Keeping house: Spring cleaning

By mid-April, the past season's clothes and accessories look limp as day-old baked goods. Though it's tempting to just squish the winter stuff to the back of the closet, the first sunny day often reveals that our mothers' spring cleaning was a good idea.

Some spring products for keeping you and your favourite things beautiful:

Vanquish cashmere-munchers


A spot of food or body residue on a sweater is a siren call for moths. I'm washing mine in baby shampoo, then storing in snap-lid boxes. The latest in spotting and controlling clothes moths is the Pro-Pest Clothes Moth Trap, described here:
"When Moths Make a Home in Yours" by Arienne Cohen, in the New York Times.

They kill webbing cloth moths (the most common diners at your cashmere buffet) and last three months. Non-toxic, too. Available from Amazon and Pestrong.


Fresh scarves

Fine silk scarves (Hermès , Ferragamo, Chanel, etc.) need cleaning after a winter's wear, but many of us pause, unwilling to hand our finery to a cleaner who will mash the hand-rolled hems.

Ever wonder if you should risk hand washing? Online scarf vendor The Perfect Red Box tells how. This method works for silk lingerie, too: Hand Washing Hermes Silk


Shiny happy shoes

I like to put my winter shoes and boots away well-polished, on trees– so much more welcoming to slip on next fall. And I feel better in shined shoes. Here's how to get glossy leather.
The Perfect Shoeshine


Do your blouse in-house

Now that blouses are more visible, not hidden under jackets, here's a terrific product, Stiffen Up by The Laundress. Gentler than starch, it smells divine and imparts a perfect crispness to cottons. I never trust my blouses to laundries, and this product puts them to shame. Price, $16 for 8oz.


The peel deal

I've mentioned Orange A-Peel organic Cleaning Concentrate before, and will again, for my love is boundless. A few drops in the wash and your gym clothes, sheets or towels are cleaner, with a slight trace of natural orange fragrance that's neither fake nor cloying. They now make a pet cleaning product as well.


And sweet spring dreams...


Here in Canada, off with the flannel, on with the percale. Who knew giving your bedding a shot of vodka was good for it? Hmm, perhaps a little nip for the housefrau as well?
How to Keep Your Mattress and Bed Fresh and Inviting

15 comments

Châtelaine - The Garden Fairy said...

Oh, your post comes in so handy, as Spring has sprung here, and I start window-washing and all the usual chores of Spring. My tip for storing valuable animal fibers moth-free is: Freshly washed, dried and put into clear sealable plastic bags I put all the stuff for 2-3 days into my big freezing chest (Engl term not known)- after this no moth can live on. Same I do with my unspun precious fibers once a year. Since 20+ years moth free :-)) kind regards, Martina

Deja Pseu said...

These are great tips, thanks Duchesse! I'm off to check out those moth-busters.

LPC said...

A very useful post. Wish I were the kind of person who cheerfully optimized her life, rather than standing, swaying, aghast at all the things I might be doing better...

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

These are great tips...I will look into these in more detail and try the scarf washing. I too put my clean laundered cashmere into lidded bins for moth proofing.

materfamilias said...

I'm waiting for a few consecutive days of sunshine so that woolens can be blocked outside. Exposure to sunlight is a simple way to get rid of moths -- they dislike it intensely, preferring dark places (closets, drawers) -- I regularly take my wool stash outside into the sunshine, shifting it around to make sure all skeins are exposed. Seems to work . . .
Some great products here -- thanks for the tips.

Northmoon said...

Love the tips Duchesse.

Here in TO I've had problems with carpet beetles as well as moths. Apparently they can live on the horse hair used in plaster walls in old houses like mine. Nothing beats cleanliness to combat these pests. I also store a lot of my wool and cashmere items in ziplock bags year round now.

I've always hand washed my silks using shampoo or mild soap, but the tip about dish detergent to get rid of oils from makeup etc. makes sense.

metscan said...

ckstiYour timing is perfect. Nearly all the snow has melted up here too and I´m itching all over to get rid of the winter wear. Now this is the time to go over what to keep, and what to throw away. Your post gives me an extra kick. I only trust one cleaner´s for clothes and textiles which can´t be washed by hand or washing machine. I carry my furs to the furrier for the summer and cleaning and mending ( if necessary). I too take good care of my shoes. Clean, polished shoes give a finished touch to your outfit. Is it true that if you wrap your cashmeres ( having washed them by hand) inside black silk paper, they are safe from moths,etc? Oh, I could go on and on about things to do with your wardrobe at spring time, but-some other time.

Belle de Ville said...

What a great post, thank you.
I'm all about my home organization and clean up project this month!

Duchesse said...

metscan: I've never heard of the black paper method and am dubious. The key, according to all the research I have done, is to remove dirt (moths love organic deposits) and then store air tight, in ziplocks or snap-boxes.

materfamilias: Airing is good! But if any soil, moths will return once out of the light.

Chatelaine: A wash, then 72 hrs in chest freezer kills any incubating larvae. The freezer technique is one conservators use so that one customer's wool does not contaminate others'. Congratulations and may you have many more moth free years!

northmoon: Gah! Carpet beetles! Bet that crevice tool on your vac gets good use.

Mardel said...

Yes, the spring cleaning bug has bitten here as well and the sweaters have been progressing through the hand wash with blocking an drying outside in the sun. It is good to feather pillows and down comforters as well.

I just happen to say that Stiffen Up by the Laundress is one of my favorite products.

Duchesse said...

mardel: Yes, cleaning and adding more down is another spring chore. (We sleep under down all year.) Your yard abloom with cashmere is an amusing image.

Alienne said...

So far I have been concentrating on the garden but I shall have to move indoors soon and put away the winter woollies so it is timely advice. I shall certainly try some of those tips for keeping your bedding fresh - but Duchesse, could you please translate for me. What does 2 T. of vodka mean? 2 tablespoons, teaspoons? It is not an expression I am familiar with.

Duchesse said...

Alienne: Hi! in the recipe-measurement world an uppercase T is tablespoon and lowercase t is teaspoon.

Frugal Scholar said...

Thanks for the inspiration. I have successfully washed cashmere and other wool on gentle in my machine w/ a tiny bit of soap. The good thing about the machine is that it gets more water out than a handwash.

I just washed two heavy Norwegian sweaters today. The humidity must be low, b/c they dried in a few hours!

Thanks esp for the shoe-shining info. I need to polish my Chanel loafers. They are getting scraggly. The leather is soooo soft I am afraid I will ruin them.

s. said...

Terrific tips from you and your feisty readers. Thank you.