Best clothes moth repellent

In fact, it’s a common misconception that adult moths eat fabric. It is their larvae, half-inch caterpillars that spend their roughly 10-day-long life cycle fattening up on the contents of your closet, that leave those telltale holes.

Image Credit…Harry Campbell

And those holes are often the first sign of an infestation. Adult moths are a mere quarter-inch wide and a camouflage-friendly beige-brown, which makes them hard to see.

If you do spot moths in your home, don’t panic. Chances are they aren’t the clothes-eating kind. “There are 15,000 moth species in the U.S.,” said Bruce Walsh, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona at Tucson. “To give you a sense of perspective, only two affect clothes. So if you see one, odds are you don’t have a clothes moths.”

To find out, try a pheromone-moth trap, like the Pro-Pest Clothes Moth Traps (about $14 on, sticky strips that emit mating pheromones, luring the male clothing moths. “It’s an excellent monitoring tool, especially if you don’t know how to inspect every cranny looking for a caterpillar,” Professor Miller said.

Whether you have clothes-eating moths or not, though, storing clothing safely — preferably in dry, airtight containers or clothing bags — is essential. “Airtight just means moths can’t get in,” Professor Miller said. “If adult moths can’t get in, they can’t lay eggs.”

Any plastic sweater box with a tight-fitting lid (the Container Store sells them for about $5) will do the trick. For extra protection, seal the edges with packing tape. Vacuum-sealed garment bags work, too (the Stow More Garment and Travel Bags by Bongo are about $10 for a set of three on, and individual items can be safely stored in Ziploc bags.

Cedar balls or cedar-lined chests are another option, although they’re not always effective. What “most people don’t realize is that the fumes from cedar are toxic to moths only when in very high concentrations,” Professor Farr said. “So people think, ‘O. K., I can throw a couple cedar balls into each sweater bag, and I’m good.’ Probably not.” Also, the cedar fumes will dissipate, which means you will need to add new balls, replace the cedar or sand it to revive its potency.

How To Get Rid Of Clothes Moths

Damp, warm conditions wreak havoc with your hair, but there’s something much more horrifying to keep you awake at night as temperatures begin to rise: moth larvae are currently the happy receivers of a perfect munching playground. Prepare for a biblical onslaught. “For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool”, as Isaiah puts it.

© Tim Walker

The clothes moth has good taste: luscious cashmere is its favourite dish, followed by a host of natural fibres including silk, lambswool, shearling, feathers and cotton. So, how to defend your Dolce, guard your Gucci and secure your Céline against imminent infestation? Follow Vogue’s tips for getting rid of clothes moths.

**1. Deep clean your wardrobe. ** Moths like undisturbed corners that are dark and warm. Remove everything from your wardrobe, hoover all the corners and drawers, and wipe all your surfaces with a detergent-soaked cloth to kill off larvae. Then wash or dry clean all of your clothes (and curtains and upholstery, too). Freeze anything you can fit on your freezer shelves; sub-zero temperatures kill larvae, although make sure you put clothes in plastic bags prior to freezing to avoid a condensation build-up. Keep them in there for 48 hours.

© Tim Walker

**2. Keep your clothes clean. ** Moths love to feast on human sweat and food particles. Do not put any clothes back in your newly cleaned wardrobe that are dirty – especially knitwear.

**3. Store your knitwear in garment bags. ** As summer beckons, store winter knits and any other items you particularly value in zip-lock bags (Argos has zipped garment cases in a range of sizes, from £5.99) and line with anti-moth paper strips (Rentokil’s are unscented and kill both eggs and larvae, which not all do, from £5.64 at Amazon). Line your drawers in anti-moth paper (from £18.50, Total Wardrobe Care) and deploy cedarwood sticks (£6.95 for 20 sticks, Muji).

**4. Vet your vintage. ** Vintage clothes should be dry cleaned before being introduced to your wardrobe, as they are often the source of infestations.

Read more: How To Care For Your Cashmere

**5. Invest in cedarwood hangers. ** Moths hate them, and they’ll keep the shoulders on your dresses and jackets neat, too (from £12.95 for 3, Muji). Always take your clothes out of the plastic hanging bags from the dry cleaner. The plastic attracts dust; the dust attracts moths.

**6. Be vigilant. ** Keep checking your clothes for moth holes, keep rooms well-ventilated as temperatures start to rise, and keep a natural oil diffuser in your wardrobe at all times – it smells great and wards off moths (£20, Total Wardrobe Care). Rentokil’s moth cassettes are also a good precautionary measure; keep them hanging on your rail at all times (from £5 at Amazon).

**7. When all else fails, turn to fumigation. ** EnviroGuard provide a 24-hour emergency call out service and will fumigate your house if the problem is deep seated. Overkill? We think not.

All products featured on the website are independently selected by our Editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

It’s that time of year again! The calendar says to start putting those seasonal outfits and bedding away in storage, and you want to make sure your wardrobe is fresh and ready to wear next season. This year, skip the smelly mothballs you usually use to keep your outfits from becoming moth meals. Learn how to use natural alternatives to mothballs to help protect your clothes from hungry insects.

Mothballs are made of hazardous chemicals and use paradichlorobenzene and naphthalene to produce that overwhelmingly strong order and noxious vapors. Mothballs are poisonous if eaten by small children, and the massive doses of this toxic chemical needed to kill moths can accumulate in our cells and make us sick, too. They can even make our pets sick. Here’s how to get rid of moths naturally without using mothballs.

