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Moth time

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
It seems to be that time of the year again... I see the little bastards flitting around and have chased down and killed 3 or 4 of them, but I know I don't see every one. I'm going through and brushing out all my wool clothes and then I guess I will seal them up in my closet until I don't see moths anymore. Short of mothballs, I don't think there's much else I can do.

Or is there?

Seriously, I hate yellowjackets, but if I could choose one species to be rid of, it would be clothes moths. Every time I see one I get all paranoid and look around at the wool and cashmere and mohair and ...

Back to brushing.
post #2 of 14
one thing i hate other than moths, are those nasty silverfish.
those slinky grey powdery-when-crushed nasty thingies that run away from you when you expose a prolonged dark place.

i dont have a moth problem myself, but i do believe something as powerful smelling as cedar (cedar clotheshanger, cedar closet, cedar shoetrees, cedar chips) will repel moths. and perhaps silverfish.

i noticed that no moths or silverfish hang around my shoes. i dont know if it because the cedar trees repelling them , or just that moths and silverfish do not really snack on leather.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Same here - we have moths, silverfish and carpet beetles and they all like to eat clothes.

Here's an idea: do moths (etc.) need oxygen/air to live? What if I sealed off my closet and then evacuated all the air with nitrogen? Hm...
post #4 of 14
The most important thing to know about moths is that they eat clothes that are being stored. In 6+ years of selling clothes the only items I've ever had eaten by moths is a box of items I had sitting in the garage for the year. Everything else gets shifted around periodically so moths are not a problem. Go through your closet every month or so and shake everything out - you'll be ok.
post #5 of 14

If you had a copy of The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes on CD-Rom you could instantly access the section on Moths in the Clothes Care chapter, where you would find:


There's nothing worse than pulling your favorite wool sweater out of the closet to discover that it has been ravaged by hungry moths.

The large moths you see flying in large numbers around lights are not clothing moths at all. The larvae of those moths eat outdoor vegetation and not household fabrics.

Clothing moths are quite small, not more than one-half inch long, and when disturbed will run or fly to conceal themselves. They prefer dark, hidden places like the creases and folds in clothes hanging in rarely disturbed closets.

The moth goes through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adult moths live two to four weeks. In heated houses the females may lay eggs at any time of the year. Each female moth can lay up to 100 eggs, which hatch in about ten days, producing hungry little grubs who can hang around for months dining on your fine wool.

The feeding larva causes the clothing damage. The adult moths do not even have the mouthparts necessary to chew on clothes.

Larvae are able to digest only animal fibers, and will munch on anything containing wool, furs, or feathers. Silk, cotton, rayon, and synthetics can still be damaged by the larvae as they cut through the fibers to get to the dirt and stains on the fabric or to gain access to nearby dirty wool.

Moth control:

The best way to avoid problems with clothes moths is through prevention.


Woolens and other susceptible fabrics should be dry cleaned or laundered before being stored for long periods. Never store dirty clothes. Dry cleaning or hand washing kills any eggs or larvae that may be present and also removes perspiration odors and stains that are attractive to the pests. If shrinkage is not a problem, running clothes through the heat of the dryer kills moths too.

Periodically shake, brush, and expose clothes to sunlight.

If you don't wear your clothes at regular intervals, just shake them out and expose them to the sun. The handling involved in wearing a sweater, for example, is enough to knock off the fragile larvae and cocoons.

Vacuum often. Clean closets and behind baseboards and cracks in floors.


Storing clothes in airtight containers such as cedar chests or in bags that have been sealed with tape is effective at keeping moth larvae out. However, if clothes were packed with even one egg, larva, or moth hidden under a collar or cuff, the moth larvae will eventually have a feast. This is why it is so important to clean your clothes before you store them.

