Spanish moss may look like some kind of infestation or parasite, but the plant is a useful commodity in some southern states. A bromeliad distantly related to the pineapple, Spanish moss has been woven by Native Americans since before Europeans came to America. Pioneers also wove the plant, and it was later adapted for stuffing in mattresses and car seats. Today, Spanish moss is used in a wide variety of crafts including weaving. Before using Spanish moss you must get rid of any insects and remove the outer coating.
Put on protective clothing including long pants, long sleeves and gloves before collecting and handling Spanish moss. Treat the cuffs of your clothing with bug spray. Chiggers frequently inhabit Spanish moss and can crawl under clothing and cause welts.
Shake each section of moss you collect to dislodge any birds, lizards or flying insects.
Place the Spanish moss in a stock pot that is 1/2 full of water, then bring the water to a boil. The green outer coating will separate from the hairlike black center during the boiling process. Boil the moss until all of the coating has separated from the moss. Transfer the moss to a sink using a pair of tongs and rinse it with cold water from the tap or a sink sprayer. Leave the moss in the sink until it is cool.
Hang the moss to dry over a clothesline or spread it out over a piece of unfolded newspaper.
Save and dry the gray outer coating once it separates from Spanish moss as well as the water you boiled the moss in. The coating can be used for mulch in your garden and the water makes good fertilizer.