Save Your Fabrics And See How To Get Rid Of Clothes Moths

Pests around the house is a real nightmare! From bed bugs and dust mites to carpet beetles. Well, it doesn’t end there! Summer is an excellent time for numerous celebrations and vacations, but it also has a significant drawback. We’ve all been there one way or another, enthusiastically bringing out our summer clothes from the back of the closet only to discover that they’re riddled with moth holes. Clothes moths are a pain to deal with, and they also have an unsettling habit of feasting on your favourite clothes. Not to mention that this happens with your winter wear as well!

Woman hands holding a pink knitted thing with hole made by moth

They particularly fancy natural fibres such as silk, wool, and leather. Hence, the sooner you get rid of these pests, the less moth damage you have. Below you will find some top tips on how to get rid of moths and prevent them from returning so that you can preserve and maintain your favourite items. 

What attracts them to your wardrobe?

The main type of moths that can be found in the UK and that can infest homes are webbing and casemaking clothes moths, as well as pantry moths. Many people are curious as to what attracts these pests indoors. 

It is a common understanding that light attracts moths, and in many circumstances, this is correct. At night, moths congregate around outside lighting or windows, where they can enter through tiny crevices or open doors.

However, not all moth infestations are caused by light. Pantry moths like brightly lighted areas once they’ve gotten inside, but moths avoid them. Female moths lay their eggs in remote, dark locations. Knowing what attracts them in terms of feeding and habitat can assist homeowners in locating them before they cause significant harm.

Clothes moths feed on animal-based fibre textiles such as fur, wool, and silk in closets. Keratin is a protein found in animal fibres that gives moth larvae something to devour. However, Keratin is also found in human hair and skin, which makes up a major portion of household dust and is equally appealing to moths

Homeowners who detect clothing damage may be dealing with only one of two varieties of moths: webbing or casemaking. Webbing clothes moths like wool, but they can eat and harm other fabrics as well. During the feeding process, they spin a mat or tube of silk webbing to hide from view. Casemaking clothes moths feed on the insides of the tubes they build from the afflicted clothes’ silk and fibres. Both pests leave behind their faeces and chew uneven holes in your clothes.

Moth species that deposit their eggs in stored grains and processed foods are attracted to pantry goods at home too. Infested food packets are a common entry point for these pests. Their eggs grow into larvae that devour grains, dried nuts, cereals, and a range of processed foods after they’ve gotten inside. 

Cloth moth trap in a wardrobe

Signs that you have a clothes moths infestation

The first step towards moth treatment is recognising that you have a moth problem in the first place. The indicators aren’t normally visible until the clothes moth larvae have caused some harm. Take a look at this list:

  1. Wool items, such as clothes, blankets, and carpets, will have furrows, silky tunnels, or trenches.
  2. Furs that shed excessively.
  3. Wool rugs have patches of deterioration, especially in less-used places.
  4. Tiny tubes cling to certain fibres. These tubes are also known as the “cases” that the larvae of the casemaking clothes moth make and reside in.
  5. Fabrics, rugs, and clothes have little crusty accumulations.
  6. If you don’t have wool, silk or cashmere sweaters, you might see damage to cotton, linen, and other less desired feeding sources as well.
  7. Despite having wings, some will fly away, while others will crawl away.

How to get rid of them step-by-step

The first step in dealing with a clothing moth infestation is to correctly identify which type of moth it is and hunt for potential breeding grounds for the larvae. Bring the clothes into a bright place for a better inspection and start the eradication procedures.

Man cleaning and vacuuming a closet

Give the affected area a thorough cleaning

Vacuum the closet, box, or other storage location where the contaminated items were kept thoroughly. Pay special attention to the corners and edges of the room, as these are likely places where they may discover food. 

If your room is carpeted, vacuum it thoroughly too, and if it is particularly dirty, consider having it professionally cleaned. Synthetic fibres are inedible to moths, but any carpet can provide food supplies by trapping pet hair and other natural materials. 

Clothes moths can infest furniture and can be found underneath and even inside couches, chairs, and other upholstery items and storage locations. The most straightforward technique to get rid of them is to do a thorough inspection and vacuuming.

