If you discover holes in your favorite sweaters, you need to know how to get rid of moths and protect your clothes. These winged insects find their way into your closet or drawer where their larvae feed through wool, silk, cashmere, mohair, fur or other natural fabrics.
In addition to ruining clothing, moths can also leave behind insect casings and excrement, and reproduce as larvae. More importantly, moths can trigger allergic skin reactions when those sensitive to them come into contact with either adult moths or larvae. That is why it is so important to know how to get rid of moths once and for all.
So where do moths come from? Usually, moths can enter your home through an open window or door. They can also be worn indoors on infested clothing (thrift store or garage sale items) or even when grocery shopping. Even if you don’t spot moths during the day, these nocturnal insects are active at night to avoid being spotted by predators, which is probably why you don’t see them sneaking into your closets during the day.
Luckily, there are some preventive measures you can take to get rid of moths and save your clothes. From homemade cleaning products and essential oils to nifty storage solutions, here’s how to get rid of moths in your closet once and for all.
What types of moths are there?
First, identify what type of moth you have in your home. There are typically two types – clothes moths and storage moths. Clothes moths usually penetrate cupboards and wardrobes, with the caterpillars feeding on natural fibers such as linen, wool, silk or fur. Pantry moths, on the other hand, infest food and prefer grains and various dry goods such as rice, cereal, crackers, or other stored foods. These usually arrive with grocery store items. A few signs would be straps or tiny caterpillars in your food or its packaging.
How to get rid of moths (clothes).
Clothes moths are a common household pest that can eat holes in and damage natural fabrics. Therefore, it is important that you clean your clothes using the following methods.
1. Discard damaged items and wash your clothes
First, identify which clothing items are moth-infested and discard any damaged items. Wash the clothes in the washing machine and follow the instructions on the care label. For delicate fabrics like wool, fur or cashmere, dry cleaning is the most effective way to get rid of moth larvae. It’s important to wash your clothes thoroughly to get rid of any eggs the moths may have laid.
2. Vacuum and clean your closet and drawers
In general, dirt and dust can attract moths, which tend to hide in dark corners or crevices. Vacuum your closet or drawers with one of the best vacuum cleaner, and then clean them thoroughly. Wipe down surfaces with soapy water or a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. White vinegar is a natural disinfectant that instantly kills moth eggs and larvae.
Experience how to clean with vinegar without smellbut beware of these 7 things you should never clean with white vinegar to avoid further damage.
3. Store clothing in a cool and appropriate place
After you’ve washed or dry-cleaned your natural fiber clothing, store them in protective garment bags, boxes, or airtight containers. Garment bags like these Clear Garment Bags for Hanging Clothes ($17 (opens in new tab), Amazon (opens in new tab)) protects your sweaters, coats or other clothes from annoying moths and keeps them dust-free. Also make sure your closet is well ventilated as moths thrive in humid conditions.
4. Place cedar in cabinets and drawers
Moths don’t like strong scents, especially cedarwood and cedar oil, so it’s a good idea to keep these in the closet or drawers. You can hang wool clothes on cedar hangers, or buy cedar spherical pieces to attach to hangers.
5. Use lavender or herbs in cupboards and drawers
Likewise, you can put sachets of fragrant lavender in the closet or drawers to deter moths. If you don’t have lavender, you can also use bags of dried rosemary, thyme, cloves, or bay leaves, all of which are commonly found in kitchens.
While mothballs have traditionally been used, they are best avoided. These contain pesticides made from strong chemicals like naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, the research says (opens in new tab) Claims is harmful if inhaled.
How to get rid of moths (pantry)
Pantry moths can feast on grains, cereals, and other open, dry food sources. If you don’t want your food to spoil, the best way to remove it is by following the steps below.
1. Throw away infested food and clean your pantry well
If you spot wriggling caterpillars in your dried foods, throw them away immediately. Even if you haven’t spotted any creepy crawlies, you will often notice a musty smell or sticky discharge in your eating areas. Thoroughly clean surfaces with warm, soapy water or use a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar to naturally disinfect all areas.
2. Store food in airtight containers
Always store dried foods in airtight containers or jars to prevent moths from feeding on them. Choose glass or hard plastic containers for bulk groceries, or sealable storage bags for bulk groceries. Moths can get through cardboard and lightweight plastic materials, so discard these containers.
3. Reduce humidity and keep your pantry cool
Because moths thrive in humid environments, keep your kitchen at a cool temperature. Make sure your pantry is well ventilated and close any windows or doors when you have the air conditioning on. This will prevent moths from infesting your food.
4. Seal all entry points
Moths like to hide in cracks and crevices, so seal up all possible entry points. Using a silicone caulking gun, identify and seal any cracks in the back of the pantry, around windows and doors, or gaps between your cabinets and walls. This should physically prevent moths from entering your food storage areas and laying their eggs.
Of course, if you’ve tried all of the above and still have a moth infestation, it’s time to call in a pest controller. You can fumigate your house and get rid of the moths and their eggs forever.
Signs that you have moths in your closet or pantry
- holes in clothing
- Webbing in closet or closet corners
- Cocoons in the closet or in dark corners
- musty smell on clothes
- Larvae/eggs on clothing
- caterpillars or moths in food
- Webbing in/on food or packaging
- Musty smell in the pantry
- Sticky secretion in food areas
If you are dealing with other household pests, check out how to get rid of bed bugs, how to get rid of silverfish or how to get rid of mosquitoes.