Articles to be stored can be packed in tight-fitting containers with mothballs or flakes containing Paradichlorobenzene (PDB) or Napthalene. Neither PDB or Napthalene will repel clothes moths or prevent them from laying eggs -- the vapors from these materials are lethal to clothes moths, but only when maintained at sufficient concentrations. In order to achieve these levels, the vapors must be tightly confined with the items you wish to protect. Naphthalene is not very soluble in water, so it is difficult to remove by washing. It would probably be wise to dry-clean any articles that have been stored with mothballs before using them.

Cedar history: In the third millennium B.C., the Indus civilization (located in modern Pakistan) used cedar to create lavish temples and royal palaces. Alexander the Great built great naval fleets from this long-lasting wood. In America, Indian tribes used red cedar to build totem poles, believing it held spiritual powers. In the 18th century, European furniture makers began using American aromatic cedar in travel trunks and bridal hope chests to protect keepsakes and fine woolens.

Home Remedies:

For a moth trap, mix 1 part molasses with 2 parts vinegar and place in a yellow container to attract moths. Clean regularly.

You can also try some herbal sachets: natural items such as cloves, lavender, rosemary, thyme, dried orange peel, peppercorns, cayenne pepper, eucalyptus leaves, hellebore, etc. To avoid staining, always wrap any of these items in a sachet or, simply tie up in a handkerchief.

Many of these herbs loose their scent quickly and may not repel clothing moths in the first place. This is not to say that clothes should not be stored with herbal sachets. They do add a nice scent. Just don't count on them alone to repel moths.


You can get your copy of The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes here:

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks Andy. I actually read that piece in a very old thread here, but it's always good info to re-read. I notice that you didn't mention camphor or pheromone traps. Has anyone used these to any success? Since I don't know how many garments might have moths (if any), I can't afford to clean all of them. So I am looking more at the shake everything out and try to prevent future moths strategy. I read camphor works to repel them and doesn't smell quite as bad as naphthalene moth balls.

Also you could add camphor wood to your "history" section - apparently ships used to be built using it and antique "captain's chests" of aromatic camphor wood are still around - the vapors from the tree worked like aromatic cedar does. (For how long, who knows.)

Thanks to Andrew too - I have had a couple of garments eaten but IIRC they both had been stored for a while. It just makes me paranoid because if all the sweaters are together in a drawer and I didn't know one needed a serious cleaning, the moths could have a field day. It's enough to make you want to put each garment in a separate bag to contain damage.
post #7 of 14
I've found that the best way to keep moths away is to rearrange your closet regularly. Store things away, and moths are likely to make an appearance, regardless of any precautions taken Be disorganized like me, and move things around all year and keep the closet well aired (i.e. - pretty much open all the time) and the moths are kept well at bay.
post #8 of 14
Crap, this got me paranoid. I just went and put all my suits in garment bags.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by odoreater
Crap, this got me paranoid. I just went and put all my suits in garment bags.
It's actually been therapeutic for me to do this - I just went through and tried a bunch of stuff on that was sort of iffy and marked everything with any changes that needed to be made, etc. I ended up with some extra space and a pretty big sell pile.
post #10 of 14
We send as much as possible to the cleaners at the end of the winter, tnen pack the clean clothes away in storgae boxes and hanging bags with cedar blocks. Extra cleaning is a drag, but it beats the hell out of moth holes. Whatever doesn't go to the cleaners gets brushed and thoroughly aired, plus moved around periodically. We also use the moth traps in the closet to have some idea of who's living in there.
post #11 of 14
It's around that time of year again. Just saw a few and I'm super paraniod as I've acquired much more cashmere over the past year... Anyone have some more updated tips on protecting your clothes from being eaten?
post #12 of 14
j, i'm gonna mail you some camphor cubes from the Ranch Market. seriously.
post #13 of 14
Insect bombs well for me. Just open the closet doors before bombing. I also keep a lot of my sweaters in Container Store sweater boxes.
post #14 of 14
I made a bunch of muslin garment bags several years ago. Everything can breathe in them. They sell similar bags at the Container Store.
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