1. Always Wash First

Image via Bigstock

Before you pack up your clothes to put in storage units, make sure they are laundered thoroughly and — almost more importantly — dried completely. Moths are attracted to smells such as soaps and perfume, so if your clothes still carry those scents, moths will be drawn to them. Washing your clothes before putting them away will also remove moth eggs already on your clothes from last year.

2. Cedar Chips

Cedar chips are a natural moth deterrent and a useful alternative for protecting your closet’s contents from insects. Cedar comes in a variety of options from hanging cedar blocks to cedar chip balls to small plastic containers filled with cedar chips. Replace cedar chips annually or more often if you notice they have lost their fresh smell. Cedar chips are easy to find at any major home supply retail store or online at Amazon and are a very economical way to get rid of clothes moths naturally.

3. Lavender

Another natural alternative to mothballs is the herb lavender. Lavender repels insects naturally, and most moths tend to avoid its scent. Another advantage of using lavender is that it has a clean and pleasant smell. Used in aromatherapy, lavender is said to help relieve stress and anxiety. Simply add a few cloth satchels filled with dried lavender throughout your closet, and then enjoy the fragrant aroma. You can also use lavender’s oil extraction by dabbing a few drops on a cotton ball or a linen cloth. Hang the oil-infused items near your clothes, but not touching them, because the lavender oil can stain.

4. Cloves

Cloves are a top three pick for the most fragrant and natural ways to get rid of clothes moths. Not only do cloves smell wonderfully delicious, slightly sweet, and spicy but they also offer great natural ways to get rid of clothes moths. Make your own natural, moth-repelling sachet with a sheer, stiff fabric, such as organza, or wrap whole cloves in tissue paper and hang them in your closet. Cloves are one more natural alternative to mothballs, minus the harsh chemicals and irritating smell.

5. Airtight Containers

As a preventive measure, you can seal up your clothes and seasonal bedding in airtight plastic containers. Containers and large zip-up garment bags create another layer of protection for your clothing and provide a barrier to seal insects out. Again, just remember to wash your outfits before you seal them up, and wipe out all your containers to remove any existing moth eggs. Store your chemical-free and naturally moth-safe containers in a self-storage unit to free up space in the closet.

6. DIY Moth Repellant Spray

A homemade DIY natural anti-moth spray is easy to put together. Mix ¼ cup of neem oil in a 2-quart spray bottle. Fill it with water, then add a few drops of liquid soap. Shake well, and spray your solution directly on the moths.
Another simple solution is to mix white vinegar with equal amounts of water to create a pesticide spray that is effective against moths. Just be careful spraying your repellent on certain types of fabric, such as silk, suede, and leather, as the vinegar and water solution will stain.

7. Clean Up After Pets

Just as moths love scents commonly found on humans, they are also irresistibly drawn to animals and their crates. To keep moths from setting up shop in your home, deep-clean all areas your pet frequents with soap and water weekly. Cages and pet bedding — mainly wood shavings and shredded newspaper — serve as breeding and nesting areas for moths, who lay their eggs near animal fibers, a favorite food of their larvae.
It’s easy to get rid of moths without using toxic mothballs. Their terrible lingering odor might just be worse than finding your favorite wool blazer riddled with holes. These are just seven nontoxic, pleasant-smelling, and natural ways to get rid of clothes moths without reaching for the mothballs.

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Elliot Chalme

A New York City native, who split his time growing up in Brooklyn and Manhattan, currently living in Philadelphia sharing storage and organization knowledge, and NYC insider info with the Storage Space readers!

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• Where do moths come from and how to tell if you have a moth infestation?

• Find out how to get rid of a moth infestation and how to protect your clothes from moths

Do you have a moth infestation? Are you wondering how to get rid of moths in your wardrobe, in your carpets or in your kitchen? We’ve done our research and rounded up the best advice and natural methods to help you prevent moths from entering your home and solve the problem if they already have.

Clothes moths have seen a rapid rise in numbers, with English Heritage saying they have doubled in the past five years. The charity has even discovered a new species feeding on the ancient fabrics under their care. So now more than ever, fabrics and furnishings are under threat from these pests.

Where do moths come from and what signs do you need to look out for?

  • Most flying insects tend to be drawn towards light, but clothes moths actually prefer to hide away in dark, undisturbed areas – such as wardrobes, cupboards and boxes. They also stay near their food sources (see below for detail).
  • Adult moths do not have mouths so holes in clothes are actually made from moth larvae. Sign of damage on your clothes will alert you to where the eggs have been laid. You should look out for webbing and cocoons in the corners of your wardrobe and cupboards.
  • Moths have a very strong sense of smell and it is how they communicate, find mates and detect food.

Moth cocoons can look similar to this. Getty Images

How to prevent moths infesting your clothes

  • Moths are mostly drawn to the human sweat, hair and body oil that are left on clothing, particularly those made out of natural fibres (wool, feathers, fur, silk). Therefore, it’s important to wash your clothes before you store them – especially if you are putting them away for a long period of time.
  • Store clothes in an air-tight bag or plastic container – not cardboard boxes as moths can chew through these (£12.99 for 12, Amazon).
  • Vacuum regularly – moths can lay eggs in carpets too.
  • Keep your wardrobe ventilated as moths are attracted to warm, humid spaces.
  • Hang clothing made from natural fibres on cedar hangers as this will repel the moths. Put extra cedar items in the pockets of the garments if they are long. You can buy a pack of cedar wood items, for £9.99, from Amazon.

