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cedar boards stacked

Cedar has all sorts of benefits that are both aesthetic and practical in many areas of the home, including the closet. Here are some reasons why you want cedar to be near your clothes when you aren’t.

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I bought a load of cedar wood to burn this year. It’s hot and long lasting, stretching my firewood dollar and my burn times. I call pieces of wood like this ‘overnighters’. They get mixed in with other wood so the house is warm in the morning.

I was splitting some cedar for kindling last week, releasing that wonderful aroma of fresh cedar. The smell is so rich and delicious, and cedar lumber is so expensive, it seems criminal to burn it! I’ll call it my guilty pleasure to be able to enjoy it every day.

Each time I crack open a cedar branch, I am immediately transported to my childhood.

Playing in the attic

When my parents designed and built the house I grew up in, they included a small cedar closet in the attic. During her spring cleaning, my mother would swap out winter clothes for summer clothes. Woolens would go to the cedar closet – my dad’s overcoat and winter suits, cashmere sweaters and scarves, wool gloves, hats and jackets and wool blankets. The following fall, we’d be wearing and sleeping in that luscious aroma again. It was heavenly.

I used to play dress-up in the attic, trying on things my mother had stashed away. They might have gone out of style, or my mother was waiting for enough to accumulate to take to Good Will. Whatever the reason, it was always a fun day in the attic.

I’d pop into the cedar closet, not to play with the clothes, but just to take in the aroma that was not found anywhere else. It was that special!

Like I said, burning cedar for heat seems like a crime, but I am doubly warmed by the memories of this special room in our attic.

History

Cedar has been used for centuries to repel insects and mildew, which damage natural fibers. In Ancient Egypt, chests were carved of a single piece of wood to store and protect linens and papyrus documents.

Trunks and chests were made of cedar panels in 18th century Europe. A hundred years later, entire cedar closets became associated with the affluent, and cedar has had that reputation since then. It’s now a fraction of the cost to add cedar to an existing closet. There are solid wood planks and cedar chipboard that make it accessible to the general population.

cedar lined closet

Mothballs are toxic

Once again, technology has taken a perfectly natural pest repellent and created a toxic chemical to replace it. Do you like the smell of mothballs? Granted, it’s one of those scents that brings back memories of grandmother’s spotless home, but it is poison. That reminiscent aroma is a toxic insecticide, naphthalene or para-dicholorobenzene, which kills moths and their eggs. Mothballs are almost 100% active ingredient with little to no filler, so they are very potent!

The negative health effects of exposure range from the cataracts and retinal damage to liver damage, neurological damage, and cancer. Mothballs are very dangerous to infants, cats and dogs if they are ingested.

Benefits of cedar

The aroma of cedar comes from the natural oil in the wood. Moths and roaches find it disgusting. It repels them, instead of killing them, the way mothballs do. No one gets hurt, and your woolens and linens stay hole-free. Cedar also pulls moisture from the air, reducing the chance for mildew that can ruin clothes.

An entire closet should be lined for cedar to work best. As I mentioned, there are solid wood tongue-and-groove planks and cedar chipboard available. The grain of cedar is rich and warm, just like its aroma. Not only is it effective, but it also does the job beautifully. If the cedar seems to be less aromatic, it can be refreshed with a few swipes of fine sandpaper once a year.

Pest repellent never looked or smelled so good! Create some healthy memories for your grandchildren. Install a cedar closet this year!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.