Attack of the Closet Moths!

Attack of the Closet Moths!

So I’m in the middle of a major spring cleaning here at home. I try to refresh the home once a year, but this cleaning has been major. I got rid of about half my clothing, things I’ve been holding on to for years, thinking– “maybe someday I will be a size 2 again.” No, Tori, you won’t be. Frankly, I don’t even want to be a size 2 anymore. I’ve learned to love my curves. I’ve earned them! The good news is our friend’s daughter will fit into the size 2 stuff just fine. She is very happy that I’ve started “The Great Closet Purging of 2014.”

As I was going through all of my sweaters to pack them away for spring and summer, I was shocked to discover a moth infestation. Some of my prettiest sweaters – cashmere pieces that I’ve invested in hoping they’d last me a lifetime – were full of little holes. I began to research it online, and apparently those naughty moths have a taste for the finer fabrics in life. That means your nicest sweaters, scarves and wraps are their number one target. Awesome.

Attack of the Closet Moths!

I’ve separated the moth-eaten clothing from the rest of my closet. Now I’m wondering about the best way to deal with it. Have any of you had this problem in the past? I’ve made sure that no sweaters are moved to my friend’s house until they’re completely moth-free. I don’t want to share moths with her closet! There is a lot of conflicting advice online about how to handle this. I’m not sure how effective moth balls would be in this situation, and really, who wants that smell lingering on their clothing? A natural solution would be preferable to me. I’ve read that moths are repelled by the smell of cedar and lavender, which is intriguing.

Have any of you dealt with a moth infestation before? Any advice would be much appreciated!

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  1. I’ve always found cedar to be a great deterrent. You can go extreme and line your costs, but I just put a few blocks in with my wool garments. Scuff them a bit before each seasonal use.

  2. The contents of our home were in storage for 3 years and several of my items of clothing were eaten by something (may have been moths).
    Thread a needle with a couple of strands pulled from flesh-colored pantyhose and catch the stitches of the sweater, knotting each one on the underside (wrong side). No-one will ever know that the holes ever existed!

  3. like cedar too…however the holes are in existing sweaters…go to fabric store and buy an applique or beads. depending where the holes are decorate the sweater a bit.

  4. I’ve had moth damage to favorite woolens and even silks – it’s so upsetting! I hate the smell of mothballs, so I store bulky items in a cedar chest with some lavender packets. My grandmother’s best silk scarf gets sealed up in a plastic bag and stored in the freezer – still perfect and almost 100 years old.

  5. For now…..unless the holes are in places you can ‘patch’ with flowers or the like….. the trash can is about the only solution…..however for NEXT YEAR>…..Cedar works great…..or depending on where they are being stored they have Moth traps (I’ve used them while I had a parrot) that work great.

  6. They LOVE Cashmere!!! Yes, I had them last year and noticed them again this year…Have thrown out Hand woven Navaho carpet and my fav sweaters. I thinking I’m getting them from “bulk” pet food….I am trying blocks of Cedar…Other than moth balls (which stink up your clothes) I’m at a loss

  7. That happened to my cashmere sweaters! We put moth balls in the closet. So gross. The smell was awful and I was pregnant so I pretty much lived out of a dresser drawer for a month and avoided the closet.

  8. cedar chips work great to keep them out. If the holes are small, you can get matching thread and weave a patch into the fabric. Use cedar shavings that are marketed as pet bedding, fill knee-high hose, tie the end and you can drape over hangers or even tie across hangers to prevent moths – makes the closets smell wonderful!

  9. You can buy little bags of cedar shavings to throw into the dresser where you store your sweaters. I have them in a couple of drawers in my dresser and threw about 4 on the shelves in my closet… more moths.

  10. old socks just before fall filled with cedar chips. either tie them to a coat hanger and hang in closet or just buy a big huge block, leave it in package and just poke a bunch of holes in it and place in the bottom of your closet.

  11. Oh no!!! There is the rare dry cleaner who can reweave/reknit the holes, but it gets very expensive. The Vermont Country Store, which you can find online, sells lavender anti-moth packets that smell quite nice, unlike traditional mothballs. They also sell cedar blocks to mix into your drawers of woolens.

