What’s stuff worth?

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That’s a good question. And one that almost everyone making a downsizing transition asks. Like most things in life, there isn’t a black and white answer. But, really, what is your stuff worth, and how do you find out?

Lots of things have worth or value. That value is almost entirely unrelated to the purchase price. Value is something determined in real time. The value of stuff can change dramatically from year to year, decade to decade. The thing itself hasn’t changed, but it’s value has. How inconvenient! But ahhhh, how true.

There are three kinds of value: financial, sentimental or psychological. And while you have limited control over financial value, you have lots of power to determine the sentimental or psychological value of things. Let’s look at why:

Financial Value

The financial value of an item is what someone is willing to pay for it. Here’s the formula:

Formula for determining financial value of items

It’s a little like alchemy. Things that there are fewer of, that are in good condition and that are in demand are worth more financially than things there are abundant quantities of that aren’t as desired.

Things that are scarce are things that might have been sent to the thrift store or the landfill (oh the horror!) years ago because they weren’t viewed as “valuable.” (Translation: they didn’t cost very much.) Some examples: supermarket china in good condition is often more valuable than fine china, vintage cookbooks and children’s books that are out of print are often more prized than new books, old blue jeans are usually more valuable on a resale market than new ones. Since there are fewer of those items around and there is demand for them, the price is higher if you are selling them.

Things that were costly when you bought them, like dining room tables, hutches and upholstered furniture, are often donations because the market is currently saturated with them. The well-worn basement workbench with a good vintage patina is probably worth more at resale than the dining room table. (Of course, the workbench wouldn’t go back to the cellar, it would more likely become a piece of furniture in a rustic cottage home.) Furniture tastes have changed. 1980s style furniture, for example, is not in high demand. Exceptions are signed design pieces and trend design pieces. It’s hard to stay up on what’s popular—many clients are surprised to find out that Lucite and acrylic pieces from the 1970s and 1960s Italian gesso Florentine pieces are both is having a renaissance and are in demand.

Sentimental Value

There are no pricing guides for sentimental value, you can’t slap a ruler on it to measure its size and you can’t calculate the ROI for keeping it or letting it go. All you can know is it means a great deal to you. How much does it mean, here’s our formula:

Formula for determining sentimental value of items2

To break it down, the sentimental value lies in the memories an object holds, the history of where it came from and how happy it makes you when you see it. If when you sit at your writing desk, you can see your mom sitting there and she could see her mom sitting there, that piece is dripping in lovely sentimental value. The same is often true for kitchenware and china, clocks, photos and scrapbooks, and art.

Things that mark milestones like diplomas and anniversary plates might have virtually no sentimental value. The event was important, the ephemera associated with it is not. But a kindergarten report card? Hard to replace, highly sentimental.

The next generation may not have high sentimental value for things that you adore. But just like you did when you were younger, they have formed their own sentimental attachments to things that were part of their life.

Psychological Value

Things with high psychological value are not wrapped in memories, nor are they unusually valuable. They are things that make your life better. They may not be as bright and shiny as when you first got them, but they have form and function to get you through the day. Here’s how to analyze that:

Formula for determining psychl value of items-2

 

These are things that are useful, in that they are used regularly. They are familiar—you know how they work and how best to use them. And they provide a level of comfort in their predictability. Things that fit into the category of high psychological value are your favorite coffee cup, your chair and side table, your favorite pots and pans and perhaps your small electronics like your clock or a radio.

When you’re making a move, there are those that might encourage you to replace those things with things that are newer, because they are probably showing their age. But if these are things that make every day better for you, you can almost always find a way to make them a part of your new nest.

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So what are things worth? At the end of the day, you bought things to use them. If they have some resale value now, that is a bonus. You bought them, you used them, you are getting something back. And those things will probably not be the things you are expecting them to be. But the things that have the most worth to you are those with sentimental and psychological value. Those are the things that are too valuable to put a price on.

 

 

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8 things we love for smaller living spaces

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Moving to a new space often means reconfiguring and rethinking how you arrange things or how you store things. Over the past 8 years, we found a few things that have come in darned handy to help our clients moving to smaller spaces make the most of that space.

