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Clothes Moth Season

clothes moth

In just the last week, as we have seen improved weather, I have noticed a faint fluttering across my rooms in the evening; instantly recognisable as a couple of clothes moths. Ever since I moved to a house with a serious carpet infestation the sight of even one fills me with dread as they can be devilishly difficult to get rid of.

We often get asked advice about moth, particularly with regard to storing blankets and linens. The truth is there has been a sharp rise in clothes moth over the last few years. This is no doubt linked to the fact that we tend to keep our houses warm all year round, regardless of the temperature outside.

Only 5-8mm long, clothes moths don’t fly towards the light but prefer somewhere dark and quiet where they can lay around 40-50 eggs in peace and then leave the larvae to munch away on your favourite textile items for up to a year. This is why, you are most likely to find them in that beloved item stored deep at the back of the wardrobe or you may have found a hole in the carpet right under the middle of the bed you never move.

Clothes moths may be common but have very sophisticated taste in fibres. They will only eat natural fibres and the softer the better. This is why cashmere always seems to be at the top of the moth menu followed by other types of wool, silk, fur and feathers and finally cotton.

They also prefer slightly grubby clothes with some residue of sweat which means that putting worn items back in a wardrobe without washing them first really is like laying down a trail of biscuit crumbs when you have mice in the house.

Late Spring/early summer is the time they emerge to mate and lay their eggs and you may well have seen the males fluttering around your house over the last few weeks looking for a female who may be crawling along the floor or skirting. If so, now is a the perfect  time to get proactive!                                          

So what to do….

Spring Clean

There are over the counter sprays but they are quite noxious and will not be effective on the larvae or eggs. It is far better to go through all the cupboards and clean thoroughly.

Throw open the windows and get some fresh cool air circulating around the house and then wash, dust and vacuum. Don’t forget to move furniture and check every nook and cranny. Be sure to empty the vacuum bag and take it out of the house otherwise, having hatched inside the machine and merrily feasted on the dust, they’ll simply fly out again.

Moths hate light and hate being disturbed. So shake rugs, bedspreads and blankets outside or even put them out in the sun, if you can. The larvae are strongly repelled by light, and will fall from items when they cannot find protection.

Dry cleaning or thoroughly washing items in hot water at temperatures above 120°F (48°C) for 20 to 30 minutes kills all stages of the insects. This is the most common and effective method for controlling moths in clothing, blankets, and other washable articles.

Moths cannot sustain extremes of hot or cold. So, anything, you can’t wash, pop in a plastic bag and leave it for a couple of weeks in the freezer.

Deterrents

Once you have had to empty and clean an entire wardrobe you will, no doubt (like me), become border line obsessive about preventing it ever happening again. Luckily there is quite a bit you can do

If the moth can’t get in, it can’t do the damage so do store precious cashmere and wool in tightly sealed boxes or bags that the moth can’t enter making sure they are clean and infestation free to start with. Never put dirty clothes away.

Be vigilant and check clothes and furnishings regularly. Moth hate being disturbed and will settle in crevices around seams, on webbing under chairs. Regularly vacuum around the bottom and edges of wardrobes and any shelves.         

If you live in an older property, have open chimneys checked and cleaned every year or two by a professional chimney sweep and check lofts and attics for bird nests. Remove and destroy any nest material found as moth will potentially feed on this as well.

Natural Deterrents

Pheremone traps, which you can buy in hardware shops, are very effective and will kill the adult male moths preventing them from mating and so reproducing. Once everywhere has been cleaned, put these near or in cupboards, darker areas and other “danger” zones. This will demonstrate if you have got on top of the problem and if not, will point to where the main source of any infestation still is.

Finally, put a natural deterrent amongst the folds of the fabric to make your wardrobe an unappealing prospect to the little critters.

Many of the old moth ball formulations are now banned or not recommended. Safer alternatives exist, like lavender or cedar but, as many people find, they are not always effective and whilst camphor may work it tends to keep everyone else away too!.

Here at Dormitory we do have a favourite natural product which we have always found excellent and very effective. The Moth a Way sachet by Zarvis London is a natural product which really does the job and manages to smell good at the same time.

Zarvis Moth Away

Filled with a mixture of lavender and bitter herbs these sachets seem to last forever (I’ve had mine for several years now) and at £19.95 seem a small price compared to replacing a cashmere jumper.

So, there is no excuse especially since for the next weeks we are offering a special discount: BUY ONE AND SECOND IS 50% OFF with code MOTH2



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Scent and Sleep

Perhaps the most primal and yet underrated of senses, smell holds surprising sway over the way we think and feel. It can evoke childhood memories and covey a whole range of emotions and feelings. The right smell puts us at ease, invigorates us, relaxes us and generally can make a space far more pleasant to inhabit.