How to get rid of a moth infestation in your wardrobe

  • Wash all items of clothing that have been affected on a high temperature. Alternatively, put them in the freezer for a few days to kill any eggs. Clean all cupboards and wardrobes with a vinegar and water solution. (Be careful here when cleaning antiques.)
  • Vacuum regularly to remove any eggs or debris that might be on/in the carpet.
  • You can make your own natural repellant that will also smell lovely in your wardrobe. Place dried rosemary, thyme, cloves, lavender or bay leaves into a small cloth bag and hang them in your wardrobe and place them in your drawers. The oil form of these herbs, sprayed on contaminated areas and clothes, can also repel moths. You can use an essential oil diffuser, like this Amazon Best Seller for £14.99.
  • Buy a natural moth spray – such as these from Amazon.
  • Research a pest control expert in your area.

Tuan TranGetty Images

How to get rid of a moth infestation in the kitchen

  • If you notice a musty smell, webbing in the corner or a sticky secretion in your food cupboards – and/or have seen the moths or caterpillars themselves – then you need to take action on that area. Dispose of all contaminated foods and thoroughly clean the cupboard.
  • Be particularly careful of grains, nuts and rice as moths both feed on, and lay their eggs, in these foods. Any open containers of these products should be disposed of.
  • Keep your kitchen well ventilated.
  • Buy a natural kitchen repellant – such as these from
  • Research a pest control expert in your area.

What NOT to don when you have moths

Attempt to treat a moth infestation with normal pesticides or products which you have not checked for toxic qualities. These can be damaging if they are transferred onto your skin through your clothes or bedding. They are also harmful to most household pets.

Browse our other handy pest control guides…

  • How to get rid of mice
  • How to get rid of slugs
  • How to get rid of greenfly

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Clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) with closed wings sitting at rest

Clothes moths have long been a problem for mankind. It is believed they have been around as long as there have been animals with hair. Natural fibers are what clothing moths feed on; they have a unique ability to turn keratin, a protein available in wool, fur, horns and many other natural materials, into food. Clothes moths possess a special enzyme which does it work in the digestive track of the moth.

Though they prefer natural hairs and fabric fibers, clothing moths have been found to eat just about anything. The list includes but is not limited to snake skin, beef, just about any type of meal, milk products, finger nail clippings, human hair, pet hair or dander, wool, cotton, silk, furniture, insulation, carpets – both natural and synthetic, leather, cork and bees wax.

Though clothes moths appear to eat most anything they can find, it this does not mean they are able to live and prosper on such diets. Clearly some of the above items on which they feed are better suited as food items and some are not. However, the moth will take advantage of that which is available; a variety is not needed, just a good supply of something which has their needed nutrients.


Clothes moths seem to prefer fabric which is dirty or stained. They are particularly attracted to carpeting or clothes which has human sweat, urine, milk, coffee, gravy or other liquids which have spilled on them. It appears they are attracted to these areas not because of what spilled there but because the spill contains moisture – a vital need for most insects. Since moth larva do not drink water, their food must contain moisture from which they can extract their requirements.

This process is unique to several insects; clothes moths will produce a small frass like pellet which is excreted during the process of moisture removal. This frass is commonly found in carpeting or clothing where infestations have been active for some time. This behavior supports why clothes moths will find their way to our clothing, carpeting and furniture. These three not only contain the foodstuff clothes moths need to eat but generally will have all types of food and/or water based materials spilled on them. Their dry pelleted excrement is free of all moisture since the larva is able to use it all in order to remain both healthy and moist.


Clothes moths develop much like any other insect. Eggs hatch larva which feed. Once they get their fill they pupate where they undergo metamorphosis to emerge as the adult. Adults do not eat; male adults look for females and adult females look for a place to lay eggs. Once their job is done they die. Contrary to what most people believe, adult clothes moths do not eat or cause any damage to clothing or fabric.

It is the larva which is solely responsible for this; larva spend their entire time eating and foraging for food. If they find enough close to where they hatch they will spend their time eating and very little time foraging. If conditions are not providing them with enough food, larva will become mobile. They will travel as far as they have to in order to get proper nutrition.

Both adults and larva prefer low light conditions. Most moths are drawn to light but clothes moths seem to like dim to dark areas over well lit rooms. If larva find themselves in a well lit room, they will try to relocate under furniture or carpet edges.

Since hand made rugs are a favorite food item for clothes moths, it is easy for them to crawl underneath and do their damage from below. They will also crawl under moldings at the edges of rooms in search of darkened areas which hold good food.

Adult clothes moth

Clothes moths can easily be confused with pantry moths. They are similar in size, can and do infest side by side and are able to eat similar food. The big difference is where they end up infesting.

Though clothes moths are able to arrive at a home in some type of grain or meal, they will move to other parts of the home where fabric is found preferring this as a main food supply. Pantry moths will readily stay where food is abundant – in the pantry.

If you are not sure which one you have, be sure to go back to our article archive section and read our article about PANTRY MOTHS. It is in depth and informative and will allow you to distinguish which one you have and thus the appropriate course of control.

Another pest which is very common and does a lot of damage to clothing and other fabrics in the home is the CARPET BEETLE. If you have seen round small beetles around the home or hairy little caterpillars about 1/4 inch long, you might have some worth treating. Carpet beetle larva eat and cause a lot of damage like clothing moth larva but their treatment is different. Refer back to our article archive where you will find an in depth article about them and how to treat local infestations.