FLAT PLUG EXTENSION CORDS

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Flat plug extension cord, Amazon.

One of the first jobs on move day is to get an extension cord in any outlet that will be behind a large piece of furniture. We love cords with flat plugs because they allow furniture to be closer to the wall.

NEW SURGE PROTECTORS!

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Surge protector, Lowes.

Okay, we like this for any living space, not just smaller ones. Surge protectors have a lifespan. If you’ve been using yours for more than 5 years, it’s probably time to replace it. Although we can’t endorse any particular brand, the Wirecutter blog can–here’s there list. ‘

SLIDE OUT KITCHEN TRASH BINS

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Slide out trash bin, The Container Store.

Nothing impedes the flow in a compact kitchen than having to dance around a wastebasket every time you cook. A under sink slide-out trash bin solves that problem.

SLIDE OUT PANTRY SHELVES

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Slide out drawer organizer, Wayfair.com

Many apartment kitchens have a deep pantry closet. The generous space is a beautiful thing, but having to go through contortions to get something out the the back is not. Slide out pantry shelves make it easier to get that elusive can of soup hiding behind the other cans, boxes and bottles.

LAZY SUSAN

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Lazy susan organizer, The Container Store.

A lazy susan can be worth it’s weight in cinnamon for organizing your spices, vitamins, teas and anything that comes in bottles and boxes whether tucked in a cabinet or on the counter.

VERTICAL PLATE ORGANIZER

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Vertical plate organizer, Bed, Bath & Beyond.

More compact kitchens may have less cabinet space. Storing your plates vertically uses cabinet space efficiently and makes them easier to grab as a bonus. If you’re one of the people who rotate the dishes you use so the wear on them is even across the set, you’ll really love an organizer like this.

BATHROOM STORAGE

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Wall mounted bathroom cabinet, CostPlus World Market.

The one place most of our clients really feel the space crunch is in the bathroom. Changing the habit of buying in bulk is step one. In an apartment, you have less storage, and that storage space might be better used for for your off season clothes rather than your 36 rolls of toilet tissue, 12 rolls of paper towels and 6 boxes of tissues. But even with paper products pared down, additional storage is usually needed.

Apartments often have storage under the sink and a medicine cabinet, but not much else.  A wall mounted storage cabinet or shelves is enormously helpful. Pinterest is stuffed to the gills with ideas for creative bathroom storage. One particularly clever idea: a shelf over the door for all those rolls of spare toilet tissue.

Wall mounted is usually a better choice than a floor standing storage unit. If you add a toilet seat with handles or a commode, there is a good chance the floor standing unit won’t fit behind it.

DOUBLE HANG CLOSET ROD

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Double hang closet rod, Home Depot.

Many apartments have nice walk-in closets. But with one clothes hanging shelf at a height for longer hanging garments, you give away a lot of space underneath your shorter hanging garments. Adding a second wall mounted shelf with a clothes hanging pole is the best choice, but short of that, and double hang rod that attaches to the top shelf is a quick, inexpensive fix.

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Please note that we don’t have any special affection or allegiance to the products shown. Versions of these products are available multiple places by multiple makers. We love the concepts and have used many versions of them when working with clients. And if you have something to add to the list, we’d love to know about it!

 

3 days to add to your calendar

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There are three days you might want to consider putting on your calendar every month. They aren’t something you have to juggle among other appointments, places you have to go and people you have to see. They are flexible commitments to yourself. We have so many obligations to others, it’s easy to forget to make time to do things that will make you feel a little happier and a little more in charge of your life.

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Day 1: Dangling Ends Day

Everyone has projects and/or tasks that never quite cross the finish line. For some reason, they get postponed or shoved to the back of the task pack. So they hover about like annoying little gray clouds. Declare one day a month Dangling Ends Day—a day to tie up all the loose ends on those projects and chase those clouds away. Believe me, the anticipation of getting those things done is always worse than actually doing them.

