Clothes Moths Prevention & Treatment

John is our Senior Copywriter and is going through the fun and stress-free process of buying his first home. Join him here in this monthly post about home living, moving house and kitting out your first home. First up, some thoughts and tips about clothes moths. He does not want them to move house with him (unless they contribute to the mortgage and are happy to receive deliveries while he’s at work).

clothes moths

On this fine day I have decided to pay tribute to the humble clothes moth. Having studied it for many years I must finally concede my respect for what has become my fiercest adversary.

I can spot a clothes moth from 7 metres, even when it’s camouflaged in a carpet of the same colour. That’s how refined my senses have become when dealing with these niggling critters.

Mark my words, friends. If we’re not careful, this innocuous creature will evolve into a race of super-vermin capable of chewing through brick, metal, rock, and Yorkies that have been in the fridge for ages.

Let me describe my carpets to you.

Imagine you had a small garden that contained 5 square metres of grass. Now imagine you had 17 cows living there. Have a think about what your lawn might look like. That’s how bare my carpets are.

For years they have been feasting upon the fineries of my home. Every time I vacuum, the bald patches reveal themselves a little more. May the gods have mercy on your soul should you be the kind of person who loathes housework and only vacuums once a year.

Admittedly I only vacuum once a year. But really, is that the answer? That’s what they want me to do. I would have to spend every waking moment ushering them into my vacuum cleaner, which would negate my entire existence. An endless purgatory masterminded by tiny, mindless brutes.

And the vacuum cleaner doesn’t even get them all! The ones who survive end up in a vessel filled with cloth and dust and everything their hearts desire. It’s like hurling a toddler into a gargantuan silo of candy floss.

Tips for preventing and treating clothes moths

Anyway, I suppose I’m exaggerating a little. Here’s what you can do to deal with the clothes moth.

1. Wood or laminate flooring

I’m moving house in August and my new place comes complete with laminate flooring in every room. Any clothes moths who make the move with me will face a barren future indeed. It’s a personal preference I suppose, but I find laminate or wood flooring quite lovely and shiny and easy to keep clean. Plus it’s perfect if, like me, you have dust allergies.

2. Replace your wardrobe with chain mail and suits of armour

The ravenous clothes moth is yet to reach an evolutionary state where it’s capable of consuming metal. You just need to cope with all the peculiar looks that literally everyone will give you.

3. Vacuum storage bags

If you’re not familiar with these vacuum bags, then now’s the time to get on board. Fill them with items you don’t use very often – winter coats, ski jackets, fancy woollen jumpers, spare duvets etc – and then attach a vacuum nozzle to the connector. When it sucks all the air out, not only does it shrink the contents to a fraction of the size for easy storage, but it also stops any moths in their tracks.

4. Lavender

Clothes moths hate lavender. Why do you think your nan’s flat smells like a vast Dutch greenhouse full of lavender plants? Because she’s wiser than you and won her battle with clothes moths decades ago.

5. Pheromone traps

Turn their primitive desires against them and capture them in these sticky traps. They give off pheromones that attract the moths, who find themselves stuck to the cardboard. Place them in dark corners and spots that are difficult to reach with your vacuum cleaner.

6. Sprays

There’s a whole armoury of sprays you can use to stop them breeding. Again, dark corners are where they are most effective – just remember to read the instructions as some sprays require a bit of ventilation once applied.

7. Break out the vacuum

One of my favourite sayings is: “Do as I say, not as I do.” Regular vacuuming will work wonders (so I’m told).

Follow these tips and you’ll soon be on top of the problem. But remember, if you find yourself with a pest that you can’t handle, our pest controllers can definitely help you out.

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  1. Oh the joy of finding your bestest ever jumper with a not-so inconspicuous hole right in the centre of the back!
    Great advice, I did not know that moths hate lavender, so you live & learn,thank you from the centre of my Holey jumper! Not so keen on hoovering any more than I already do though,

  2. This is one of the reasons I grow Lavender, I also love the smell, Lavender is also good for calming frayed nerves, especially if you’re inundated with moths!

  3. This is the 3rd consecutive year I’ve been inundated by clothes moths & it’s been the same for the couple upstairs. Because Mrs Upstairs & I have discussed the subject intensively, I find mine don’t behave like normal moths while hers do! For example, hers found her cashmere sweaters & did the usual moths’ thing with them. I have wool & wool mixture sweaters, jackets & coats & despite regular inspections, I haven’t yet found any with even tiny holes in them. I don’t know where Mrs U’s ones hang out but mine favour my fleece sweaters & jackets. I find them esconced in whichever one I pick up; sometimes whole families of them. Now some of my fleeces are made out of recycled soda bottles so it’s obvious they’re not getting any nourishment from them so I can only assume, like me, they just like the feel of them & the warmth they provide. My three bedrooms, family room & staircase all have the same wool mixture carpet & though I’ve occasionally found moths walking about on it, they don’t seem to be dining on that, either. Not unless they have very tidy minds & are responsible for the 4 or 5 tiny, furrows laid out in straight & evenly spaced rows near the door hinges in one bedroom. They very rarely venture downstairs, maybe because I squish all the ones I see on the walls of the staircase before they get all the way to the bottom. But they do seem to like to hang out on the pale green walls in my bedroom but not the other upstairs one, the landing & most of all, the staircase! I do have several of the phermerone traps situated where I see most gathering & they are highly effective except for the one between my bed & the wardrobe. Don’t ask as I have no idea why not. They all hang out round it as I can tell because I’m always squishing them there but very few actually go onto it. The others all have to have the sticky insert replaced regularly. Unfortunately, I have asthma & don’t cope well with most of the products I’ve bought from John Lewis & Lakeland. Mrs U sent away for the stuff they use in the British Museum to protect their treasures & waxes eloquently on their effectiveness should you want to try that. I know this may not be what you want to hear but I recently read an article by someone who has studied them in depth & he said that if you find as many as five in one room over a period of days, you have a true infestation & will need to call in a professional to exterminate them. Hell, I frequently kill seven or more on the walls in one trip upstairs! One thing I have noticed this year that’s a new variation. They’re much darker than previous years. I don’t know if that’s significant but I just threw it in in the hopes someone else may know & will tell us. Good luck John & anyone else in the same position. We certainly need it dealing with these little horrors!

    1. I feel your pain, I really do! Since writing this blog I’ve moved to my own flat and I made a point of getting laminate flooring throughout (it was a new build so I was lucky enough to be able to choose). I’ve seen one or two though – presumably there were some eggs on my clothes that made the journey with me.

      I do know they like dark places that don’t have much activity, so it’s not unusual for carpets in open parts of a room to be untouched.

      Re: the pheromone traps, it’s possible you have a different type of moth between the bed and wardrobe. I did read that some types aren’t susceptible to the traps.

      Also remember that it’s the larvae they leave behind that eat the fabrics, rather than the moths themselves, so it’s possible you might see the consequences of moths without seeing the actual moths themselves.

      And man alive! If 5+ moths is an infestation then god help us all! I used to go on moth patrol several times a day if I was in – I would often lose count of how many I despatched!

      Good luck with it – think of us if you need a pest controller to come round with a quote.

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