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So it's time to bring out the winter coats. If you open the box only to find your coats smashed, misshapen and smelling musty, then you did not store them properly. You may even be surprised to find moths, roaches, or other pests inside of the sealed box. This can happen if coats are not cleaned properly before storage. You could be wearing a coat with microscopic eggs laying in wait to hatch when they're stored. This can cause a lot of damage when the larvae are born and feed on the fabrics.

Many people think that moths are the only problem and that they only eat wool. This isn't true. Moths like to lay eggs on garments that are contaminated with our body oils. Coats are not generally cleaned after each use, so there are body oils on your coats at the end of the winter. The eggs hatch in the oils and feed on them, destroying multiple types of fabric.

Cleaning your coats according to the manufacturer's specifications is important at the end of each winter season. Before you store, make sure that you properly clean. Don't ever attempt to clean a coat that specifies "dry clean only" by yourself. Take these items to a professional dry cleaner. If you do wet a fabric that is not designed to get wet, you can shrink or damage it, the ink can run out of the fabric, or structure pieces that are glued into place could come loose.

Leather is generally cleaned with special leather products and leather conditioners. Wool is rarely cleaned, but should be brushed with a special wool brush fairly often. Moth eggs are very delicate and can simply be brushed away before storing a winter wool coat that doesn't necessarily need to be cleaned.

Don't store coats in a box. The compression can fold and bend pieces of fabric that could permanently crease and damage the coat. Coat should always be hung for storage. Many people use an armoire or a rolling garment rack with a zip cover for winter coat storage. Use sturdy hangers, like wood hangers, that are specifically designed for heavy coats. You will need commercial grade hardware and quality crafted wood or molded plastic to hang coats, whether they're in storage or in your closet.

Avoid musty odors in you closet or in storage by using cedar products. Red, aromatic cedar absorbs moisture from the air and keeps your closet or storage area free of humidity. Humidity seeps into fabrics where it can't easily escape, causing mold and mildew to grow on the fibers of the material. This mold and mildew may not even be visible to the naked eye, but you'll know that it is there if you smell a musty odor.

Cedar not only absorbs the moisture and eliminates the possibility of mold and mildew, but it also has a natural deodorizing effect. It doesn't cover up odors, but neutralizes them so that your coats always smell fresh and clean when you need them. Cedar also repels pests, such as roaches and moths, so that you never have to worry about infestation of your closet or storage.

Cedar hangers are a great way to incorporate cedar into your storage and closet areas. For tailored coats, use curved or contoured style hangers to create circulation in the hanging garments and to hold the shape of the shoulders while hanging. Contoured hangers mimic the shape of human shoulders thus providing better support for the shirt or coat.

About the Author: Jo Granville is on the staff of Only Hangers. For more information, please visit