Dangling Ends Day requires some self commitment. If you write it on the calendar, you owe it to yourself to do what you’ve asked yourself to do. At the end of the day, you will be pretty darned pleased with yourself.

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Day 2: Phone a Friend Day

We have friends we see a lot, that are a part of our lives now. And we have friends that we don’t see all that often. They’re on our mind, but we just never manage to get together. And time passes; months can go by without talking to one another. That’s why we all need to make time on our schedules for Phone a Friend Day. It’s amazing how good it feels to make a simple phone call.

If you’re not a phone person, a great alternative is Write a Note Day. Texting is fun and fast, but there’s nothing nicer than to get a real letter in your mailbox.

box of donations

Day 3: Declutter Donation Day

We all have a few to many things in our lives. Some of us let them accumulate longer than others. Declare a Decluttering Donation Day every month. Whether you take magazines to the library magazine swap pile, clothes that you no longer need to a shelter or tchotchkes to a charity thrift store, make a point of making at least one donation run a month, getting things you no longer need to places that can do good with them.

That’s our short list. What kind of day would you add to your list to make you feel happier and less stressed?

Editing your workshop

A well-stocked workshop is a beautiful thing. Having the right tool, right screw, right dab of paint when you need it makes household repairs end in victory instead of an unplanned trip to the hardware store. But the workshop can also be a catchall full of “that might come in handy someday,” things you bought for one job a decade ago, and other mysterious hardware findings that somehow found their way into your life. If you’re an average human, your workshop has probably built up all kinds of hardware flotsam slowly over time.

Whether you’re staying where you are or in the beginning stages of downsizing, a bit of time editing of your workshop is time well spent. Reducing clutter, reminding yourself of what you actually have and tidying up will make finding whatever you need when you need it easier.

Wondering how and where to start? Sort things by type, rather than by area. Your hand tools might share a drawer with tape and paintbrushes, but it’s much easier to assess what you have when you gather like things. How else will you realize that some way, some how you have managed to have a bakers dozen of phillips head screw drivers?

workshop tools

Identify your key hand tools, sort out your extras

Looking at your hand tools, what are your essentials and what are your duplicates and surplus non-essentials? Group all the surplus together, you’ll be surprised at how many screwdrivers and measuring tapes you have. What to do with those no longer needed hand tools? Make up a tool box for someone in your family who is new to living on their own. Make up small kits to donate to furniture banks for families that have lost everything and are starting over. Donate individual tools to a non-profit Habitat for Humanity ReStore or a similar organization.

Review your power tools

Two things to think about with power tools: do you still use them and are they old enough that they’ve been outmoded by newer models have improved safety. Tools that take up space but haven’t been used for years can be donated, sold or passed on UNLESS they are no longer safe to use. Those should be recycled.

Some power tools represented big investments at the time they were purchased. But if you don’t use it, if you don’t need it or if it’s not safe, it has not earned a spot in your life and it’s time for it to move on.

workshop nails

Sort your nuts and bolts and bit and bobs

A good workbench has a nice assortment of hardware. Hardware is small, doesn’t take up much space and has a magical ability to multiply in stealthy ways over time. Look for screws you bought for one particular project—you needed two, you had to buy a box. And jars of rusty nails. And coffee cans of rusty  nails. And the ever popular little bags of hardware that came with furniture, window treatments etc. You will likely find that you have more brass brads than any one person will ever use in a lifetime. Edit down to what you are likely to use and donate or share the rest with others.

workshop miscellany

Equally able to multiply with stealth are the bits and bobs: outlet covers, adapters, picture hangers, plastic caps, felt furniture pads, lengths of chain, ceiling hooks, mending plates, L-brackets. If you don’t see a use for it in your immediate future, let it go.

workshop cans

Sort your cans and bottles

The workshop is a chemistry lab. There are solvents, lubricants, cleaners, putties, adhesives, paints, stains and everything in between. Start by sorting into three groups: useful, dried out/hardened, no longer needed.

Review the useful things so you know what you have. Put them back on the shelves, grouping like things together. The dried up things can go into the trash. The no-longer-needed things can be divided again into: things you can offer to others, new or nearly full things you can donate, things you can safely dispose of and things that are hazardous waste.

