Unilever logo
Cleanipedia ZA logo
Stay informed! Visit the SA Department of Health's website for COVID-19 updates: www.sacoronavirus.co.za.

How to get rid of moths in the house

Moths can really damage your clothes and your furniture but we’ve got some great advice for getting rid of moths that might be breeding in your home.


Open window with flowing curtain

Clothes moths, also known as Tineola Bisselliella, can be found in a number of homes across South Africa and are starting to become a lot more common. The moth population is generally larger during summer when the weather is warmer, putting your wool and silk clothing at risk and costing you money.

If you’re looking for ways to get rid of moths, we have some advice for you. While the majority of moths in South Africa can be seen fluttering around the lights outside, clothes moths prefer dark corners, which can make it difficult to spot them. Most people only realise they have a moth problem when they notice holes in their clothing and carpets. Fumigation is an option but it’s usually quite expensive, plus the chemicals used can be harmful to your family. We look at some safer ways that you can get rid of moths in your home.

Buying a good quality detergent will ensure that your clothes always smell fresh and have a better chance of deterring moths.

You will need:

  • Washing machine
  • Freezer
  • Vacuum
  • Washing detergent
  • Plastic bag

How to get rid of moths

  1. Don’t use mothballs

    If you’re wondering how to get rid of clothes moths, one thing that you shouldn’t do is reach for mothballs. While this is the route that most people take, the reality is that mothballs smell terrible because of the chemicals they emit, leaving your clothes and home smelling awful.

    Mothballs are also not always strong enough to kill the bigger moths lurking in your cupboards, which is why it’s recommended that you use cedar balls instead. They’re a much safer alternative but they may also only work for a short period of time as moths can become immune to the effects.

  2. Remove moth larvae by washing

    Washing your clothes at a temperature of at least 48 degrees Celsius is one of the best ways to get rid of any moth larvae. Washing also helps remove the sweaty smell that moths are attracted to on your clothing. Choose a washing detergent that’s right for the clothing you want to wash, OMO being a good option, and be sure to read any care labels to ensure the best results.

    There is a small catch though; moths are generally attracted to wool and silk, fabrics that shouldn’t be washed at high temperatures. So, what can you do to prevent damage and shrinkage?

    Another approach that you can take to get rid of moths is to freeze your clothing instead of washing them at high temperatures. Place your silk or wool items in a bag and freeze for two hours. You can then wash the clothes in warm water as normal, while still following any specific care instructions.

    This method should kill any moth larva that might have been attached to your clothing and make your clothing less appealing to moths too. There is, however, still the issue of the moths that might be breeding in your cupboard. If you don’t address the root of the problem, you’ll be back to square one in no time at all. Regular maintenance is necessary if you want to keep clothes moths away for good.

  3. A few changes can keep moths away

    In order to reduce the chances of moths coming back, here are a few changes that you can make in your home that will help protect your clothing from going forward:

    - Make time to wash your clothing on a regular basis instead of leaving it lying around, which increases the likelihood of moths returning.

    - Since moths prefer darker spaces, move any jerseys to an open shelf instead of folding them up in the back of a cupboard.

    - Clean out your cupboards to create more space between your clothing, which will reduce the chances of moths getting to multiple garments at once.

    - Use a vacuum to clean out your cupboards. People don’t generally think about doing this but it will really make a difference.

    - Hanging some old wool in-between your other clothing will help keep your other garments safe as moths will always go for wool first.

The Poll

What’s most important to you when it comes to cleaning?

0 Votes

Pay attention to the labels on your clothes

If you are able to wash certain garments at higher temperatures, wash them at 48 degrees Celsius to remove larvae. For the items that can’t be washed at high temperatures, place them in a bag in the freezer for two hours. You can then wash the clothing at the right temperature to remove any larvae.

Take preventative measures

Once you’ve cleaned your clothing, you want to make sure that you don’t have the same problem again which is why it helps to vacuum your cupboards and repack your clothes so that they have some space between them. Packing your wool items in a more open area is another great prevention method.

Originally published