Wash or dry clean your fabrics

Clothes and other fabric items should be washed in a washing machine with very hot water to remove larvae. The temperature must be over 50 degrees Celsius. While the most common temperature setting is usually 50 to 60 degrees, the water will lose some heat on its route to the washer. Therefore, dry cleaning your items can be a more effective procedure, and it is required for many wool, silk, and delicate knitwear to avoid fabric damage.

Use cold to kill moths

If you don’t want to wash the clothes for some reason, you can try freezing them instead. Place items in polyethene plastic bags (such as zip-type storage bags), seal them well and store them in a freezer at –17 degrees Celsius or even below. 

Freeze the items for one week, then take them out and give them time to air dry. A good seal is necessary to avoid frost and moisture, both of which can cause damage to your items.

Use heat to kill them

Because clothing moth larvae cannot withstand temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius, they can be killed in an oven or a clothes dryer. Set your oven to a temperature higher than 50 degrees Celsius for wool or other heat-resistant, all-natural items, and place the items on a baking sheet in the oven’s centre rack.

Allow for 30 minutes of cooking time before removing the items and let them cool down. Avoid using this procedure on synthetic or heat-sensitive fabrics and anything with plastic buttons or other synthetic elements. Moths on dryable items can be killed by putting them in the dryer for at least 30 minutes on high heat.

Consider Synthetic fibres

Adult clothes moths can be trapped and killed with such items, stopping them from reproducing. Moth traps are sticky flypaper pieces that are coated with moth pheromones to attract adult moths.

Those that settle on the paper are unable to dislodge themselves and will die as a result. Pheromone traps should be hung in places where moths are known to congregate, such as inside closets.

Smart ways to prevent them

Once you’ve successfully controlled moths, there are a few simple moth control steps you can follow to prevent them from returning:

Woman using cloth anti moth lavender for her sweaters

Vacuum-seal unused clothes

Clothing and bedding that have not been worn are a perfect food source for them as they love to breed and feast in dark wardrobes and drawers. Sealing your out-of-season items and bedding in vacuum bags, which are also great space savers, is the best method to protect them.

Just make sure the clothes are washed at high temperatures first before storing. Otherwise, you’ll just be making things worse by spreading the infestation rather than preventing it. 

Also, instead of using plastic hangers, you can use cedarwood hangers and consider using insecticides or lavender-scented moth repellent sachets in your wardrobe to keep them at bay as moths hate the smell. Plus, placing mothballs on top of your folded clothes can help keep them away.

Protect your clothes when travelling

Clothes moth eggs spread quickly from contaminated clothing or furniture. If you’re going on vacation or staying at someone else’s house, dry clean or wash your items at 60 degrees Celsius to kill any eggs or larvae and break their life cycle. To be extra cautious, put your clothes in zipped containers before packing them to prevent your luggage from becoming infested.

Hoover your house regularly

Clothes moths will not lay their eggs in routinely disturbed locations, and hoovering a possible moth nest is the quickest way to disturb it. But, a simple sweep of the floors won’t cut it. Instead, you’ll need to walk behind furniture, along skirting boards, and deep into the crevices of the stair walls, all of which are popular places for clothing moths to deposit their eggs.

There’s a good chance you’ve created moth heaven if you forget to clean any portion of your house for weeks or even months. As a last option, or if you’re planning to remodel your house anyway, tossing out wool carpets will dramatically minimise your chances of moth infestation.

Don’t leave behind any fabrics in the attic or basement

Rolls of carpet cut-offs, craft materials, or soft toys stored in attics or basements can well be a surprising prevalent source of infestation. Any forgotten materials that have been stored for months or even years might very well harbour a swarming colony, which is only detected when the population has grown large enough to spread throughout the rest of the house.

Cashmere sweaters with holes by cloth moths

While it is true that moths have been on the loose throughout the UK, particularly in London, that is no reason to give up. With this guide, you can solve the problem yourself! All you need is to gather some tools that you already have and go for it! Follow the care tips above and they will be gone… for good!

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