The most common clothes moth found to infest fabric in homes and places of business is the Webbing Clothes Moth. It is found worldwide and no manmade structure is missed when they’re out looking for a place to call home. Churches, homes, carpeting stores, warehouses, museums and just about any building has the needed material on which larva of these moths feed.

Though clothes moths prefer moist conditions, it is important to understand low humidity merely slows their development. A lack of moisture is most likely to keep them eating longer and pupating for a greater length of time too. But cold or heat will not eradicate infestations.

Female adults don’t like to fly; males will readily fly looking for females. These are small moths; adults grow between 1/4 and 1/2 inch. Their eggs are tiny most being under 1/24th of an inch long and barely visible. Females will lay several hundred during her life and egg placement will be carefully chosen in locations where they will have the best chance for survival.

Clothes Moth about to lay eggs

Clothes moths prefer loose ragged threads of fiber for egg placement and when laid, the eggs are attached with a glue like material making it almost impossible to remove with ordinary vacuuming or cleaning. This is an issue which must be dealt with when treating and will be discussed later in the article.

Once eggs hatch, the feeding larvae is what does all the damage. Like caterpillars found in the yard, clothes moth larvae will eat and eat slowly and precisely devouring even the most tightly woven fabric.

Unlike most insects, clothes moth eggs will hatch when ready regardless of the climate. Inside buildings this egg hatching will happen all year round making any time the proper time to treat suspected infestations.

Seeing adults is a good sign there are feeding larvae somewhere near. But adults aren’t eating or doing damage. They’re just looking for a mate and a good place to lay eggs. Since the egg laying and larvae feeding tends to be done out of sight in dark, well protected areas, it can be difficult to isolate nest sites.


Clothes moths will eat pretty much any kind of fabric they find in the home. Cotton, silk and other natural fibers will be sought after as capable food and in general, they’ll look for these in hidden out of way locations.

Once eggs hatch, larva will immediately look for food. They are barely bigger than the egg and though have no eyes, they will easily find food.

If egg placement was good, larva won’t have to travel far to find a meal. If no food is present, they will crawl in search of dinner. The larval stage appears to be critical for understanding their development and control measures.

Larva can get their required food in under two months but if conditions are not favorable, larva will feed on and off for a long time taking years to develop. It has been found they can stay in this stage for over two years.

Wool fabric eaten by clothes moth

Besides doing a lot of damage during this time span, larva will mislead people into believing the infestation has been eliminated because no adults seen.

This can lead to improper treatment programs which serve to do nothing more than drag the process out. This will be explained later in the article.

Now it’s important to understand that even though larva do not create a case in which to live, they do spin a type of webbing around areas where they are most active. They generally will use this silken area as a place to sleep and remain protected but will venture away from it as needed to find food. Silk found on clothing or furniture is a sure sign of webbing clothes moths.

So whether it takes two months or two years, larva will eventually spin a cocoon in which they will change into adults. They will stay in these cocoon 1-2 months and then emerge as adults ready to mate and lay eggs. The average time it takes a local infestation to go from egg to egg is just about a year; the speed of development will depend entirely on food supply, humidity and temperatures.


Once you know you have clothes moths, a thorough treatment should be performed. The rest of this article will cover everything needed. Our products are what professionals use so if you are inclined to treat your home, get the listed products from us so you will have access to 24/7 customer support and the best products on the market for this problem.


The first “tool” to consider when dealing with this pest is the CLOTHES MOTH TRAPS. These are pheromone based traps which use female sex pheromones to lure males. The attractant is much stronger than natural pheromones emitted and emerging males will not be able to resist the smell.

Place one trap out per room (up to 800 sq/ft) and place them low to the ground if possible. Under couches or other furniture will work fine.

Traps will last several months and though they won’t stop eating larva, they will reduce the adult male population. This will help to prevent future egg laying and indirectly aid in control. They will also serve as a good monitoring device by alerting you to problematic areas in the home.

If your traps are catching more moths than you would like, more treatments will be needed. Be sure to locate them in closets, around carpets or furniture and any other room where you have activity. Try to inspect them at least once a week and expect them to catch less and less once you commence to the treatments listed below.


If you’re ready to treat your home for clothes moths, it would be best to do some house cleaning prior to doing the actual treatment. This will involve different things for different areas.

First, if you have activity in a closet around clothes or other stored fabric, this room will require a thorough vacuuming. You may even need to dry clean certain items. This process will help to remove moisture levels which we know clothes moths need. Make an effort to go through each piece paying particular attention to anything which is either valuable or left alone for long periods of time.

Fabric, whether clothing or bulk, can harbor infestations at different levels. Since larva will not readily migrate if the food supply is both close and abundant, you can easily miss nest locations and feeding sights. If you spend some time going through the piles of clothes and fabric you are most likely to find any droppings, webbing or even adults.

Finding clothes moth sign like this will definitely aid in control measures so pay attention when cleaning.

And if you decide to not wash or dry clean suspected infested clothing, make a point to vacuum the clothing directly. This may sound silly and the process will take some time. But it will prove to be a worthwhile investment.

