Clothes moths, or Tineola Bisselliella, are a fairly new problem for homeowners. While they’ve always been around, we’re starting to see them breed in greater numbers, which is causing more noticeable (and costly) damage throughout the home. In the past, clothes moths would die out in winter, returning in small numbers during the summer, but now that we’re maintaining that warm, summer atmosphere across the year thanks to central heating, the moths can breed all year round, and they can start to become a nuisance.
Have you found yourself wondering how to get rid of clothes moths? Unlike other species of moth, they’re not attracted to light, and instead prefer dark corners which can make them very difficult to spot. In most cases, you’ll only know you’ve got an infestation once you start to see patches of carpet being eaten bare, and holes appearing in wool and silk garments. You could, of course, choose to fumigate, but not only is this expensive, it can also be very inconvenient and the lingering chemicals could pose a risk, especially to young children. Instead, this comprehensive guide will give some safer, simpler ways to rid your house of moths.
Three Things to Help Get Rid of Moths
1) Skip the Mothballs
Traditionally, mothballs are what’s used to get rid of moths. You can buy these from any DIY store, and they work by emitting chemicals that naturally repel moths. However, there are problems with these products. First, let’s not mince our words here – they stink. Mothballs have a smell that’s worse than steamed cauliflower. The smell will be absorbed into all your fabrics, leaving your clothing, and your home, smelling absolutely foul. Second, they might not be strong enough to kill the bigger moths. Some homeowners prefer to use cedar balls – a more natural, safer alternative – but moths can become immune to the effects of the smell, so you may find this is only a short-term solution.
2) Getting Rid of Moth Larvae Through Washing
One of the best methods of removing larvae is to wash your clothes at high temperatures – at least 48 degrees celsius is needed to kill the moths. Washing is also important because moths are attracted to the sweat that accumulates in the sleeves of the clothes, so to remove this entirely, it is necessary to wash any dirty clothes with a laundry detergent. Be sure to choose an appropriate laundry detergent for the type of fabric, like one from the range Persil offer, and to read the instructions on the product’s label. Of course, there’s a big problem with this – the types of material moths are typically attracted to, such as wools and silks, should not be washed above 30 degrees to prevent damage and shrinkage. So what’s the solution?
When looking at how to get rid of moths, some homeowners have found that freezing clothes is just as effective as boiling them. Simply pop your clothes into bags and place in the freezer for two hours. Remove and wash as normal using warm, not hot, water and following the directions on the care label. This method will kill any larvae attached to your clothing, and it should reduce the extent to which moths are attracted to your clothes, but it won’t solve your problem entirely. There may still be moths hiding in your wardrobe that can breed to produce new larvae, and you’ll be back to where you started. Ridding your home of moths is about tackling the problem directly, and then keeping up with regular maintenance to reduce the likelihood of them becoming a nuisance once more.
3) Make Some Changes to Prevent Moths
You may wish to make some small changes in your home to reduce the risk of moths coming back. Here are some easy ways to help protect your clothing a little better:
- Don’t leave dirty clothes lying around for too long – keeping on top of your laundry is one of the best methods of stopping moths becoming a problem.
- Consider removing some jumpers from your wardrobe, folding them, and storing them on open shelving. Moths prefer dark spaces, rather than being out in the open.
- Have a clear out of your wardrobe – more space between clothing means there’s less of a chance that moths can eat through multiple garments at once.
- Vacuum every corner of your wardrobe. Many people never think to vacuum inside their cupboards, but this is where the moths will be hiding.
- If you’ve got some old wool lying around, hang that among your other clothing – moths will almost always go for wool above all others.
- Read the care labels on the affected items. If the clothes can be washed at higher temperatures, place them in the washing machine and set the temperature to at least 48 degrees celsius. For more delicate items that cannot handle high temperatures, place them in bags and leave in the freezer for two hours. Remove and wash as normal. Extremes of high or low temperatures will help to eradicate moth larvae.
- Once your items are clean and moth-free, you’ll want to make sure the moths don’t return. Vacuum your wardrobe on a regular basis and make sure your clothes are not packed into the closet too tightly. You could also consider alternative storage methods for items like wool jumpers (which are prime targets for moths), such as folding them on open shelves. Check out section three of this article for more tips on preventing moths.