How to Get Rid of Moths

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What You Need to Know

  1. Moths can cause damage to wool and silk clothing as well as carpets, upholstery and blankets.
  2. The moths themselves are not the problem, rather it is their larvae who eat the fabric when they hatch.
  3. Never put clothes away dirty. This will reduce the chances of moths being attracted to your clothes.
  4. If you’re placing your clothes in storage, put them in a plastic storage bag.
  5. Moths hate light and being disturbed. Shaking at your clothes once a month or them out in the sun should deter them.
  6. A hot wash will kill moths. If you cannot wash the item, place it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer. This will also do the job.
  7. Mothballs will only work as a deterrent in an air tight environment.
  8. You can Buy Moth Control Products online.

All About Moths

The webbing clothes moth, Tineola bisselliella, is small and unobtrusive, but it can cause extensive damage to your favourite wool and silk clothing, carpets, upholstery and blankets.

You may see the moths, which are about half and inch long and a silvery brown colour, fluttering around at dusk, but they are not the cause of the damage. Moths lay their eggs on clothing and when the larvae hatch, they feed on any available material, regardless of whether this is the finest silk or cashmere or simply an old pair of sweatpants.

You may see the moths, which are about half and inch long and a silvery brown colour, fluttering around at dusk, but they are not the cause of the damage. Moths lay their eggs on clothing and when the larvae hatch, they feed on available material.

Preventing Moths

There are a variety of ways to control clothes moths, the most effective being to prevent their arrival in the first place. Check second-hand soft furnishings and clothes for tell-tale silvery-looking threads about an inch long. These are the larvae cases that show that moths are present.

Moths are endemic to some areas and may well already be present in your home in carpets and in the dust under the floorboards. The answer here is preventing their spread.

Never put clothes away dirty. Sweat, hair oil and food stains attract moths and make it much more likely that your clothes will be attacked. If you're storing clothes for a season, clean them and put them away in plastic storage bags.

Getting Rid of Moths

Moths hate light and being disturbed. Their life cycle is about 21 days, so every month open your drawers and shake clothing. Alternatively, hang your rugs or clothing outdoors for a day in the sun. Larvae are strongly repelled by light, and will fall from clothing when they cannot find protection.

Dry cleaning or thoroughly washing items in hot water at temperatures above 120°F (48°C) for 20 to 30 minutes kills all stages of the insects. This is the most common and effective method for controlling moths in clothing, blankets, and other washable articles.

Freezing also kills moths. For items that cannot be hot washed, wrap in plastic and place in the freezer for a day.

Mothballs

Mothballs containing the chemicals naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene are only a partial solution. The balls produce vapours that, in sufficient concentration, will slowly kill insects. The vapours build up to the required concentration only in an airtight container. If the container is not airtight, the chemicals only weakly repel adults and any larvae already on clothes continue to feed. In addition, the balls give off a distinctive and unpleasant smell that can be very difficult to remove even after cleaning. They are poisonous and must be kept away from children and pets.

Many people think cedar chests or cedar balls that hang in closets help prevent moth damage. Cedar wood does contain an oil that can kill small larvae, but it does not affect larger larvae. After several years, in any case, the cedar loses this quality. Having the chest tightly constructed is more important in the long run than the type of wood used to make it.

To prevent and reduce moth infestations, regularly cleaning is essential. Thorough vacuuming under beds and along baseboards, in wardrobes and behind heaters will help. Empty the bag straight away, as it may harbour eggs, larvae, or adult moths.

Further Reading

 
8 comments
emily emily
31/01/2014

Scientists in antarctica found that moth eggs survived in the deep freeze there! I've done many hrs of research on moths and know that a home freezer will only kill larvae.however, what does work is to freeze wool, gets rid of latter, then wet article and microwave it. The heat cooks the eggs. British wool weavers swear by the method

 
Clementine Clementine
08/01/2013

What kills the moths more effectively is a sudden change of temperature.
put your wool item in the freezer for a week, then let it come to room temp for few days, the freeze it again for a week. This is very effective.

 
Anonymous Anonymous
04/08/2012

In reference to Len's comment, cells from most living things will burst when frozen due to water crystallization. The crystals cause the cells to shears, and thus die.

However, some organisms have adapted mechanisms to allow them to be frozen (ie: some frogs--> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fjr3A_kfspM)

According to the University of California though, larvae need to be frozen for several days below 18 degrees Fahrenheit (which is equivalent to -8 degrees Celsius). (So sounds like Anna is likely wrong)

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7435.html

Anonymous, M.Sc.

 
derek derek
11/07/2012

well i have been using a chemical cocktail for ten days so far on my stair carpet, perhaps i will let you know what the outcome of my efforts is in a couple of weeks

 
Peckle Peckle
05/07/2012

I have just exposed semi threadbare patches in a carpet at points under furniture feet against skirting boards with adjacent tufts of carpet material present, and so read your comments with interest.
Could this be the work of a carpet moth ? If not ,what then? And what would be the most effective action ?

Thanks.

Peckle.

 
Len Len
03/07/2012

How does "anna" know that moth larvae can survive being frozen? Is she a biologist? What authority or scientific papers can she cite to this effect? None, of the above, I'm sure. I would rather take the word of the author(s) of this well written piece than someone who can't be bothered to capitalize their name.

 
Gerard van Dyck Gerard van Dyck
11/02/2012

How long is the time from the moment of laying eggs
till the hatching and starting to feed from their surrounding? The woolmoth.

 
anna anna
10/02/2012

Moths can survive up to -18 degrees Celcius so putting clothes in a regular freezer will not do the trick!

 

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