Vacuuming will help remove larva, adults and their frass but eggs and pupa are almost impossible to remove which is why treating is paramount to get complete success. Their natural glue like excretions and cocoon spinning process does a good job of affixing eggs and pupa in place. And since they are near to impossible to see for the untrained eye, you’ll surely miss most making such effort inefficient at solving a local problem.

Antique hand-knotted persian wool rug with moth damage

The same holds true for carpeting. Thick carpets need to have a good vacuuming. Area rugs need to have their top side cleaned but be sure to turn as much of it over and clean the bottom.

Since hand weaved rugs generally have natural fabric through and through, clothes moths will find their way to the underside and their feeding will cause the top to come undone. However, topside treatments may not penetrate far enough to get them and turning up sides or in some cases turning the rug over may be needed to insure good coverage.

Synthetic carpeting, though it may be harboring some moth activity, usually has a some type of backing moths cannot eat. This will allow you to treat from the topside effectively. Other items which may develop moth activity include tapestries, taxidermy mounts, drapes, wreathes, linens, area rugs, stored goods or just about anything which has some natural fabric or material on which clothes moths can feed. Most of these items will need a vacuuming prior to treatments to insure good results and to maximize product effectiveness.

Once you have cleaned closets, clothing, rugs, carpeting, furniture, or anything else with activity, you are ready to treat.


There are several formulations available for clothing moths. The key is to match up the best formulation for the target area you intend on treating.

For small rooms or clothing you intend on storing away for long periods of time, an aerosol can usually handle the job well. These are easy to handle, ready to spray and effective. But they’re not good for treating the whole house nor are they good for warehouses, sales floors or attic spaces.

Liquid sprays are overall the most common applied. They can be safely used on carpets, furniture and other surfaces. When treating with a liquid, you’ll want to combine an growth regulator with an adulticide. Growth regulators will “translocate” which helps get protection on areas you don’t spray. Plus they last a lot longer compared to just using an adulticide.

Dusting is best for hidden spaces like attics and crawl spaces. Treatments with dust will last 6-12 months so they don’t have to be applied frequently.

Fogging is ideally suited for large warehouses and showrooms. You can get a vast area treated with less product and be more thorough as well.


PERMETHRIN AEROSOL has long been used as a chigger, mosquito and insect repellent. This formulation is designed for use on clothing so if you are storing seasonal garments and want to protect them during storage, lightly misting them before storage. Permethrin is odorless and can last 2-3 months when treated clothing will be stored out of direct sunlight.

This should only be used when you know there are no active moths in the structure as it will not “cure” a problem. But it has no odor, works better than moth balls and will stop fabric eating pests like clothes moths.

If you have seen moths and are concerned there could be a problem but don’t know where to treat, installing AEROSOL MACHINES with CLEAR ZONE refills will offer relief. These machines run off batteries, can be wall mounted and will provide a one second blast of aerosol every 15 minutes.

Set up one machine for every 400 sq/ft of room. They release a small amount of pyrethrin which will kill active adult moths. This in turn will stop the cycle from developing. Machines should be off the ground 6-8 feet.

Each machine will need a can of CLEAR ZONE inside. These cans will last approximately 30 days so plan on running them for at least 2 months if you’ve had a problem. For some environments, running them all year long is the only way you can ensure a problem does not develop.

Remember, the above aerosol treatments will mostly be working on adults. Eggs and pupa will remain in tact and since it takes several months from these to hatch out you must be sure to have a continuous supply of Clear Zone released in the air to ensure control. The active ingredient, pyrethrin, is short lived which is why it needs to be renewed over and over.

That being said, the one advantage these systems have is that they’re well suited for small areas. Additionally, once the device is configured to your liking, they’re low maintenance. All you need to do is keep refills with product inside and replace the batteries once a year.

Now if you’re sure there is active clothes throughout the closet and home, treating with BEDLAM PLUS. might handle it. This aerosol combines an adulticide and a growth regulator so it will effectively control all stages of clothes moths developing. It’s ideal for use in small rooms like closets and can be applied to the carpeting, baseboards and other areas clothes moths like to nest.

One can can cover up to 1500 sq/ft and should be applied every two weeks for at least two months to ensure success. Bedlam is convenient to use but for the average 2000-2500 sq/ft home, using the liquid recommended below would prove more cost effective.

Bedlam is well suited for sensitive furniture though so if you’re opposed to spraying a couch or bedding, Bedlam can handle it. Bedlam is also good for clothing. Especially clothing with known problems or items you plan on storing for a long time. Bedlam will last 3-6 months which is much longer compared to the Permethrin aerosol listed above. And its safe enough to use on fine fur too.


Rugs and carpeting which have moth activity will generally need more than just aerosol to control a local problem. Liquid applications are really the only way to be sure you get thorough coverage and enough material to last.

Keep in mind place mats and area rugs will need to have both their top and bottom sides treated; wall to wall carpeting generally only needs to be sprayed on top. Since eggs and pupa will not be killed during the treatment, you will need to use a material which will provide a long lasting residual and include a growth regulator to intercept developing eggs. A good combination of products is BITHOR and NYGUARD.

Bithor is odorless, mixes with water easily and can be sprayed safely on carpets, furniture and baseboards.

Add 1 oz per gallon of water and plan on using the entire gallon over 1,000 sq/ft of rugs and furniture. Remember, water is the carrier so if you are not comfortable spraying water over sensitive furniture, use the Bedlam aerosol listed above. It will go on “dry” and be more discreet.

