Whether you have wool sweaters, balls of wool, roving or fleece its important to store and protect it properly. The two biggest enemies of wool in the UK are moths and dust mites. While moths damage the wool a dust mite infestation will lead you sniffing and sneezing and worse. So here are my top tips for protecting and storing your wool
Tineola bisselliella the wool moth or carpet moth larvae will feed on anything from wool, silk, and sometimes cotton. The adults lay the eggs the larvae hatch and they will nibble holes in your yarn, and clothes or feed on your fleece and roving.
Lavender is a great moth deterrent use lavender bags in drawers, wash clothes to remove the tiny eggs and try not leave your wool in storage. My own recipe no rinse wool wash available in my etsy shop RockfordRose Aunty Emmas no rinse wool wash also contains lavender and eucalyptus which helps deter moths (and smells rather lovely!)
Cedar blocks can help or for your yarn, fleece and roving you could keep it in a cedar chest, or you could just endeavour to knit it all before you get a problem. I also use my wool wash when preparing my roving and find this a big help.
Dust mites feed on skin cells partially broken down by mold.... yes its a lovely thought! It is the dust mite poop that causes allergic reactions runny noses, itchy eyes, sneezing. Dust mites need humidity and warm temperatures to survive ( carpets on concrete flooring are the perfect place).
For clothing regular washing and drying on the line will help reduce the amount of skin on the clothing for them to feed on. UV from the sun also kills dust mites helping control their population (although it does not remove the dust mite poop). Make sure the clothes are bone dry before putting them away, warm humid airing cupboards are perfect for dust mites.
To avoid turning your fleece and roving into a dust mite farm, there are a few simple rules you can follow, buy fresh fleece, wash it and prepare it immediately (I recommend soaking in ecover as a great fleece wash for raw fleece) , this helps reduce the amount of dust mould etc for the mites to feed on. Always dry your fresh washed wool fleece in the sun. Buy your fleece as fresh as possible many farms in the UK start shearing in May so this is the perfect time to buy fleece. Another option if you cant prepare your wool immediately is to freeze it, although unless you want to run a chest freezer just to keep your sheep fleece fresh this is not an option for most!).
Never store fleece or roving in plastic as this will increase the humidity and be perfect for dust mites, store it in pillow cases or small amounts in paper bags and cardboard boxes. When preparing your fleece make sure it has dried thoroughly in the sun (the sun also does a wonderful job of killing some bacteria and mould spores) before putting it into storage. My last piece of advice is to get on and use the fleece and roving once you have prepared it, don't keep it hanging around, it will only gather dust!