Clothes face more than one type of hardship in their shelf life. Stains are not the only ones that can damage a piece of clothing or fabric; pests like clothes moths can also be a serious problem that poses danger to your clothes. This is where the knowledge of how to get rid of clothes moths comes in handy.
What Are Clothes Moths and How Do You Identify Them?
Clothes moths feed on animal fibers, so fabrics like wool, fur, silk, felt, feathers, and leather can be especially in danger from these naughty pests. These materials contain keratin that these moths can digest.
These pests are usually ½ inch in size and are mostly beige in color. It’s a rare thing to spot a clothes moth in the daylight because they avoid light, and so, they are attracted to dark and undisturbed spaces in the house, and that could be your closet, the basement, or the attic.
There are two types of clothes moths, namely the webbing clothes moths and the case-making clothes moths. Webbing clothes moths are usually unicolor, while case-making clothes moths have some dark specs on their wings.
Nevertheless, they are both a problem with your clothes. They can be unnoticeable for quite some time until you realize they pose real damage to your fabrics. The most probable victims of clothes moths are the following:
- Items made of animal fur or fabric made with any animal byproduct, e.g., wool, silk, and leather.
- Upholstered furniture and draperies.
- Synthetic fabrics that have wool as a mixture, or any fabric that contains wool.
- Dirty and damp fabrics. Garments that retain moisture are also very much a target for these pests.
- Items that contain or are made up of animal hair or things that contain both human and animal hair
How to Spot Clothes Moths
Clothes moths are like ninjas. They are not very noticeable, and so there’s a possibility that you will only notice the infestation once you see the tell-tale holes on your clothes. These pests do not choose what they eat, so they can damage both the cheap and expensive ones in your closet.
Identify your enemy
Even before you spot the damage on your clothes, when you notice something is off, or maybe you have seen a moth pass by you, take action.
You need to investigate what type of moth that is and consider the possibility that they are planning to infest and feed on your things. Seeing a brown house moth or a common clothes moth is alarming, and when you do, you need to take action immediately.
With your suspicion and evidence, you should start hunting these pests down before they cause greater damage. Time is a matter of importance in addressing clothes moths because they can cause more damage as you leave them alone to feast on your clothes.
Contrary to what some people may think, clothes moths actually like to avoid light. They prefer to stay in dark and undisturbed places where they can lay their eggs in peace. You start in places where light seldom hits, like the back of your cabinet or in your cabinets and compartments.
You should watch out for signs of creamy white larvae with brown heads. Once you found their lair, it would be hard to miss because a female moth lays a whole lot of eggs at a time.
Look for obvious signs
You can recognize an infestation by looking out for these signs.
- Detecting silky tunnels or trenches on your clothing
- Tube-like materials attached to your clothes can be cases from case-making clothes moths.
- Furs shed excessively.
- Patches of damage in rugs or fabrics.
Always remember that although clothes moths opt for animal-based fabrics, leathers, furs, feathers, and taxidermy, they will always find other materials that are saturated with tasty oils. In other words,
Getting Rid of Clothes Moths for Good
When you confirm the infestation of clothes moths in your closet, you need to immediately get rid of them. There are a number of ways and methods to get rid of moths, and it can require extra time, patience, and effort, but it will be worth it after these pests are gone. The process of getting rid of them can be challenging. Nevertheless, you would need to take planned steps to have a more effective outcome.
Set up a trap
You can set these pests up and use clothes moth alerts. You can put these in places where you deem these moths would like to lurk. This pest trap is designed to lure clothes moths and kill them.
This is more opted for than mothballs because it emits less smell. This trap only sets up the adult moths, so you would need to do an extra job for the larvae, which are the ones that actually cause major damage to your fabrics.
Shake them off
One way to knock out of position or sway these larvae to the point of dislocation is to shake your fabrics. Inspect the garment with vigor and keep your eyes peeled for any sign of larvae. Once they fall on the ground, you can quickly suck them up using your vacuum.
Wash ‘em all!
To get rid of the majority, if not every larvae present on your fabrics, washing is a good step. This being said, you would need to launder each and every piece of clothing. In other words, everything. To eliminate these pests, wash your clothes on high heat. High temperatures will surely kill any moths and their young.
In terms of washing, not everything can be washed. You might need to do a separate action for these things. Get some plastic bags, place the fabrics in them, and seal them. The next step is to place them in the freezer for 12 hours. Extremely cold temperatures will also kill moths and their young.
Most of the time, when you don’t have the time and energy to deal with these pests, you can call the closest and most trusty professional exterminator. This method can be quite costly, but it may be the best solution to your moth problem.
Preventing Your Clothes from Clothes Moths
Prevention is better than cure. And so, before you even feel the need to “get rid” of these clothes, it’s best to not go through all those processes again. Preventing them from infestation can be done by doing the following.
Wash your clothes thoroughly
Clothes moths are usually drawn to perspiration and food stains. To avoid these pests from taking an interest in your wardrobe, wash your clothes carefully and thoroughly, making sure they have no reason to get interested.
Make sure your closet gets ample ventilation
Ventilation is critical in preventing a damp, musty environment in your storage areas, which encourages and attracts clothes moths.
Carefully store clothes
Your wool clothes that you will be using in the next season or clothes that you opt to keep until next time should be properly stored. You may need to purchase a vacuum storage box for this as the cardboard box is unstable and larvae can just chew through it.
Hanging over stacking
Clothes moths do not just like the dark, they also prefer undisturbed and still places. This means your stacked clothes are more vulnerable to moth infestation than your hanging fabrics.
Employ natural moth repellents
It’s good to maximize clothes moths’ weaknesses too. You can place cedar wood rings inside your new organizer or dresser. You can also use hangers made of this material.
Clean your drawers and closets regularly. Hygiene beats these pests. When your space is always clean, they do not have the time or any reason to infest your space.
More Tips on Getting Rid of Clothes Moths
Do not panic
When you’ve confirmed the infestation, do not panic, as it will not help at all. You need to get your game plan ready instead. If you think you can’t handle the pests alone, contact a friend or let a family member help.
You can use insecticide
When a garment is quite large and you can’t seem to wash it or freeze it, you can opt to spray insecticide on the garment.
Spot and discard damaged clothes
Once you spot damage and you deem it non-reusable, discard them. You can patch up or fix up some damage by sewing, but it does not work for all damaged items. Keeping these damaged items can encourage pests to “still” stay or come back once their situation gets better.
Cleanliness is key
While cleanliness is not the only factor, cleaning up regularly helps prevent clothes moth infestation. They won’t have any undisturbed places to disturb, and you can also clean up any unnecessary things every now and then too, saving space.
Pests are very annoying and can cost you money too. For clothes, there are moths that could go around damaging your clothes unprovoked. When you spot them, it’s important to know how to get rid of clothes moths. This way, you get to save your clothes from infestation or fight the infestation when it happens.
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.