To ensure the best results, add a GROWTH REGULATOR to the tank mix. These are essentially proteins which mimic the target pests natural protein. By overexposing it to this protein, we can cause the insect to “stall” during development and not be able to fully mature. This will help in a big way mostly because growth regulators will last much longer in areas where applied compared to the Bithor. They also “translocate” which means they move around after being applied. This helps a lot since its not possible to spray everywhere when you treat. But this property of relocating around the room onto walls and other hidden spaces, you get much better coverage when adding some to the tank mix.

Growth regulators come in two concentrates. The standard one is fine for most applications. Use 1 oz per gallon of water and add it directly to the tank mix with the Bithor.

Use this once a month for the first two months of treating.

For large structures like rug warehouses or showrooms, the super concentrated NYGUARD will prove more cost effect as you only need to use 1/2 oz per gallon of water (mixed with the Bithor).

Apply the mixture of Bithor and growth regulator using a good PUMP SPRAYER and be sure to get proper coverage. Plan on treating once a month for the first two months and then once a quarter for the next year to insure the infestation is under control.

And if you have valuable area rugs which you want to protect, it makes sense to treat them twice a year to ensure moth activity will never start. This is easy to do and is the simplest way to protect a rug which could cost several thousands of dollars.

The following video shows how to fan spray properly when treating rugs.


Dust for clothes moths is a good option for long term control of well hidden or protected areas hard to reach with liquids. Such areas include attics and baseboard molding where wall to wall carpets get tucked underneath. Egg laying females will find such areas and like to lay eggs where its dark and secluded. These areas are typically well protected from liquid treatments and aerosols don’t do a good enough job penetrating either.

Attic spaces will often contain natural fibers commonly used in the insulation or something being stored. Eggs laid in this area can take a long time to develop but eventually will mature and forage to other parts of the home.

For attic spaces and under the baseboard molding, DELTAMETHRIN DUST is a long lasting product well suited for such sites.

1 lb will cover up to 1000 of surface area in the attic and treatments will last 1-2 years.

To apply the dust under baseboards, use a HAND DUSTER.

For attic spaces, use a DUSTIN MIZER. This device will blow the dust a good 20-30 feet allowing you to cover large areas without having to walk too far.


For large areas like showrooms and warehouses, fogging will prove to be more efficient and cost effective. It will cover a large area in a fraction of the time and distribute the treatment in a more uniform manner. This will provide better coverage saving you time, energy and cost.

The best agent for the job is FENVASTAR. This active works well on small flying pests like clothes moths.

Add 1/2 oz per gallon of water and expect to get 2500-5000 sq/ft of floor space treated. Be sure to use protective GOGGLES as this active will irritate your eyes if you stay in the treated zone.

Be sure to add a growth regulator to the tank mix. Either the NYLAR or NYGUARD can be mixed with Fenvastar (listed above) and will help break the life cycle of established moth populations as well as prevent them in the future.

For fogging small areas 5,000 sq/ft or less, the MINI-FOGGER can handle the job. It uses a 32 oz holding tank for water and chemical and will propel the mist 10-20 feet.

For anything over 5,000 sq/ft, go with the FM6208. This model features a 1 gallon holding tank and is more powerful. With this unit the fog will reach out 20-30 feet and the rate can be adjusted.

Fogging for clothes moths is both effective and cost efficient. You’ll use 75% less chemical, do the job in a fraction of the time and be more thorough with the treatment. Since the go will spread out and cover every nook and cranny, not one stage can hide from the mist.

In summary, clothes moths can be a damaging, frustrating pest. Finding the “source” is near to impossible and since they can spread so far in a structure, the only safe approach when treating is to use the shotgun method of treating everything. The good news is the right combination of products distributed over throughout the areas of activity or where they might get active can yield positive results.


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In recent years we have had a lot of moths but they now seem to be everywhere. Most of my clothes are ruined. I’ve tried mothballs but they stink. The last straw was when I pulled out my favourite jacket – they’ve eaten right across the front of it. Any suggestions?
Rosaleen, London

When you say they are everywhere, you probably mean the adult moth. There are three common clothes moths in this country and, of those, one is prevalent: the webbing moth. It is rather beautiful, fairly small (7mm-10mm long) and a golden caramel colour. It’s not the adults that do the damage, but the caterpillars. You don’t generally see the adults in winter (I realise it’s still meant to be summer, but … ), although Gaden Robinson, an entomologist at the Natural History Museum, advises that if houses are kept above 20C constantly, moths will reproduce all year (otherwise they only do so twice a year).

Most commercially available deterrents will only keep away the adult moth. This is of little use if the eggs have already been laid – and it’s impossible to tell with the naked eye if they have. Here are some tips for storing clothes: Robinson says that “no stage of a moth’s life cycle can withstand laundering or dry cleaning”. It’s imperative that immediately after doing this you store it in a garment bag. Plastic sealable freezer bags are great for jumpers and smaller items. Don’t do what I did and put a once-worn jumper in a sealed plastic bag, only to come back to it four months later to find that yes, I had contained the damage, but my wonderful cashmere jumper now had most of the front missing.