  12. Former dry cleaner here. It’s actually the larvae, not the adult moths that cause those annoying holes, which is why you don’t see moths flying around your clothes. It only takes one moth to have been in there to lay its eggs beginning the destruction. While mothballs, cedar chests, etc., all are fine suggestions, the best protection against moth damage is twofold. First, wherever you’re going to store your woolens and silks (all clothing actually, but those fabrics are the most common to be damaged) do a thorough cleaning of your closets, dressers or other storage areas. Vacuum your floors and carpets thoroughly, the bottoms and tops of shelves, and even ceilings. Be especially diligent with corners and where walls meet ceilings and floors. Secondly, don’t store clothes you’ve worn even if they don’t appear dirty. Wash (warm or hot will kill the larvae) the clothes you normally wash and dry clean the rest. This might create a high dry cleaning bill this time of year especially, but that will still be less than replacing or repairing multiple, usually expensive, items.

    1. Great advice Cliff Lubin. I definitely want to make sure they don’t come back. I’ve read about everything from freezing the clothes to putting them in the oven, if you can imagine! Dry cleaning looks like the best option. It’s going to be an expensive dry cleaning bill… eek! But better that than have to deal with all this again down the road.

  13. Make a sort of bouquet garni, using the following dried ingredients inside drawer sachets (made from porous material,like muslin or cheese cloth) to keep moths and their voracious larvae at bay : camphor basil,pennyroyal,sweet marjoram,rosemary,patchouli,scented geraniums,sweet woodruff,tansy,wormwood,southernwood,eucalyptus,pine needles,sassafras, and bay laurel. You can also placed essential oil dabbed cotton balls or draw liners with animal hair fiber garments before storing them, as well.

  14. Cedar chips have never helped me. Per the WSJ: Never store cashmere without dry cleaning because the worn scent attracts moths that munch on soiled cashmere like potato chips.

    So the answer might be to use cedar chips, but also to make sure that you dry clean all your cashmere before retiring it for the winter summer :\

  15. Never put a worn piece for too long in the closet, moths LOVE that but they dislike the smell/taste of drycleaning. Have all closets swiped with Vinegar and check every single piece. Sachets of lavender help or cedarwood, or special mothpapers (don’t know if they exist in the US) mothballs are not in use in Europe anymore.

  16. Having worked in a dry cleaners, I agree with those that have had the experience. In fact, that’s the first thing we would do when a customer would ask for advice on home care. Several things to add though, as there was also experience elsewhere… First, when cleaning storage areas – also make sure ALL openings (mouse holes, etc) are plugged. Cedar panels can be replaced, cracks caulked – this will help keep out more infestations. Scrub and vacume, or whatever special treatments are suggested by manufactureres and contractors. Check all ventelation ducts and temp control. Mold and mildew can be another annoying problem in some places. Clean ALL garments, and garment bags. Mending helps too, as you may not care to bother with this when you want your comfy sweater and blanket when the cold hits. lol If it says ‘dry clean only’, and you haven’t already washed it anyway, might do that. Things look really… weathered? And not quite new after being washed. Especiall woolens, which will felt. For

  17. For things that are already damaged, it was already suggested to mend or patch. But sometimes a re-make is cool for things you don’t want to lose. For that ‘do not mix fibers’ clause in Torah observance, sometimes you can snatch a few matching threads from the seams to darn the area if it’s not too bad. I haven’t used lavender, but the cedar shavings from pet stores and garden shops work pretty well. Socks, nylons, and those net fruit bags do alright. These can be tacked, tossed, and set on shelves as well as hung. Decorative cedar blocks are an option, and I’ve seen these on sale in craft stores and shops. I’ve cut cedar branches, and cut slices off of them for this, too. :) oh! And anything kept in storage (not actually used), make sure to check every time you clean the closet. Unless it’s sealed for archive anyway…

  18. I was told that they eat spots on clothes that have not been washed before putting them away. After throwing away many “investment ” pieces, I now dry clean everything and store them in a closet where I have put cedar shavings everywhere.

  19. I had this problem once and, after losing 6 cashmere sweaters (yes, I’m still heartbroken about that!!) I did extensive research. I had the remaining sweaters dry cleaned, wiped out the drawers very well and sprayed the drawer liners with lavender spray. I re-spray every season. I haven’t had a problem since. I’ve never had a problem with the wool things I hang, but I keep lavender and cedar bricks in my closet just in case.

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