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How to get rid of moths

Moths can damage your clothes, especially wool and silk garments, but we've got useful tips on how to get rid of clothes moths in your house!

Updated

clothing rail with selection of clothing

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. So 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. This comprehensive guide will give some safer, simpler ways to rid your house of moths.

How to get rid of moths: 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.

To get rid of moths in your home – particularly clothes moths – you can take preventive measures by washing your clothes with a good quality detergent and making sure never to store dirty clothes or jumpers.

You will need:

  • Plastic bags
  • Washing machine
  • Freezer
  • Laundry detergent

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How to get 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 laundry detergent.

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?

  1. Put clothes into plastic bags

    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 plastic bags.

  2. Place in the freezer for two hours

    Put the plastic bags of clothes into the freezer and leave for two hours.

  3. Remove and wash in a washing machine

    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. 

Has your cleaning regime changed during the Covid-19 lockdown?

How to get rid of clothes moths

If you're unsure of how to get rid of clothes 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.

Originally published