So before packing anything away, dry clean or wash it. If in doubt, or you can’t clean it, seal the item in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer. A temperature of minus 28C-32C is ideal for seven to 10 days. If your freezer doesn’t go that low, just store the item for longer. This will kill any eggs you can’t see. Vacuum the insides of cupboards and, to be on the safe side, put clingfilm over the hose opening in between vacuums as inside vacuum bags is heaven for hatching moths. Put away everything in garment bags and then hang moth deterrents, but – and this is probably where you’ve also been going wrong, as it’s where everyone goes wrong – you need to change them regularly, whatever you use. I would recommend every three months. Also, moths love dark, quiet places, so in a sense the worst thing we can do is hide away our precious clothes for ages. Every month, it’s worth checking how things are doing. Be aware that at normal room temperature the time between eggs being laid and hatching is a week to 10 days, so the damage can happen quite fast.

Ikea ( has some good, cheap products to help you in your battle. Its Trofast box system starts at £1.50. The lid doesn’t clip on but once in place it’s impossible to penetrate. The boxes stack, too. Garment bags are super cheap from there – the range is called Svajs and it costs £1.59 for three. The quality isn’t fantastic, though, so check for tearing regularly. For really important clothes, I recommend cotton garment cover bags: not cheap but they last for ever. Total Wardrobe Care, 020-7498 4360) sells some beautiful ones. Each bag holds six to eight garments and comes in small, medium or large sizes, £15-£20. You can also store cashmere jumpers in an old cotton pillowcase but make sure a) there are no holes and b) it is sealed – a Jumbo Klippit from Lakeland, £2.99 for four, is perfect here (, 015394 88100).

Also from Lakeland is the Cedar Wood Set, (code 20188), £5.99 for 30 pieces, which you can put on hangers and scatter in drawers. Just revitalise the smell by sanding them lightly and adding more cedarwood oil (nealsyard, £5 a bottle, which will last for years). Total Wardrobe Care also sells chic natural products to hang or put in drawers, including a pheromone trap Moth Box, £7; Anti-Moth Sachet, £5; and 10 Anti-Moth Ovals, £5. It’s crucial to keep the smell active by adding more essential oils or replacing them. Don’t expect them to last all year once you’ve put them in the cupboard.

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We’ve all been there. You pick up a favourite piece of clothing and look down in horror to discover a small hole has appeared out of the blue! The most likely culprit is a clothes moth or, to be more accurate, its larvae, as it’s the young grubs that wreak havoc on your winter woolies.

Clothes moth damage is a common problem but it’s not one you’ll want to leave unchecked. If you discover you’ve unwittingly been housing some unwanted winged guests, don’t panic – armed with the right information you can stop them in their clothes-munching tracks. Here’s what you need to know.

We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

Know your enemy

Even if you haven’t discovered holes in your clothes – yet! – the presence of certain types of moth in your home is a warning to take action. Look out for the brown house moth (8mm long with bronze, black-flecked wings) and the common clothes moth (6-7mm long with paler, beige wings). If they lay their eggs in your home, the larvae that hatch from them will feast on your fibres.

These grubs have a particular taste for animal fibres such as wool, silk, cashmere and angora but they will also target cotton fabrics if there’s nothing else available. They don’t differentiate between clothes or soft furnishings so don’t assume your carpets are safe, either.

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Hunt them down

Contrary to popular belief, moths aren’t just drawn to light. In fact, they will seek out dark, undisturbed places to lay their eggs such as the back of your wardrobe or seldom-opened drawers. Check in these spots for signs of creamy white larvae with a brown head. They’ll be hard to miss as one female moth can deposit anywhere from 50 to 1,000 eggs at a time!

At the same time, check areas of carpet underneath rugs and underneath or behind seldom-moved furniture.

Christian PrandlGetty Images

Take action

To get rid of moths you’ll need to break their life cycle, and that means getting rid of any unhatched eggs as well as larvae. Start by taking all the clothes out of your wardrobe then vacuum the bottom of the wardrobe thoroughly, using the crevice tool on your vacuum cleaner to get right into the corners and along the edges. Use a treatment such as Acana Carpet & Fabrics Moth Killer Spray on carpet at the bottom of the wardrobe.

Next, wash all your clothes at the highest recommended temperature and take any dry-clean-only items to the dry cleaner. You can also wrap things made from non-washable fabrics in plastic bags and then pop them in the freezer for 48 hours, as sub-zero temperatures kill moth larvae.

Vacuum carpets throughout the house thoroughly, paying particular attention to areas of carpet underneath furniture, then follow up by treating any areas where you’ve seen adult moths using the same Acana spray.

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Gone for good

When it comes to moths, prevention is better than cure. Here are 5 things you can do to keep these winged pests away:

  1. Wash garments thoroughly before you put them away. Clothes moths are attracted to perspiration and food stains.
  2. Keep your wardrobe well ventilated. Air your wardrobe regularly to prevent warm, damp or musty conditions building up, which clothes moths love.
  3. Store away clothes carefully. Store freshly laundered wool clothes you won’t be wearing until next winter in a vacuum-compressed bag. A cardboard box won’t cut it, as moth larvae will chew through it.
  4. Use a natural moth repellant. Cedar wood rings in your wardrobe or drawers can help deter moths.
  5. Spritz carpets with lavender. Make a natural repellent by adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to water in a spray bottle. Shake well then spray your carpet and clothes lightly.

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Solved! What to Do When You Have Moths in the Closet


Q: I recently took my favorite sweater off of its hanger only to discover small holes in its knitting. Could this mean I have moths in the closet? And, if so, how do I get rid of them?

