistake people make is putting their sweaters away for storage without cleaning them first. Body oil, dirt, and food provide a veritable shmorgasbord for moths.





Picture via Yuppee.com


1. Round Up the Usual Suspects
Everyone remembers to store the sweaters, but unfortunately the step-children are often left behind. Don’t forget your wool socks, hats, mitts, gloves, scarves, cowls, and other sundry accessories. Don’t forget blankets and anything felted – the bugs especially love the felties.





Photo via Ehow


2. Inspection!
Take a close look to see if your knits need any repairs. Look for little white bits of fluff that look like a long grain of rice, or small deposits of granules that feel like sand. If you have either of these, I regret to inform you that you’ve got bugs. Pick off the offending bits outside, put the victim in a bag and leave it in the freezer for a week to make sure any residual eggs are good and dead. With needle and contrasting thread, gently sew up any holes (you can take this out later and fix it properly). Wash (see next section).
Do not wash sweaters with moth holes without sewing them up. The holes will stretch and get bigger and less fixable.




3. Lather Up  
Hand wash in cold water with a delicate wash that does not need to be rinsed, like Eucalan or SoakWash (read the instructions on the botttle). Eucalan is great for animal fibres, it has a little bit more lanolin than Soak and comes in a series of natural scents like lavender, grapefruit, eucalyptus, jasmine, or unscented. Soak is a bit lighter (it’s great for lingerie) and comes in an assortment of blended, exotic scents (Aquae, Celebration, Lacey), as well as unscented. I suggest you let your nose choose, both Eucalan and Soak will get your knits clean and ready for hibernation, and both are made in Canada by really nice people.  





After washing, gently squeeze out the excess water – never wring! Wrap knits in a towel and gently squish out the excess water (I like to step on it and give it a ‘massage’). Any kind of towel will do, but microfiber towels are especially useful, since they can absorb a ton of water and dry quickly.





If you don’t have a wash tub at your disposal, Soak makes excellent plastic wash basins in 2 sizes (affectionately named Carrie & Phil) that are great for year round laundrification.


If hand washing is not feasible for large blankets, you may have to b

oogey on down to the laundromat. W

ash blankets individually in a large-ish front loading washing machine on the delicate setting with Eucalan or Soak. Don’t use a top-loader, it won’t end well – you need to avoid abrasion as much as possible.




4. Dry ‘Em
Lay your knits flat on a dry towel or drying rack. Flip the sweater to make sure both sides dry, and make sure your knits are completely dry before putting them away, you do not want them to mildew (ew!).



5. Fold ‘Em
Try to fold your knits as little as possible to avoid creases when you break them out next fall. This especially goes for finer knits, like machine made cashmeres. Lay the sweater on a flat surface with the front down, fold the arms in at the shoulder seam, and bring the bottom up, folding the sweater in half with the arms tucked in.






Knits need to breathe, so skip the vacuum storage bags which can trap moisture. I prefer a plastic zipper storage bag with breathable cloth sides (you can buy them from us in store of HERE). The nylon zippered under-bed storage bags are ok, or you can also stash them in a zippered cotton pillow case. Those big Rubbermaid storage tubs are not impervious to pests, so if your winter knits are going into storage in one, make sure they go into a storage bag first.
The small zipper bags (see picture above) are great for a single sweater! Consider storing your sweaters in singles – in the fall, when you break out your knits, you only need to expose the ones you are currently wearing to the elements. Additionally, if one of your sweaters has a little moth colony, keeping them all quarantined can prevent an infestation from spreading to all your knits.

Addenda April 3, 2014
Dollarama stores in Toronto now carry Extra Large Zipper Seal Storage Bags (3cm x 39.6cm, find them with the other plastic bags and food wrap) which are perfect for a single sweater: 6 bags for $1.25!



7. Additives?
Please do not add moth balls to your storage bags. Besides smelling awful, the chemicals are terrible for you. I’ve never been impressed with cedar balls, there’s rarely enough of the cedar oil left in the wood to chase off the buggies. If you want to add a little scent to your arsenal, try a sachet of natural lavender (you can knit the sachet pouches or buy them at a dollar store). No lavender plants blooming around your house? You could also try rosemary springs, look in the vegetable section of your grocery store. You can also try some heavily scented soap, like Lush. I cut it up into little pieces, tie the pieces into little bits of old panty-hose, and spread them liberally around inside the bags.
Addenda May 4, 2013: Catherine Schaus says she uses bags of lavender tea as a sachet. Great idea Catherine!



8. Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Unless you only have a handful of knits or limitless amounts of drying space, you aren’t going to get this chore done in a day. Wash one or 2 sweaters every other day (my drying rack holds two) and stow them away as you go. In a few weeks you’ll be done and your knits will be safe. You might want to start the process in April with your thick knits (oops, too late this time round, I’ll try harder next year), and move progressively to the lighter knits as you move into May.



9. Don’t Forget Your Stash!
You yarn needs TLC too. It probably doesn’t need to be washed, but a little inspection can’t hurt, and it definitely needs to be bagged. Animal fibres hold humidity, so stowing the woolens will make your summer hydro bill a little less painful. But more important, the humidity has a deleterious effect on the fibres, they become less resilient, and feltable yarns will lose their feltifying properties.


Addenda: September 9, 2013
I am sooooooooo glad I packed away my winter knits last spring! 

1. I was rooting through a basket in my bedroom today and found a small selection of woollens that didn’t make it through the big wash ‘n store process. I laid them out on my bed to fold & put away, and what should I find on my bedspread after? A tiny little worm!  That’s right, it was a pre-moth. Hopefully no damage was done, but at least I have proof that all my washing and bagging efforts were not in vain. 

2. I went to get out my first sweater of the season, and it was easy to find, I didn’t have to take out my other sweaters, and it was in great condition. Yay! 

3. I’m hoping that by the end of the season the items still in bags will give me some indication of which garments didn’t get work, making it a little easier to purge the unused. 




New Eucalan Wrapture!



If you aren’t already acquainted with Eucalan, it is an excellent, high quality, no-rinse delicate wash, perfect for sweaters, lingerie, and everything worn between the two. Eucalan recently added a new scent to their stellar line-up, Wraptureby designer Kristin Omdahl, which is infused with the beneficial essential oil of Night Bloom Jasmine.

Jasmine oil is a natural antiseptic making it perfectly suited for your most delicate fibres. Like all Eucalan scents, Wrapture contains a touch of lanolin to naturally condition fibres and keep static to a minimum.

Wrap your delicates in the romantic and intoxicating scent of Jasmine.
  • Small 100ml size (perfect for travelling and gifts): $4.97
  • Large 500ml size: $12.97

We also carry all the other Scents from Eucalan (unscented, eucalypus, lavender & grapefruit) in both the 100ml and 500ml sizes (prices same as above), and we also offer refills ($9.97/500ml). If you like, we can also special order for you a 4L jug ($69.97, not yet available in Wrapture) and a pump for it ($7.97).