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Ask Martha

Packing jewelry so it doesn’t tangle

To keep chunky jewelry from tangling during travel, pack it in a resealable bag with the clasp hanging out. Tony Cenicola/The New York Times/The New York Times

Q. Do you have any tips on packing jewelry for traveling?

A. Thin herringbone or serpentine-chain jewelry is often the first to tangle during travel. The secret to keeping your delicate pieces unknotted when on the go is likely right in your kitchen: Use drinking straws, says packing expert Anne McAlpin.

Take a standard-size straw without an adjustable elbow and slide your necklace through it so the ends dangle out each side. Then clasp the necklace back together. If you’re packing a short necklace or a bracelet, cut the straw down to half the chain’s length so you’re able to clasp it. This method prevents the chain from twisting around itself or other items. Store the straw-encased jewelry inside a travel toothbrush case.


Pack chunkier pieces separately in snack-size resealable plastic bags. Lay each flat inside its own bag, squeeze the air out, and zip the bag shut, leaving only the clasp hanging out the top. (Immobilizing the loop of each piece prevents movement and tangling.) Stack them inside a plastic container.

Storing linens

Q. How do I keep my linens smelling fresh when storing them in a closet?

A. Moist air and warm temperatures encourage mildew to grow on organic materials such as cotton and wool, resulting in musty linens. To prevent this, keep the linens in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated closet. If you must store them in a bathroom or similarly humid setting, wire shelving will help the items breathe. After a shower or bath, turn on an exhaust fan for at least 20 minutes to dehumidify the room. If you don’t have a fan in your bathroom, try placing moisture-absorbing products, such as silica-gel packets, a bundle of chalk, or a box of baking soda, in the space with your linens. Another option: Install an incandescent light bulb; the heat from the bulb will dry the air. If these measures still aren’t enough, consider investing in a dehumidifier.


If moisture isn’t the problem, and you’re simply looking to maintain that just-laundered scent, try making homemade no-sew sachets filled with cedar shavings or dried lavender, cloves, spearmint, or thyme. Put whichever of these fresheners you prefer into small cotton muslin bags ($4 for 10, — the type commonly used to mull spices and make tea. Once they’re filled, cinch the bags closed and place one on each shelf of the closet. (As an added bonus, every one of these natural ingredients is considered to be moth-repellent.)

Or for a quick store-bought solution, layer scented dryer sheets between towels and sheet sets, says Stephen Cardino, vice president and fashion director of Macy’s Home Store. If you are allergic or sensitive to perfumes, place an open box of dryer sheets in the closet, so the sheets aren’t directly touching your linens. Replace the sheets or the box every few months, or when they are no longer fragrant. Alternatively, you can store an unlit scented candle or a bar of soap in the closet to keep everything fresh.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.