Have you ever taken woolen clothes out of storage for the winter and discovered that they were wormed? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably offered up some pretty colorful profanity in the answer. Luckily, there’s good news: There are easy ways to repel clothes moths so they don’t eat your longjon.
- 1 What are clothes moths?
- 2 How to stop these species
- 3 How to deal with clothes mite infestation
- 4 Avoid using chemicals
What are clothes moths?
There are two main types of clothes moths that like to gnaw on our clothes. The webbing is a cloth moth (tinola bicelliella🙂
The second is the casemaking cloth moth (tinea pallionella🙂
Both species avoid light, which is why they prefer to burrow into comfy piles of cloth to hide and breed.
Also, they both like to eat wool or wool blended clothes. In a pinch, they will eat fur and feathers, as well as cotton or linen.
Interestingly, they like to chew on the clothes they have worn recently. Probably sweat, and the skin cells impart a particularly fun taste to them. This is probably why they will also turn to hair (both human and pet) that has accumulated in dark corners. Eve.
Symptoms of clothes moth infestation
The main way to tell if you’re dealing with clothing mites is that large pieces have been chewed on by your wool clothing. Many people discover this type of damage when they put heavy coats and warm clothes out of storage in the autumn. Then they’ll see the telltale powder casing glued to the fabric and holes cut out of everything.
These moths leave behind the spider web along with the above mentioned powdery chrysanthemum husk. Depending on what point in their development cycle you detect their presence, you may also find streaks of tiny white eggs between layers of fabric.
These eggs lay eggs in three to eight days, and the larvae that hatch out are voracious. If you only have mild insect damage on your clothes, consider yourself lucky! You won’t believe what these things can destroy if you don’t catch an infection in time.
How to stop these species
Although clothes moths are really annoying pests, you can actually prevent them quite easily. They have acute olfactory senses, so certain scents will encourage them to fly elsewhere in search of sustenance.
Did your grandparents have a cedar chest? Most older generations did, and they used them religiously to store wool blankets, sweaters, and other cold weather gear. This is because moths cannot tolerate the smell of cedar and will avoid it at all costs.
If the high cost of a good cedar chest is off, there’s no need to fret. You can buy cedar balls and put them in your dresser drawer. Get yourself a bottle of high-quality cedarwood essential oil, and re-scent the balls once a month.
Although cedar is known for keeping clothes moths away, lavender has a good track record of doing the same. Obviously, this is something these moths and I have in common: We cannot stand the smell of lavender and will avoid it whenever possible.
Fill a little burlap or organza bag with lavender flowers to make the sachet. Then tuck these between your dresser drawers fairly liberally. Hang them in the closet, and tie them to shoes, too.
Just ask your partners and kids first before attacking your olfactory system with this stuff. Most men don’t want to smell like lavender all day, and many children find the scent too overpowering. If that’s the case, stick to cedar balls.
3. Additional Fragrances
If you live in a home where people can’t stand lavender or cedar (or are allergic to them), there are a few other options you can use. These essential oils have insect-repellent properties and can also help repel moths. You can spread their scent in closets, put wooden or cloth sachets with them, or make scent sprays.
The latter is a great option, as you can simply mix them with water and sprinkle a little in drawers and cupboards once a week.
- rosemary: Since most insects dislike this smell, moths will try to avoid areas where it is found. Make sachets of dried rosemary, or hang bunches in a cupboard.
- Kapoor: Will make you smell like you’ve been dragged into VaporRub or Tiger Balm, but it is remarkably effective at repelling any pest. Man too, just FYI.
- Lemon: This is a great option for those who can’t follow lavender. Moths dislike citrus aromas, and lemons in particular often send them packing. Plus, lemon-scented clothes smell divine.
- citronella: Another citrus scent that works well to ward off moths, as well as mosquitoes and flies.
- Cinnamon: This scent is quite potent, but effective in keeping away flying insects.
- MintMoths and rats both hate the smell of peppermint, so putting the essential oil in wood or sachets will keep both of them out of your closet. And you’ll smell like mint ice cream, so that’s a bonus.
How to deal with clothes mite infestation
Once you’ve finished rumbling around the house, screaming, it’s time to go to work. You’ll also need to destroy any moth eggs that may be waiting to hatch, as well as larvae that may already be lurking in clothing.
what you’ll need:
- plastic garbage bags
- rubber or latex gloves
- Bucket of warm, soapy water (lavender Castile soap works well)
- rags or sponges for scrubbing
- Caulking (and a caulking gun)
- palette knife or spatula
- wool-safe laundry detergent
- Plastic storage containers (expanded later)
Put on gloves, take absolutely everything out of the closet, dresser, etc., where you found the pest, and pack them all in garbage bags. Then take that hot, soapy water and wash every surface, nook and cranny.
Let the area dry completely, and then grab that caulking gun. Use caulk to seal cracks, crevices, and holes in and around the area. These are the nooks where moths like to hide when they are not laying eggs and eating your clothes.
Seal cracks under baseboards and gaps with crown molding, as they are known hiding places. Use a spatula or palette knife to scrape off any excess.
Once it’s done and dry, wash everything in those bags according to their care instructions. This will probably take some time, especially if you have delicates that need to be hand-washed. Similarly, some items can only be dry cleaned, such as heavy winter coats. Tell the laundromat staff that you have had moth damage, so they will be extra careful when handling your belongings.
After putting all the effort into cleaning and washing, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have to go through that kind of trauma again anytime soon. One of the best ways to ensure that these clothes moths won’t eat their way through your belongings is to store items as safely as possible.
For example, you know those zippered plastic bags that bedding sets come in? Save them, and use them for your fleece/blend fabrics and blankets. Be sure to wipe them down thoroughly before storing anything in them, just in case of moth eggs. Then dry clean (or safely do laundry) your items, fold them neatly, and zip them into these bags.
Similarly, you can get zippered plastic garment bags for woolen coats. Store your outerwear clothing items in these whenever you are not actively using them. Then close them so the moths don’t get in when you’re not looking. Place mittens, gloves, and socks in plastic bags or containers with those lavender or cedarwood sachets in between.
Keep craft supplies in airtight containers too!
In addition to keeping your wool clothing and bedding safe, be sure to keep your craft supplies safe as well. It’s heartbreaking to spend a ton of time and effort spinning, weaving and weaving items only to find months later with holes drilled through them. I once lost a lace shawl to a moth infestation after spending almost half a year knitting, so I feel the pain here.
Wool ropes used for spinning yarn are particularly susceptible to insect damage. Apart from this, sometimes moth eggs also come in it. If you can, wash the wool roving (including the duration of the vinegar soak) and allow it to dry thoroughly. Once it is completely dry, you can gently roll it up for safe storage. This should kill any moths—and eggs—that may be lurking inside.
Pack your supplies in a plastic zip bag, and keep them in a large seal-able container. Before locking the top, toss in some of those fragrant cedar balls for good measure.
Avoid using chemicals
These moths can be a nuisance, but they are not harmful to anything other than your clothing. Try to avoid using toxic insecticides such as sprays or mothballs to remove them. This is because these chemicals can be harmful to your family and animal companions.
In fact, mothballs can be fatal to cats and dogs as well as small animals. If you have small humans or animals in your home, please avoid them at all costs.
Along with keeping clothing clean, some diligence with essential oil-containing deterrents should keep moths out of your blankets and clothing.
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