Despite its name, Spanish moss is not a moss at all. Instead it's a bromeliad, which makes it distantly related to the pineapple. Spanish moss was long used by Native Americans prior to the arrival of colonists. Over the years, the fibrous plant has been used to lash together the beams of houses, stuff mattresses and been mixed with clay for both pottery and plaster for homes. Before you use Spanish moss today, you have to treat it to remove mites such as chiggers as well as to strip off the outer coating.
Put on long sleeves, long pants, and gloves before going out to gather Spanish moss. Spray your clothes and any exposed skin with a bug repellent to keep away biting insects such as mosquitoes or chiggers. Wear the protective clothing through the entire process of gathering and preparing the Spanish moss.
Examine any Spanish moss you harvest for frogs, lizards, birds or other animals. Remove these animals before taking Spanish moss home.
Place Spanish moss into a stock pot and fill the pot with water until the moss is completely covered.
Place the pot on a stove and bring the water to a rolling boil.
Place a colander in the sink and pour the contents of the stock pot into the colander.
Spread out a piece of newspaper on a flat surface in a dry, well-ventilated room. Pull Spanish moss out of the colander and spread it over the newspaper to dry.
Pull off your protective clothing and wash it. Take a shower to clean away any biting mites such as chiggers that live in Spanish moss.