In Europe, from Medieval times, most great houses would have a still room where herbs and flowers were distilled for tinctures. Crusaders had brought back rose water which became all the rage and filled houses with scent to ward off plague. Fragrant plants would be put next to or under windows and doors to dispel the odour of a life before closed sewage.

When it comes to sleep humans have long used fragrance for its somniferous effects. The ancient Egyptians would burn frankincense, myrrh, cypress and cinnamon to induce sleep and enhance dreams. The Romans used the scent chamomile to relax. Even the “father of medicine,” Hippocrates, was a believer in the therapeutic power of scent.

Studies have been done on the correlation between smell and sleep and they indicate that smell can promote deeper sleep and reduce fatigue. Certain scents are shown to have a deep psychological effect that promotes  a positive mood and relaxation, which often leads to rest. one study even found that smells (both good and bad) will influence our dreams.

Some like lavender, also have physiological effects and will decrease heart rate and blood pressure, potentially putting you in a more relaxed state. In one study, researchers monitored the brain waves of subjects at night and found that those who sniffed lavender before bed had more deep sleep and felt more vigorous in the morning. Another study of infants found that they cried less and slept more deeply after a bath with lavender scented oils. Of course, lavender is not a cure for insomnia, but it could be a calming part of your bedtime routine. We sell the Zarvis linen liner made of the best English lavender which can be left in the linen cupboard or between the sheets on the bed to give a gentle perfume. It is perfect in a spare room to prepare the bed for guests.

Lavender linen liner

It doesn’t just have to be lavender: vanilla, jasmine, sandalwood, bergamot, lemon, geranium, ylang ylang and chamomile are all know for their tension alleviating and mood lifting properties. To put it simply, any fragrance that you enjoy will enhance your bedroom or indeed any room in the house.

Most importantly, whether it is a room spray or a scented candle or a wax melt, buy good quality, natural scents with a pleasing smell, that you like and that make you feel good.

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Truth and Lies from the bed

Pimlico – fine Egyptian percale

We are used to hearing about “Estate Agent Speak” where bijoux means small and  handy transport links means next to a train station. But recently, we’ve noticed a trend on some websites to use the same kind of marketing speak when talking about bed linen. Of course, we are all going to believe that we have the best, softest, most marvellous product on the market but is it? How do you, the consumer, wade through the superlatives to work out what is the real deal.

High Thread Count

Most people have heard of thread count which is the number of threads in both directions within a square inch of the fabric. The theory is that the higher the thread count the denser the weave and better the quality. However, this is only part of the picture as the maximum thread count for single yarns is around 500. Anything over that is generally made by using twisted yarns which immediately doubles or even triples the final count. This can often (not always) conceal a weaker, poorer quality thread and so, some people’s 600tc can be little better or even worse than a 200tc using better quality yarn.

The truth is that the quality of fibre and finishing process are just as important as the numbers so check provenance to be sure.

Single Ply

There is a real fashion for declaring items single ply these days. Probably in response to the debates surrounding thread counts as I’ve mentioned. It just means that yarns have not been twisted to inflate the thread count. Again, it is only part of the picture and as said before only possible up to a maximum of 500tc.

To still offer a high thread count, some weavers have resorted to adding what are called “picks” into the weave. These are additional, very fine threads that are added into the weft (threads going across the weave). Effectively, it is doing what others are achieving by twisting the yarn. Ironically though, by not twisting the threads the fabric may be weaker than if a twist had been added. For many it’s all just a numbers game…

Egyptian Cotton

Egyptian cotton is a genus of cotton rather than cotton that just happens to come out of Egypt. Much of what is “made in Egypt” is in fact lower quality imported cotton from India as most of the best cotton from the country goes straight out for export to Europe. What is important is to look for is extra long staple Egyptian cotton as opposed to cotton sheets made in Egypt

Europe still has the best processing and finishing in textiles and because of costs tends to only handle the higher quality fibres as they can not compete with what is produced in the Far East. Both Portugal and Italy weave and produce very good quality fabrics although for our money the Italians still have it when it comes to excellence of finish and handle.

Sateen vs Percale

Sateen and percale use the same yarn but have a different weave. Some websites do not even specify which it is but they have quite a different look and feel with percale being crisp and cool to the touch and sateen smooth and lustrous. Percale is a more robust fabric so, that’s the one we tend to recommend for hotels but beyond that it is a simple matter of taste and we would always specify which a design in made of. Personally, we like sateen in winter and percale in summer but everyone has their own preference.

Cutting out the middleman

We see a lot of little diagrams showing how bed linen is cheaper because there are no distribution costs, tv advertising, retailer etc. Seems a little odd when most web sites are indeed retailers albeit on line with their own set of costs for website, photography, PR, adverts.