FYI: Old latex paint can be opened, mixed with cat litter and left somewhere with ventilation to harden. Once it’s hard, it can go in your regular trash. Alkaloid paints that clean up with spirits are.

Sort your project supplies

Sometimes a project requires specific supplies. The things that springs to mind immediately are decorative paint treatments, wall papering and laying tile. If you don’t see those projects happening again in your near future, pass on, donate and/or dispose of those things as is appropriate.

workshop glue tape

Take a look at what’s left

There are lots of things in a workshop that we haven’t talked about like tapes, painting supplies, pipe wraps, rolls of screen mesh, extension cords, twines and ropes, doorknobs, latches and more. Sort through the rest of these things with a trash can on one side and a donate box on the other side.

Step away from the rickety stepladder

Look at your collection of stepladders. Some might be best voted off the island for safety reasons. It might have lived a long full life and is a little rickety from age. Or it might be poorly designed and wasn’t particularly safe to use from the start. (Those are the ones without anything to hold on to when you are going up 2 or 3 steps.) And anything held together with duct tape should probably also be asked to leave.

It’s not a bad time to look at a step stools as well. If it has a non-slip top, wide balanced base and no duct tape reinforcements, it’s probably fine. If not, time to go!

And finally…

Now that you’ve sorted and organized, you may find yourself with storage boxes, drawers and bins that you don’t need anymore. Donate or pass them on, don’t leave them to fill up again! And give yourself a pat on the back at a job well done. Somewhere, someone is setting up their first workshop, and the things you no longer need will go on to have a new, useful life with them.

 

New year, new way to fold clothing

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We all have a favorite method for storing clothes in drawers. Some of us fold precisely, some of us roll and some of us are just fine with a random tangle as long as all the things with arms are in one drawer and the things with legs are in another drawer. When we’re on the job with a client, we fold clothes or linens their way. Myself, I alternate between roll and fold. But the new year always makes me itchy to try new things, so I decided to look into the whole Konmari folding thing.

What is Konmari? It’s the name of the organizing methods of international superstar organizing phenomenon, Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2011). For her true believers, it’s not a book, it’s the gospel of an organizing religion—ritual decluttering that enhances the quality of their lives. In the interest of learning something new that might help our move management team do our job better, I have tried to read the book. Multiple times. True confession, I have not succeeded. It’s a little strident for me.

At our NASMM conference a couple years ago, one of the presenters demonstrated the Konmari folding technique and while I was not an immediate convert, it stuck in my brain. Particularly the visual image of a t-shirt folded and placed vertically in the center of the table. It was still there, as she placed it, at the end of the hour. It wasn’t hard to find videos and diagrams to refresh my memory on Konmari folding. The internet is full of them.

In a shirt folding video, Marie Kondo lays the shirt flat, caresses it and thanks it for its service before folding it gently into a rectangle. With a cynical sigh, I emptied my shirt drawer and laid the first tee-shirt flat on the bed. As I smoothed it flat and folded it into the neat rectangle and folded it a couple more times until it became a tidy vertical-standing, gravity-defying parcel, I realized that shirt that made me happy every time I wore it because I loved the color and the cut. In spite of myself, eye rolls aside, I had thanked that teal blue raglan sleeve tee. I knew it had earned a spot in my life and my drawer.

I worked my way through the short sleeves, long sleeves, sweaters, sweatshirts, things with legs, things to wear on feet, unmentionables and cozy things to burrow under blankets in. That process of carefully flattening, folding into neat rectangles and lining up in the drawers was peculiarly enjoyable and ultimately liberating. For all the clothes I loved, there were a fair number that I tolerated; garments I kept because I spent money on them and not because they made me happy when I wore them. By fair number, I mean 6 large bags full of clothing that I sent on to either textile recycle because it was ratty and tatty or donation because it was in nearly new condition.

Dropping those 6 bags at their destinations felt marvelous. Fitting all my summer and winter clothing into my drawers and closet so nothing offseason was stored in the attic felt even better. My hope is that this exercise will keep me from purchasing things that are just meh; things I don’t really need and things that won’t add value to my wardrobe.

