Clothes moth infestations are on the rise in the UK thanks to a mild winter and early spring and numbers have doubled in the last five years.
Moth larvae eat their way through natural materials such as cotton, silk, and wool, and have a preference for finer fibres such as cashmere. They can cause significant damage to clothing if not discovered and eradicated quickly.
So how can you stop these pests from devouring your wardrobe?
1. Store out of season clothing in plastic boxes with tight lids or vacuum bags. You should also store spare bedding in this way, away from your clothes. Make sure items are clean before storing and check seams and folds for any evidence of infestation.
2. Keep your home scrupulously clean. Vacuum carpets regularly and make sure to clean dust behind and under furniture. Once a month take all clothing out of your wardrobe and shake it out. Use a vacuum to clean inside cupboards, particularly around the sides and in the corners.
3. Get rid of clothing you don’t wear. Throw away or donate items that are cluttering up your wardrobe, particularly if they’re made from cotton, wool, silk, fur, or feathers.
4. Regularly check and clean upholstery. Moths also live in upholstery material, particularly wool or horsehair. Check underneath upholstered furniture for signs of infestation (larvae webbing or cases) and vacuum regularly, paying particular attention to crevices and around piping.
5. Have chimneys professionally cleaned. As well as making their homes in your wardrobe, open chimneys can also provide a welcoming home for clothes moths. Have any unused flues and open chimneys cleaned by a professional once a year.
6. Remove carpet in the bottom of wardrobes and airing cupboards. A carpeting wardrobe is the ideal habitat for clothes moths. If you can’t remove it, make sure it is vacuumed regularly.
7. Hang lavender bags in your wardrobe. Lavender is a natural pest repellent and also makes your clothes smell much nicer than mothballs (which are highly toxic). You can also wipe down the inside of cupboards and drawers with a cloth and a few drops of lavender essential oil
8. Never put blankets or bedding that has been used away without washing it first. Moths love fabric with sweat stains or skin particles and prefer to lay their eggs in dirty areas. Make sure any clothing or bedding is freshly washed before you put it away, even if it still smells fresh.
9. Check clothing regularly for signs of damage. If you find holes or the actual eggs or larvae themselves, either throw out the item or wash it at at least 60 degrees to kill the moths. For delicate items, putting them in a bag in the freezer for at least 12 hours will achieve the same thing.
10. Thoroughly clean vintage or second-hand clothing before storing. Pre-owned clothing is more likely to be infested and you could inadvertently introduce the pests into your own wardrobe. Make sure everything you buy is washed at 60 degrees to kill off any larvae that may be lurking.