Have you ever suffered from a moth infestation eating your woollen clothes? Well, help is at hand because there are lots of ways to combat this problem. In general, you won't even be aware of the presence of moths until it is too late. And the babies are the culprits as they eat their way through your sweaters, jackets and pants or wool rugs and needlework as they mature.
The parent moths do no damage except to leave behind their eggs
Mature insects deposit eggs in a variety of locations such as clothing, upholstery, rugs, carpets, toys, animal skins or trophies, and even natural-bristle brushes. As the eggs hatch, the larvae begin to feed on animal-based materials including silk, wool, feathers and leather. They also have been known to eat fabrics blended with wool and items soiled with food stains or body oils.
Eggs and larvae of moths and beetles can be carried into homes on articles containing wool or other animal fibers. Items such as second hand furniture, upholstered furniture and other home furnishings can provide the perfect home for these pests. Clothes moth eggs or larvae can also hide in woollen fabrics or rugs.
Adult clothes moths prefer darkness and quickly hide when they are disturbed. Clothes moths are not the moths seen flitting about lights. Quite the opposite. Adult clothes moths are about 1/2 inch long and light tan in color.
Firstly, actual prevention
1. You can invest in an expensive chest with a cedar lining to protect your sweaters and other woolen items. It is not the cedar lining that actually prevents the moth infestation but the fact that cedar chests are tight fitting and therefore air tight so that nothing can survive.
2. You can use natural repellents. Dried lavender, cloves and thyme all help to repel moths and smell lovely as well in your closet. Put the herbs in a small sachet and hang or store in the closet to keep bugs at bay .
3. Keep your closet clean and have any holes or cracks (where moths might hide) filled or sealed. Don't put away any clothes that need washing or dry cleaning as moths thrive by eating wool as well as any dirt that might be on an item such as a ring of dirt on the collar.
4. Moths can be on items that you have been given or perhaps bought from a used source. Place any such items in your freezer to ensure you get rid of any moths (method set out later in the article) or if appropriate, have them dry cleaned.
5. Moth balls are highly toxic and should only be used in and on items such as valuable antiques where nothing else is possible. Put in a sealed container with the moth balls for at least a month before removing and airing for another two months.
6. Take a tip from owners of vintage clothing shops and use pheromone moth traps which are made of thin cardboard with the interior coated with the scent of the female moth so that male moths enter, become trapped and never leave. These traps cost approximately $20 each and need to replaced every 3 months but are worth it to avoid the hassle and expense of moth infestation.
Secondly, actual infestation
7. Moth damage is not really visible until items are cleaned. So once you are aware of an infestation, you need to go into action. Be aware that those toxic chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning like perchloroethylene are bad for your body, your clothes and the environment. In fact most items that say "dry clean only" can be carefully hand-washed and air-dried, giving you a considerable cost saving. If you must dry-clean, go to a legitimate “green” cleaner that uses wet cleaning or carbon dioxide cleaning instead of harsh chemicals.
8. If you are lucky you may be successful by freezing all items in a very cold freezer for at least 3 weeks. Remember to use a freezer as a holding place for any items that you buy when travelling or flea market finds before having them cleaned. To be effective, store items at 0°F for a minimum of 48 to 72 hours. This method works best for small items such as stuffed animals, feather accessories or items difficult to launder or dry-clean. When freezing items, place them in polyethylene bags, squeeze out excess air, and seal tightly. After the prescribed amount of time in the freezer, remove the item to the refrigerator to thaw slowly. Items can be removed from the bag after coming to room temperature. Or store the items in the polyethylene bag. To guarantee a complete insect kill, it is recommended that you immediately repeat the process before removing contents from the bag.
9. If you have an infestation in your closet, everything must be removed and dealt with and the closet repaired to ensure there are no cracks or holes. You may need to get an exterminator who knows how to handle moths to come in monthly for at least three months. Once you think you are free of moths, buy those pheromone traps to catch any strays. If no moths appear in the traps, you will know you are moth free.
10. If you have a moth infestation, it is also important to clean bed linens, table linens, towels, pet beds, mattress covers, rugs, knitting or sewing baskets, soft toys and anything they might like to nest in. Just because they won't eat it doesn't mean they won't live on or hide in it.
If you have damaged woollen items they are usually difficult or impossible to repair. But they can be re-purposed into lovely crafts made from sweaters such as felting.
Be vigilant and practice good housekeeping habits so the insects do not have a chance to lay eggs.