There are many videos out there, some featuring Marie Kondo and other featuring devotees demonstrating her methods. This book trailer for her second book, Spark Joy (2016) made the folding process super clear for me. And the video of her folding awkward clothing at New York’s 92stY is funny and charming.

While it’s not for everyone, you might be just as surprised as I was to find out that a simple change in how I folded my clothing could make me happy every time I open a drawer and find clothes I am fond of standing at attention, ready to lend me another day of service.

 

On being a matchmaker: finding new homes for no longer needed things

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What was once lost, was found again.

When our downsizing clients have things they no longer need, we put on our matchmaker caps. Our job is to get those things to the places where they will bring the best return if they can be sold, or where they can do the most good if they will be donated.

Some of the vintage pieces we sell online or in our small Northborough vintage shop are purchased by people who are looking for something from their past. It can be for all kinds of reasons…replacing a favorite book or adding pieces to a set of heirloom china. It’s always nice to be able to hear their story and share it with the particular client that item belonged to.

We found a nice story in our inbox today. One item we sold online on behalf of a client in December was a vintage three piece Goebel nativity set. Here’s what the buyer had to say:

“I just wanted to send you a note of thanks. When I was a child, my mom had this  set. When I was in about 3rd grade we were discussing the baby Jesus at school and were asked to bring in something related as a “show & tell.” I promised my mom I would treat the little figure with the utmost care. As the oldest of five kids, she could usually trust me. Of course, you know what happened, I lost Baby Jesus! I was sad and so was my mom. At Christmas this year, I gave the set back to her, including the Baby Jesus! It made her day.”

We can’t wait to tell our client that her Nativity set wound up making a very special Christmas gift for another family.

 

 

 

When good books grow moldy

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Specialized cleaners work to remediate mold at the Boston Public Library. (Photo from the BPL website)

The Boston Public Library (BPL) reopened its rare book collection today following ten weeks of painstaking remediation after mold spores were discovered on a medieval text and other documents in September. According to Smithsonian magazine, it’s thought that construction at the library caused the carefully controlled humidity in the department to be not so carefully controlled allowing the mold to grow. The Boston Globe reports that it took a specialized crew of 20 working daily for 10 weeks to clean the 500,000 books and 1 million manuscripts in the collection.

Most of us don’t have a rare book collection that numbers in the millions, but we do have a box of favorite books from our past stored away for a future day. If those books are stored in places where the only climate control is what the weather is that day (places like the garage, the basement or the attic) chances are pretty good that like that medieval text, they may have some mold spores. Or, more likely, fully grown and thriving mold colonies. One of the most disheartening feelings in the world is opening that special box of books and getting a nose full of musty, moldy, sad book smell.

Mold and mildew love nothing better than darkness, dampness and a tasty food source like a book. Once the fungus sets up shop and begins spreading its nasty spores, it doesn’t discriminate between outdated textbooks and beloved children’s books. Mold is an equal opportunity invader.

Unless the books are rare, valuable or irreplaceable, it’s best to dispose of moldy books. Not donate, dispose. It’s painful to do, but really it’s the only choice. It’s not worth the risk that by donating you may send the book somewhere it can spread mold to someone else’s collection or even worse, send it to the home of someone sensitive to mold like a person with asthma.

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Moldy book spine, photo from inspecttopedia.com

Moldy and musty books can be cleaned, but it’s a time intensive process. Books that have great sentimental or financial value are likely best cleaned by a trained conservation professional. Books that are not quite so pedigreed, but are worth the sweat equity to try and save can be worked on at home. There is a lot of information about how to do this from true book lovers and experts available on the internet–a simple search will give you lots of methods to try.  We are certainly not experts, but we’ve found that sunshine, fresh air and a gentle wiping can go a long way towards freshening a sentimental favorite.

