Thrift store

How to get rid of moths and protect your clothes

If you spot holes in your favorite sweaters, you’ll need to know how to get rid of moths and protect your clothes. These winged insects will find their way into your closet or drawers, where their larvae will gnaw on wool, silk, cashmere, mohair, fur or any other natural fabric.

Not only can moths damage clothing, but they also leave behind insect guts, droppings and reproduce as larvae. More importantly, mites can trigger allergic skin reactions when people who are sensitive to them come into contact with adult or larval mites. That’s why it’s so important to know how to get rid of moths once and for all.

So where do butterflies come from? Typically, moths can enter your home through an open window or door. They can also be carried indoors on infested clothing (thrift store or yard sale items) or even on grocery shopping. Even if you don’t see any moths during the day, these nocturnal insects are active at night to avoid detection by predators, which is probably why you don’t see them sneaking into your closets during the night. daytime.

Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take to get rid of moths and save your clothes. From homemade cleaning products to essential oils to clever storage solutions, here’s how to get rid of moths in your closet for good.

What types of butterflies are there?

First, identify the type of moth you have in your home. Generally, there are two types: clothes moths and pantry moths. Clothes moths are usually found in closets and cabinets, with the caterpillars living on natural fibers like linen, wool, silk or fur. Pantry moths, on the other hand, infest food, preferring grains and various dry goods such as rice, cereal, crackers or other stored foods. These usually arrive with items from the grocery store. A few signs would be webbing or tiny caterpillars inside your food or its packaging.

How to get rid of moths (clothes)

Clothes moths are common household pests that can eat away at natural fabrics and damage them. It is therefore important to clean your clothes using the following methods.

1. Throw out damaged items and wash your clothes

Complete washing machine

Complete washing machine (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Start by identifying clothes that have been infested with moths and discarding any damaged items. Wash the clothes in the washing machine following the instructions on the care label. For delicate items like wool, fur, or cashmere, dry cleaning is most effective at getting rid of moth larvae. It is important to wash your clothes well to get rid of any eggs that the moths may have laid.

2. Vacuum and clean your closet and drawers

Clean a white closet

Clean a white closet (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Generally dirt and dust can attract moths which tend to hide in dark corners or cracks. Vacuum the inside of your closet or drawers with one of the best vacuum cleaners, then clean them thoroughly. Wipe 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.

To find how to clean with odorless vinegarbut beware of these 7 things you should never clean with white vinegar to avoid further damage.

3. Store clothes properly in a cool environment

Pouf in the bedroom

Pouf in the bedroom (Image credit: Amazon)

Once you’ve washed or dry-cleaned your natural fiber clothing, store it in protective garment bags, boxes or airtight containers. Garment bags such as these clear garment bags for hanging clothes ($17 (opens in a new tab), Amazon (opens in a new tab)) will protect your sweaters, coats or any other clothing from pesky moths, while keeping them dust free. Also, make sure your closet is well ventilated, as moths tend to thrive in damp conditions.

4. Place cedar wood in cupboards and drawers

Cedar wood rings on hangers

Cedar wood rings on hangers (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Moths don’t like strong smells, especially cedar wood and cedar oil, so it’s a good idea to place them in the closet or drawers. You can hang woolen clothes on cedar hangers or buy ball-shaped pieces of cedar to hang on hangers.

5. Use lavender or herbs in closets and drawers

Lavender next to a pile of sweaters

Lavender next to a pile of sweaters (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly, you can place scented lavender sachets inside the cupboard or drawers to deter moths. If you don’t have lavender, you can also use sachets made with dried rosemary, thyme, cloves, or bay leaves, which are commonly found in kitchens.

Although mothballs have traditionally been used, they are best avoided. These contain pesticides made from strong chemicals such as naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which research (opens in a new tab) is harmful if inhaled.

How to get rid of moths (pantry)

Pantry moths can feast on grains, cereals, and any other dry, open food source. If you don’t want your food to spoil, it’s best to get rid of it by following the steps below.

1. Throw out infested food and clean your pantry thoroughly

Pantry moth in food

Pantry moth in food (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’ve spotted wiggly caterpillars in your dried food, throw them out immediately. Even if you haven’t spotted any critters, you’ll often notice a musty smell or sticky secretion in your food areas. Clean surfaces thoroughly 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

Dry food in glass jars

Dry food in glass jars (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Always store dried foods in airtight containers or jars to prevent moths from feeding on them. Choose glass or hard plastic containers for bulk foods or resealable storage bags for bulk foods. Moths can eat through cardboard and lightweight plastics, so discard those containers.

3. Reduce humidity and keep your pantry cool

white kitchen

white kitchen (Image credit: Whirlpool)

Since moths thrive in humid environments, keep your kitchen at a cool temperature. Make sure your pantry is well ventilated and close all windows or doors if you have the air conditioner running. This will prevent moths from infesting your food.

4. Seal all entry points

Caulking gun sealing window base

Caulking gun sealing window base (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Butterflies love to hide in cracks and crevices, so be sure to seal off any potential entry points. Using a silicone caulking gun, identify and seal any cracks in the back of the pantry, around windows and doors, or spaces 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 control professional. They will be able to disinfect your home and permanently eliminate moths and their eggs.

Signs you have moths in your closet or pantry

Clothes moth on white wool

Clothes moth on white wool (Image credit: Shutterstock)
  • Holes in clothes
  • Straps in corners of closets or cabinets
  • Cocoons in closets or dark corners
  • Musty smells on clothes
  • Larvae/eggs on clothing
  • Caterpillars or moths in food
  • Strap in/on food or packaging
  • Musty smell in pantry
  • Sticky secretion in food areas

If you’re dealing with other household pests, find out how to get rid of bedbugs, how to get rid of silverfish, or how to get rid of gnats.