A: Your wardrobe woes probably stem from an infestation of clothes moths, either of the yellow-colored “webbing” species or the brown speckled “casemaking” species. These nocturnal insects crave the dark and confined space of a closet. After entering through cracks in walls or crevices beneath closet doors, they lay eggs on clothes, linens, and other fabrics stored inside. Adult moths and eggs don’t damage the items; however, hatched eggs (or larvae) feed on animal-based fabrics like silk, wool, cashmere, and fur. They’re also partial to fabrics made from a blend of animal and synthetic or cotton fibers. The result is a collection of holes on your favorite sweaters, blouses, and jackets.

If ignored, clothes moth larvae progress to the pupae stage, and homeowners may find their husk-like, tube-shaped cocoons (or casings) on clothes. The larvae eventually emerge as winged adults and continue the cycle of laying eggs and unraveling your wardrobe. Want to eliminate the infestation? The best course of action depends on the scale of damage. Read on to learn how to identify and treat moth damage, and find out how to get rid of moths in the closet for good.

Confirm the infestation.

Use a flashlight to inspect clothes (especially seams, cuffs, and collars), linens, and other fabrics stored in the closet. Search each item for randomly placed holes; these may range in size from small and round to large and irregularly shaped. Also scan the closet for adult moths, which are cream-colored to silver-brown with a quarter- to half-inch wingspan. Homeowners may also find pupae cocoons or casings, larvae (which look like white caterpillars), or eggs (which resemble cream-colored globes). Still unsure if you have a moth infestation? Buy some adhesive-lined moth traps, available for $10 to $15 at home centers, and place them in the closet; the artificial pheromones inside will lure and trap any adult moths fluttering nearby.

Bag and freeze individual moth-eaten items.

If you find a single damaged or moth-ridden item in the closet, use a broom to brush any visible moth remains into a dustpan. Immediately dispose of the remains outside, then remove the affected fabric from the closet. If it’s still salvageable, seal it in a Ziplock bag and store it in your freezer for 24 hours. The extreme cold will kill any active larvae. When a day passes, retrieve the item from the fridge, but leave it bagged until you’re ready to clean it (use the tips that follow to clean moth-eaten fabrics).


De-bug the closet if you spot widespread wardrobe damage.

Did you find moth holes or remains on multiple items? Then retrieve all clothes and fabrics (even those without visible damage) from the closet. Place salvageable pieces in a trash bag and seal it with twist ties until ready for cleaning. Likewise, move furnishings from the closet onto a tarp outside the room. Use a vacuum cleaner to eliminate moth remains from the closet floor, walls, and built-in shelves or rods. After you’re done, grab an old paintbrush and an odorless insecticide formulated with the active ingredient pyrethrum, chlorpyrifos, allethrin, or permethrin, such as Delta Dust Insecticide (view on Amazon). Apply the solution to closet wall cracks or crevices, shelf and baseboard edges, and below loose carpeting to kill any moths in the closet that land on these spots in the future.

Run machine washable fabrics through a hot water cycle.

Whether you discovered isolated or widespread damage, washing the affected fabrics in hot water is the best way to kill moths at all life stages. Check that the item’s care label recommends machine washing. If so, run the garment in a hot water cycle at a minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 20 minutes. Then machine-dry the garments at the hottest recommended temperature setting for at least 30 minutes. Shake out the dry item to loosen any trapped moth casings or cocoons, sweep these remains into a dustpan, and dispose of them outside.

Dry clean non-machine washable fabrics.

Some fabrics, such as delicates made of silk or wool, aren’t machine washable. In this case, dry clean the items at the hottest temperature setting recommended by the care label. This will kill moths in their egg, larvae, and pupae stages. Shake out the item to draw out any trapped moth casings or cocoons, then sweep these up and dispose of them outside.

Spray insecticide on oversized articles.

Now it’s time to deal with items too large to machine wash or dry clean, such as a closet floor rug. Spray a non-oil-based aerosol moth insecticide like Acana Carpet & Fabric Moth Killer (view on Amazon) in an inconspicuous location on the fabric. If no unwanted staining occurs, cover the rest of the fabric with the insecticide to kill moths on contact.

Either mend or dispose of moth-eaten items.

To restore salvageable moth-eaten fabrics, repair holes with a sewing machine and thread, then return the item to the closet. If the holes in the fabric are too large or numerous to be repaired, discard the item in a trash bag sealed with twist ties. Immediately dispose of the trash bag outside.


Prevent moths from returning.

Avoid a recurring moth infestation with these handy tips:

  • Vacuum your wardrobe’s floors and shelves weekly to eliminate dust, which attracts moths to the closet in the first place.
  • Wipe down closet walls, baseboards, clothes rods, and shelves every few months with a soft cloth and all-purpose cleaner.
  • Store only clean and dry fabrics in the closet; moths are also attracted to the odors, oil, and moisture in fabrics that are soiled with food or grime.
  • Store out-of-season clothes and linens in airtight containers where moths can’t reach them.
  • Instead of stacking in-season clothes, hang them on clothing rods. Store suits and dresses in resealable garment bags.
  • Line storage containers, closet shelves, and dresser drawers with mothballs or small drawstring bags full of moth-repellent dried herbs, such as rosemary, lavender, or thyme.
  • Replace wood closet furnishings with cedar equivalents, since the natural oils of cedar are powerful enough to kill moth larvae. Also consider lining furniture drawers with hamster bedding made of cedar shavings.
  • Run any clothes or linens bought secondhand through a hot water wash cycle (or dry clean them) before storing in the closet.