Some sources say that as many as one out of every five people suffer from airborne allergies. With so many people who have allergies, it is likely that a knitter will have allergies, or someone living in the same home as the knitter will. By storing your yarn carefully, you can avoid your yarn stash housing extra allergens. Here are some tips for managing your yarn stash:
Don't Store Your Yarn In The Open For years my favorite place to store my yarn stash was in pretty baskets, with the skeins carefully arranged and placed around my home. This strategy for yarn storage does give a home a warm and cozy look, but it leaves your yarn right out where it can collect animal dander, dust, molds and even pollens if left near an open window on a high pollen count day. Additionally, if left in the open for a long period of time you risk your yarn fading from light.
Store Yarn in a Pillow Protector Special zip up pillow covers are available for allergy sufferers to cover their pillows. Different pillow covers offer different levels of allergen protection. Since you are not looking for comfort, a noisy or rustly pillow cover may make a great storage bag for your yarn. Simply purchase the most affordable zip up protector for the allergens you need to be safe from. This is also a good option to store your current project in if you believe it may take you awhile to complete.
Space Bags Those plastic bags that allow the user to vacuum out excess air, thereby compressing the volume of the bag can also be a great way to store your yarn. It will be safe from molds, dust mites, and other airborne indoor allergens. Be sure to use a HEPA level filtered vacuum cleaner when sucking out the air.
Food Vacuum Sealer Bags This is pretty much the same as the Space Bag idea above. Food vacuum sellers can remove even more air, and the flatter shape may make storing the bag even easier.
Depending on your specific allergies, you may be able to treat yarn that has been exposed to an allergen. Prevention is your best bet, but isn't always possible.
If your yarn has pollens, you may be able to gently wash the skeins or balls by placing them in a mesh lingerie bag and gently washing with a mild detergent. Be sure to rinse well, and then remove as much excess water as possible by gently squeezing the bag. Then take the bag outdoors and spin your arm like a fast windmill. While it may seem silly, it will remove the most water and is much more gentle than most washing machines.
If your yarn has dust mites on it, seal it up in one of the previous mentioned bags, and stick in your freezer. This will kill any dust mites. After the yarn has had a really good freeze, take the yarn out doors and shake off any dust mite dander. You should probably wear a dust mask when shaking out the yarn.
Hopefully, these tips will allow you to manage your yarn stash in an allergy friendly way. If you have any more tips or have found any of these tips really useful, please share them in the knitting forum.