How to Control Moths

The common clothes moth

Common clothes moths are golden in colour and look like tiny darts. Case-bearing clothes moths are a similar size and shape but grey-brown with bands or spots on the wings. Other kinds of moth will not eat your clothes. It’s not the actual moth that causes the damage but their larvae that feed on your fabrics when they hatch. The egg cases of the common clothes moth are those little cobwebby patches that look like spit. Moth larvae love to eat proteins so they’re highly attracted to wool, silk, fur and feathers. Food and sweat stains also ring their dinner bell.

The best way to control moths is to prevent them getting a foothold.

We always wash or dry-clean our clothes before putting them away for the summer. Store them in their dry-cleaning wrappers. Mothballs do discourage moths if the fumes are in high concentration, this means storing garments in a box with a well-fitting lid. However the mothballs make your clothes smell awful. The smell of cedar wood has moth-repelling properties but again, it needs to be in high concentration. You can buy cedar balls or break up old cigar boxes, which are made of cedar.

If sweaters contain unhatched moth eggs fold them into ziplock bags and then shove them into the freezer overnight to kill the eggs. Make sure you remember to remove the sweaters in the morning otherwise they might end up in the oven with the Sunday roast!

Vigilance and cleaning are the keys to moth control.

  • Never bring second-hand clothes into your wardrobe without cleaning them first.
  • Vintage woollens and furs should be frozen overnight (at the minimum) to kill the moth larvae.
  • Never put clothes away with sweat or food stains on them.
  • Moths are happiest in dark, undisturbed corners. Rotate clothes for summer and winter and don’t leave old hats, scarves or blankets undisturbed for a long time.
  • Vacuum clean the edges of carpets and under the furniture, likewise down the back of the sofa.

In an utter crisis Trinny has used a lethal moth spray. It’s probably more toxic than a nuclear power station but it does kill the moths. Spray it inside the cupboard and then close the doors for a few hours. Always make sure clothes are thoroughly aired before wearing them. Never spray bedding with insecticide.

How have you tackled moths?

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