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How to get rid of clothes moths

Information, facts and resources to help you deal with an infestation of clothes moths and, if the worst happens, how to destroy the clothes moths and prevent this household pests return.

Clothes Moths

What does a clothes moth look like?

clothes moth

Clothes Moth

Clothes Moth Description

  • Clothes Moths are small greyish, brown moths with silvery wings. The caterpillars of clothes moths (which do all the damage to clothes) are a lightish, creamy white colour and have a darker brownish head.

Where do clothes moths live?

  • Clothes Moths are found in clothes in drawers, cupboard and suitcases.

  • Clothes Moths can often be found in the corners of drawers and cupboards with wings folded.

  • Clothes Moths are not attracted to light, so the moths you see fluttering around a lamp at night are not clothes moths.

What are the signs of a clothes moth infestation?

  • The Clothes Moths themselves may be seen resting in corners and crevices with wings folded.

  • Evidence of Clothes Moths damage to clothes may be seen.

What do clothes moths eat?

  • Clothes moth caterpillars will eat and chew holes in wool, fur, feathers, leather, felt, silk, cotton and also synthetic materials like nylon. The flight stage of the clothes moth, the actual moth itself does not eat or damage clothes.

Why must clothes moths be controlled?

  • Clothes Moths are pests in garments and fabrics made of natural fibers and can cause extensive damage.
  • Larvae of clothes moths and larvae and the adults of carpet beetles cause damage to clothes, curtains, carpets and other textiles and fabrics in the home. Fur, feather, felt and silk are susceptible which can mena high value items, including antique and rare rugs are in danger from damage by clothes moths.

How can I get rid of clothes moths?

  • Clean and vacuum clothes and cupboards and drawers at regular intervals to remove and deter clothes moths.
  • Dispose of the vaccuum bag after cleaning an infestation of clothes moths.
  • Dry cleaning clothes may be more effective in eradicating clothes moth larvae and eggs.
  • Store valuable organic items such as expensive clothes and silk, fur and leather items in airtight bags and containers wherever possible - this is an effective deterrent to allmost all household pests, not just clothes moths.
  • Moth balls (napthalene or paradi-chlorobenzene) flakes or crystals in closets or containers will help protect woolens and other fabrics.

How can I prevent clothes moths from returning?

  • Clean and vacuum clothes and cupboards and drawers at regular intervals to remove and deter clothes moths.
  • Dry clean furs, silk, leather, blankets, rugs, curtains and fabrics of natural origin.
  • Destroy badly infested materials.
  • Keep valuable furs in cold storage during the summer.
  • Store clothes and natural fabrics in airtight bags or containers - this will prevent any access to the materials by clothes moths caterpillars.
  • Use Moth balls or lavendar in cupboards, cabinets and drawers as a deterrent.

Clothes Moth Poisons and Clothes Moth Pesticides

  • Moth balls (napthalene or paradi-chlorobenzene) flakes or crystals in closets or containers will help protect woolens and other fabrics.
  • Light infestations of clothes moths in rugs and furniture fabrics often can be controlled by dusting infested areas with 4% to 5% malathion dust. Work dust into the nap.
  • Pesticides and Moth Balls are available from garden centres and hardware stores for the control of clothes moths. Read and follow the instructions on the product label precisely. Use only products that state on the label that it may be used to control clothes moths.
  • Remember, pesticides can be poisonous to children and pets. After use store container and contents away from children, or dispose of empty container safely.

The "Green Option" - Environmentally friendly control of Clothes Moths

  • Regular vacuuming.
  • Clothes may be placed in a freezer inside a plastic bag to kill the eggs and larvae - leave for 72 hours.
  • Air clothes well in the sun.
  • Store clothes in airtight containers, or airtight plastic bags.
  • Scatter sachets of lavender, cedar chips, or dried tobacco in with clothing as a deterrent to the clothes moths.
  • Lavender disguises human scents and smells which attract clothes moths - leave dried lavender and lavender sachets scattered around your clothes or sprinkle your clothes with lavender oil to deter clothes moths. The effect of lavender will last up to six months.
  • Dried lavender leaves can be mixed with equal amounts of tansy leaves. Chop finely and put in a bag, old sock or cloth square and place amongst clothes to deter clothes moths.
  • Pyrethrum flowers may also be effective against clothes moths.
  • Dried cloves can be used against clothes moths.
  • Sprinkle lavender oil in your final rinse when washing your cloths to deter clothes moth.
  • Another simple and environmentally friendly way of destroying household pests that infest food stores or clothes and fabrics is to utilize the household freezer. Clothes and food can be sealed inside plastic bags and place in the freezer for a minimum of 72 hours (3 days). The below zero temperature of the freezer kills all stages of the household pests withoud harming the food or the clothes.

Clothes Moths : Household Pests

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