Tips and products to stop the moths!

Tips and products that will keep the moths out of your luxe cashmere and woollens until next winter.

This year when I dug my cashmere out of its hibernation I was horrified to find a rash of moth holes. I had, I thought, sealed them from possible moth attack…the little buggers got in anyway.

I invest in a couple of new cashmere jumpers a year, this year the budget went – mostly – on invisible mending. So this winter I’m going the big guns and DOING everything that is advised for keeping the shits out of my woollens.

Here are the best tips to keep those moths at bay

Before you pack up winter clothing for storage, wash or dry-clean garments that have been worn. This rids them of moth and beetle eggs and also eliminates perspiration remnants and food spills, which attract and nourish pests. Moths and beetles don’t eat items made of synthetic or cotton fabrics, but you should clean those, too, if you store them with woollens.

I’m using the Ms Brown Eucalyptus was from Lee Mathews


If you have winter coats you haven’t worn, you probably won’t want to pay for dry cleaning just to guard against eggs that might have been deposited on them. Yet if you store them as is, you risk an infestation. In this case, try an old-fashioned but effective regimen: Take the items outside on a sunny day and brush them vigorously, especially under collars and along seams. This should remove eggs and larvae, which are so small, you probably won’t be able to see them. In case you miss a few of the pests or their eggs, pack this clothing separately from laundered or dry-cleaned items.

Smart Storage
Moths and beetles can get through extremely tight spaces. When storing woolens, reclosable plastic bags or plastic boxes are best for keeping pests out. To protect the items from condensation, wrap them in lengths of clean cotton, and store. Take care in using plastic containers for long-term storage — years rather than months — as they do not allow the items to breathe, and some plastics may degrade fabric over time. If storing valuable items, consult with a professional textile conservator for recommendations.

Choosing a Method
There are numerous products — some natural, some chemical-based, and with varying levels of effectiveness — that are intended to deter moths and beetles. It’s best to know a product’s pros and cons before you make a choice. In the right circumstances, any of these approaches can be useful. Just remember that nothing discourages clothes moths and carpet beetles more than keeping your woolen items clean and storing them correctly.

The dark-colored heartwood of red cedar contains natural oils that kill clothes-moth larvae, but this alone won’t protect clothing. It’s not effective against carpet beetles, and, with moths, it kills only young larvae, not older ones or eggs. The effect also fades as the scent does. You can replenish the scent of boards, closets, and chests by sanding the wood lightly or dabbing on cedar oil, but there is no way to know if you’ve added enough. If you have a cedar chest, it’s best to think of it as a reasonably airtight storage container — and only keep clean fabric inside it. Again, wrap items in clean cotton before storing them.

I found Cedar hangers and sticks at Muji

Mothballs and Moth Crystals
These can thwart infestations but come with many drawbacks, so you’re probably better off without them. Both products contain pesticides that can be harmful to people, unborn babies, and pets. Since mothballs and moth crystals work by releasing fumigant gas, they must be used in tight-fitting containers, rather than in closets or drawers, to be effective. If you do use these products, keep containers out of your living area — in a garage, perhaps. And air out clothing thoroughly outside before wearing it or hanging it in your closet again (dry cleaning won’t eliminate the mothball door).

Using this plant to repel clothes moths is an old homemaker’s trick. Sachets filled with lavender (and/or laced with its oil) and suspended in your closet or tucked in your drawers are said to protect woolens. They will also leave a pleasant scent behind. Lavender will not, however, kill moth eggs or larvae, so be sure the space is free of them first.
Solving an Existing Problem
What if you already have clothes or carpet pests? Here are some tips for identifying the bugs you are dealing with, getting rid of them, and then salvaging your woolen items.

What to Look For
You won’t likely see clothes moths, but if you find holes, you know you have a problem. With moth larvae, you may find silky webbing or cigarlike cocoons. Beetle larvae leave dried skins — like tiny rice grains.

Treating Clothes
Remove and treat all infested material. You might throw away the most damaged clothing. Dry-clean or launder items you keep; freezing also eradicates pests: Put items in sealed plastic bags, squeeze out air, and freeze for a few days. Take the bags out, let them return to room temperature, and then repeat. In case of condensation, let clothes air out before storing again.

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Comments 2

  1. Ah, thanks Lorrie for all of the those wonderful tips. I’m usually very laissez-faire with these things, however it reminds me to take care of my most precious souvenir from Russia, the beautiful Mongolian cashmere jumper I purchased in Ulan Ude, which had story attached to it!

  2. Wile this is not an issue I have to deal with personally – not having an extensive range of cashmere – it is a really interesting post.

    My mother Betty had quite a lot of Cashmere, most of it bought during a trip to England and Scotland in 1956. When she died, just coming up 20 years ago in November, we discovered all her Cashmere carefully sealed and stored (in some cases in their original boxes) and perfectly preserved for more than 40 years.

    I can’t remember just what method she used, but I suspect it was the rather awful camphor balls, but never with the items themselves …. I think she laundered them, wrapped them tightly in a plastic bag, placed them in a box with some camphor balls that hindered the little critters from wanting to get in there.

    From memory, I think she also put some lavender ‘cushions’ in the box, and perhaps a ‘cushion’ sprayed with her favourite scent Lily of the Valley. Perhaps these last two additions were simply to counteract the camphor smell ….

    What I do know is that the beautiful but initially expensive cashmere remained in constant use for 40 years ….. so in fact roved the rule that quality products, well cared for, always end up cheaper !!!

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