If your book has rusty reddish spots, you might have foxing instead of mold. Foxing happens when the minerals in the paper change over time. Foxing isn’t pretty, but it also isn’t terrible and invasive. Mold can generally be distinguished from foxing because it comes in a dingy rainbow of colors: blues, blacks, grays, greens, yellows.

Disheartening though it may be to find that your beloved copy of Little Women, Nancy Drew Secret of the Old Oak or To Kill a Mockingbird has been feasted upon by fungus, the good news is that for many titles, another copy can be found through a reputable online seller.

Smoke Detector Battery Change Day!

Today is the day to change the batteries in your smoke detector.
Today is the day to change the batteries in your smoke detector.

Happy National Change-the-Battery-in-your-Smoke-Detector Day! More commonly known as the day you get to sleep an extra hour thanks to daylight savings time, there is no better way to celebrate this once a year holiday than to get out the step ladder and change the batteries in your smoke detectors. And while you’re at it, take the celebration to a higher level and change the battery in your carbon monoxide detector as well.

Daylight savings time marks the beginning of the time of year when space heaters, candles and fireplaces see common use because if it’s going to get dark at 4 p.m., it’s nice to be warm and cozy. Open flames and heating elements are always pointed to as dangerous. But interestingly enough, according to the U.S. Fire Administration nearly 50% of household fires are caused by cooking. Who knew that the creme brûlée in your oven is more likely to start a fire than your creme brûlée scented candle?

While you’re changing the battery in your smoke detector, you might find that you wrote the date you installed the the original detector written on it somewhere. If you did that, you are very  savvy indeed, because like most pieces of equipment, smoke detectors have life spans. Consumer Reports magazine says the life expectancy of a smoke detector is 10 years. After 10 years, out with the old, in with the new. They also report that pressing the test button tells you only if your battery still has juice in it. The test button does not tell you whether or not the inner bits of the smoke detector that do the important work are functional.

The number of smoke detectors your home needs depends on the size and type of home. The National Fire Protection Association spells out the specifics for optimum installation very clearly on their website. There are different types of smoke detectors: ionization, which detects flaming fires best and photoelectric, which is better at catching smoldering fires. Your house should have a combination of types. For sound sleepers and those who have hearing loss, there are smoke detectors with flashing strobe lights and smoke detector accessories that shake the bed.

Today is a great day to show the friends and family who are special to you just how important they are to you by showing up at their house with either replacement batteries or a new smoke detector. It’s one of those tasks that a lot of us think about doing but plan to take care of it…tomorrow…or the next day. Surprising someone by turning up to do it for them is the kind of surprise that puts a spring in their step. It’s the kind of surprise that will take some of the sting out of the realization that it’s going to be dark by 4 pm today (and for the next few months).

Today may just be the easiest-peasiest holiday of the year to throw a proper celebration. You don’t need costumes, fancy food, gift wrap or decorations to celebrate National-Change-the-Battery-in-your-Smoke-Detector-Day. All you need is a step ladder, the right batteries and a dollop of let’s do it. We hope you made good use of your bonus hour today, now get out there and celebrate!

Clothing moth confidential: the holey truth about keeping moths at bay

Life stages of the clothing moth: eggs, larvae and adult moth. From USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series.
Life stages of the clothing moth: eggs, larvae and adult moth. From USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series.

Right around Halloween, we start packing away our light summer wear and unpacking our winter woolies. Occasionally that simple task turns into something out of a horror movie if your sweaters and tartans have been invaded by clothing moths.

Clothing moths are determined little insects with an appetite for more than just wool. We’ve seen their telltale holes and webbing on almost any fiber that comes from an animal. And they don’t just fancy clothing—they’re equally happy in carpets, furniture, blankets and yarn.

Like most stealth invaders, moths do their best work in the dark, meaning they’re likely to be found in attics, basements and closets. And it’s not the moths themselves that do the damage, it’s the larvae. You’re unlikely to find them on a coat you wear regularly or in the dining room oriental carpet. But a coat that’s been stored in a closet for a few years, or a rug that’s rolled and stored under the bed…that’s another story.