Truth is there is a current fashion for very plain bedlinen. No cuffs, no detailing. -plain bags if you will. Nothing wrong with that but it is much cheaper to sew so it should be a cheaper price than something with embroidery or edging detail

Last a lifetime

Sounds amazing but we can’t imagine a bed linen to last a lifetime unless you have 50 sets used in rotation or it is treated with some king of Teflon coating!

Modern washing powders are quite aggressive, and cotton does not improve with time. It will soften with use but will deteriorate eventually. Good quality bed linen should last many years and the more sets you have the less action one pillowcase will see but it is not indestructible.

We are very proud that our customers do not come back too often to replace their bed linen, but it will need replacing at some point in a lifetime.

Easy to care for

You can buy “easy care cotton” but it has a chemical coating to stop it crumpling. If you don’t like the sound of this then cotton needs ironing if you want it to look smooth. Fact!

If you don’t like ironing, then you will have to live with a crumpled look. A very good, smooth cotton will iron more easily than a course one but it will still need ironing and it’s only easier if it is ironed when still slightly damp and  line dried.

It’s all too complicated!

We’re sure some people do find buying bed linen complicated and are not sure what to go for. We here, are a bit old fashioned and would say just ask us.

We have worked in this industry for far more years than we care to mention and know our stuff when it comes to design and manufacture. Passionate about our products, we love talking about bed linen (sad, we know) and will give whatever advise we can.   We will always endeavour to give plain speak.

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Get yourself Guest ready

 

One of the nice things about this time of year is welcoming visitors during the Christmas season. Whilst we spend a lot of time getting the decorations up and making the living areas festive the poor old guest accommodation can get a bit forgotten. So here are our tips to make their stay a joy.

Jasmine bed

 

It may sound obvious but, clean the room thoroughly. It’s amazing how dusty, even an unused room, can get. Open a window and get some fresh air circulating. Peel back the bed covers and make sure the bed sees some of that fresh air as well. If you have animals pay particular attention to getting rid of any stray hairs and doggy/catty smells which you may not even notice but could be the first thing to register with a guest.

There is nothing like scent to improve a room’s ambience so bring in some fresh flowers and or a scented candle. Hyacinths are my favourite at this time of year and have the most gorgeous fresh smell. For a quick fix, you could also use a room spray based on natural oils to avoid that overwhelming synthetic smell.

We also sell the marvelous Zarvis linen liners filled with English lavender to place in linen cupboards between sheets However, these can equally be placed in the bed, once made, to fragrance the sheets ready for guests. It should help them get a good night’s sleep too.

Lavender sachet

 

Magazines and books are always a nice touch – particularly those of local interest that may give some tips and hints of things to do in the area. Although these days, one of the first things guests want is the Wi-Fi code so make sure it is to hand and perhaps even make up a card with it that can sit next to the bed along with a universal charger for devices.

A lot of people like to have water available to drink at night so it is nice to have a bottle of water and a tumbler available on the bedside table and depending how long your guest will stay it is worth clearing out a drawer and a section of the wardrobe to allow them somewhere to put clothes and hang dresses and/or suits.

 

Do make sure guests have a reasonable mattress not just the most basic. A good or bad night’s sleep chez vous may be the thing your guest remembers most about their stay. The same should go for the pillows and duvets. You can find out ahead of time if they like a firm or soft pillow and whether they like to be hot or cool when they sleep. You cannot always assume guests like the same temperature as you do so be ready to make it warmer or cooler for them, Have extra blankets or throws on hand which can also be decorative and make the room look nicer.  Offer the level of comfort you would hope to receive. Good cotton sheets are the best option. Comfortable and easy to clean.

 

 

Even if you do not have a designated guest bathroom, you need to prepare whatever bathroom your guests will use The first step is to gather up all of your personal items. Leaving your hairbrush out and a big glob of toothpaste in the sink is not exactly welcoming to a guest. Take all clothing and used towels out of the room too! Extra toilet paper is a must. Nothing is more awkward for a guest than running out of toilet paper and having to rummage through your cupboards looking for a new roll so put a few out in plain view or at least make sure to tell guests where they can be found.

Don’t just put one towel out for a guest but give them a good stack of towels – enough for a bath, drying hair and washing hands. It is also nice to set out a small pack of extra toiletries such as toothpaste, new toothbrushes, shampoo and soap, so guests feel at home even if they forgot something important. Even a bathrobe for guests can be a lovely touch.

Towels

 

 

 

 

 

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Ask us anything about bedlinen

Your bed is where you start and finish the day and it should be your sanctuary. Buying it shouldn’t be stressful or confusing.

So we thought it was time to let you know what is good, what is bad and what is just marketers speak ! With over fifty years combined experience in the home textiles market, we have traveled to most cotton and linen producing regions, spent weeks in weaving and spinning mills and supervised our designs being transformed from drawing to finish product in our work rooms.

 

So, what do you want to know? Send us your question in the comment box  at the bottom of the page and we will try to answer with a simple and succinct reply.