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Mothball Question

Get Smart

Don't Crink
Oct 27, 2004
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Someone told me that if you use the same mothballs/mothcake that bugs develop a tolerance for it so you should rotate the mothcake scent...is there any truth to this or is it hogwash?

Are mothcakes the best thing to use to protect wool suits? I've never had a bug-eating-suit problem but it's one of those things that every so often springs in my mind and I obsess over it, irrationally fearing to open a closet full of swiss cheese'ed suits.


Senior Member
Mar 5, 2003
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Get Smart:

Here's a condensed version of what I have in my book, The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes:

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.


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