Is there anything other than mothballs or moth crystals you can use to prevent moths in a closet? If aromatic cedar deters moths, should you line the whole closet with cedar? -- B.F.P. The best protection against moths is to be sure to rotate your clothing so that all garments are worn and cleaned or aired. Keep your closets and drawers clean and free of clutter.
A long sunning followed by a brisk brushing, shaking or beating is one of the most effective measures against fabric pests. In addition to their well-known taste for wool, moths also will attack paper, straw, cotton or rayon. They also are attracted to clothes that are stained by such items as fruit juice, beer, milk, gravy, grease or perspiration.
Prepare clothes for out-of-season storage by having them laundered or dry cleaned. A few days in the freezer also will kill all stages of insect life, as will pressing with a steam iron. Once your clothes are clean, store them in heavy plastic bags or clean cardboard boxes, tightly sealed.
Cedar helps, particularly if it is a cedar chest or closet that is relatively airtight. Three-quarter-inch heartwood of red cedar is best. You can line your closet completely and renew its effectiveness every few years by brushing 100 percent cedar oil over the interior. Periodic sanding also will renew the cedar aroma.
You can gain some of the benefits of cedar by hanging cedar shavings (pet stores carry them) in a pillowcase in the closet with the cleaned garments. An old-fashioned herbal repellent calls for a combination of two handfuls each of dried lavender and rosemary with 1 tablespoon of crushed cloves and a small piece of dried lemon peel; place the mixture in gauze bags to be kept in dresser drawers or hung in the closet.
I enjoyed the item in your column on how to treat efflorescence on brick. I am planning a number of small brick jobs around the yard. How would you recommend I treat the brick to prevent efflorescence before the bricks are placed in use? -- N.A.B. Since moisture seeping up from the brick (usually from the ground level) is the primary cause of efflorescence, your first step is to assure that any building site has proper drainage away from the brick.
If you are laying a brick patio in sand, provide added protection by using a plastic membrane under the brick. After you have completed your building project, use a quality masonry sealer such as Thompsons Water Seal for further protection.
I have several nice paintings framed in wood, with one framed in an ornate gold leaf. They have glass over the paintings, so I am not concerned about cleaning the glass. However, I am unsure on how to keep the wood frames, and especially the gold leaf frame, clean. Do you have any suggestions? -- C.S. The gilt on frames around pictures can be pure gold leaf, a tarnishable gold metal, gold paste wax or gold paint. And any raised decorative pattern can be made of plaster.
Don't take chances damp-cleaning an old frame if you think it might be real gold leaf on plaster. A damp cleaning adds enough moisture to loosen gold leaf and soak into fine cracks to dissolve the plaster.
If you are in doubt about gold on an old frame, a frame shop should recognize the type. For the real thing, use only a soft dry cloth. Wood is best cleaned with a soft dry cloth, also. Some lemon oil added to the cloth will help remove soil.
Send inquiries to Here's How, P.O. Box 190, San Diego, Calif. 92112-0190. Only questions of general interest can be answered in the column.