Summer care for winter clothes

View of lavender against a garden wall with sunny blue sky beyond.

As the weather warms up, and we cast off our extra layers, it is tempting to forget about the wool scarves we wore in the winter.

But before we abandon them for linen, sandals and all things summer, this is a good moment to pause and take care of them. Putting them carefully away is the best way to ensure that they’ll be fit and ready for action when the seasons turn again.

Washing

Wool doesn’t need to be washed very often, but it is worth laundering your wool items before putting them away. Removing traces of sweat and skin will help to protect against clothes moths.

Naturally dyed wool should be washed by hand using a pH neutral detergent. I use Ecover Delicate Laundry Liquid, but any similar product will be fine. Avoid using soap or soap flakes as they are too alkaline and can cause permanent damage to the colour.

Rinse once or twice, then gently squeeze out the water without wringing. It’s a good idea to roll up your scarf in a clean towel and give it another firm squeeze: this is a really effective way to soak up excess water. Unroll it and dry it flat if you can, either on an airer or on a table with another clean, dry towel underneath.

Once it is dry, press gently with a cool iron (one or two dots).

Storage

Make sure that your naturally dyed Bonny Claith is kept out of direct light. Although the methods I use for dyeing are designed to make the colour as durable as possible, natural dyes are typically more sensitive to light than synthetics.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a cedar-lined clothes chest, then you’re very lucky indeed! Cedar is a good moth-deterrent, as is lavender.

For the rest of us, vacuum-packed storage bags are a good way to keep our wool items out of harm’s way through the summer. If you add a lavender bag or other natural deterrent, such as cloves or cedar, then you will not only repel moths but have a beautifully scented wardrobe when winter returns.