Moth balls have been used for generations to repel clothing moths. An open box of moth balls in a closet won’t actually do any good. Moth balls work by slowly degrading into a toxic pesticide gas. If you’re not trapping that gas in small tightly sealed area, it’s probably not strong enough to actually kill moths. And do you really want to sleep in blankets or wear jackets that are steeped in toxic gas anyway?

Cedar blocks certainly smell nicer than moth balls, but they’re also not terribly useful for repelling moths. The aromatic oils evaporate quickly, and even when fresh, there’s no real scientific evidence that they scare off moths.

One way to find out if you have moths is to hang moth traps in areas where they are likely to hang out. Traps are pheromone attractors with sticky pads of glue that capture moths that are intoxicated by the smell and venture in. If you get moths in your traps, you know it’s time to do a thorough assessment and cleaning.

The best way to find out if you have an infestation is to carefully examine natural fiber textiles when you’re taking them out of storage. Take them outside into good light and look carefully for the holes and webbing patches. If you find damage, seal the textile in a plastic bag and keep it outside until you can have it cleaned. You can also vacuum rugs to remove any larvae or eggs—but remove and dispose of the bag before bringing it back into the house.

Thoroughly clean or dispose of whatever the mothy items were stored in. If it’s a wooden chest, take it outside into the sunshine, vacuum and wash it. If it’s a basket or cloth bag, dispose of it. It’s not worth the risk of re-infesting your Nordic sweaters.

Freezing temperatures kill moth larvae. If you have a cold garage and can leave mothy items there for a few days, it’s always a good idea to do so before having the garment or carpet cleaned.

The best way to prevent moths from getting a hold on your closet is to properly clean and store textiles in tightly sealed containers. Routinely vacuum rugs, tapestry and upholstery. Feel free to be overly cautious, better safe than holey. It is much, much easier to prevent moths from getting into things than to get rid of them.

If you’re an antique or vintage lover, don’t bring moths into your house with a beautiful antique rug or vintage swing coat. The cost of cleaning prior to bringing anything that’s been in someone else’s house into your house will be well worth it. And don’t store things in a fantastic antique trunk until it’s had a few days of sunlight and a thorough vacuuming or three.

By the same token, if you are sorting through your no longer needed clothing and you discover moths, either dispose of the clothes or have them cleaned before you donate or sell them. You don’t want to inadvertently spread moths to a house that doesn’t have them.

Clothing moths are not the worst thing that can happen to you, and if you find them in your things, rest assured, you are not alone. Dealing with them thoroughly takes time, but it’s well worth the effort—particularly if you are transitioning to a new home. Moths definitely do not have a place on the list of things to bring with you!

You can find more details on moths, moth balls and moth prevention here:

The National Pesticide Information Center

The Utah State University Extension Service

The Insect Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University

Is it Treasure? Is it Trash?

“We’ve already started throwing stuff away.”

Six words guaranteed to make a senior move manager wince because chances are pretty good that some treasures went into that trash. The world of antiques and vintage goods is quirky. Even experts have a hard time keeping up with what’s hot and what’s not.

Items commonly perceived as having high resale value, perhaps because they had the highest original purchase price, aren’t always the items that command the highest resale prices. Humble Pyrex, for example, can be more valuable than fine china. A bureau from the right era can be worth more than an entire dining room set. One vintage cookbook can be worth more than a dozen current best sellers.

While senior move managers are not appraisers, we have a general knowledge of the stuff of everyday life, and know what has good sale potential. We’ll work with clients to take their no longer needed items and find the best venues to achieve the best return. And we also know when it’s time to call in an appraiser for items of high value.

It’s not uncommon for elders to become clients after they’ve started trying to downsize on their own and been overwhelmed by the process. As glad as we are to step in then, we can provide the best support and value if we’re there before those first trash bags get filled.  Many clients find that the income generated by selling unwanted items covers all or part of the cost of our services.

Beyond assisting clients with selling items of value, senior move managers can also arrange for items that don’t have resale value but are still serviceable to be donated to appropriate charities. And every home has items that can’t be donated or sold, items that do need to be disposed of.  Senior move managers can insure that those items are disposed of responsibly.