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How to get rid of clothes moths

how to get rid of clothes moths

If feeding holes suddenly appear in your favorite sweater, the reason is quickly found: an infestation with clothes moths can seriously affect the contents of the wardrobe. We explain how to get rid of clothes moths naturally.

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The clothes moth is actually harmless to humans, but its larvae can cause even greater damage so you need to know how to get rid of clothes moths. The clothes moth larvae need the fiber protein keratin to grow. This protein is not only part of our hair, but can also be found in wool, leather and fur in the wardrobe. Silk and down are also at risk.

Linen, cotton and synthetic fibers, on the other hand, are indigestible for the larvae of the clothes moth and therefore not affected. However, the larvae of the clothes moth like to use mixed fabrics to build their cocoons.

The clothes moth belongs to the real moth family. These include:

An adult clothes moth is between six and nine millimeters long . The wings are light yellow to dark brown and have a wingspan of ten to 15 millimeters. An adult female clothes moth can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. After 14 days the larvae hatch and start looking for food. 

The development from egg to butterfly takes between 60 days and several months for the clothes moth, depending on the environmental conditions. Up to four new generations are created every year. Adult clothes moths only have stunted mouthparts and die after two to three weeks. They only hatch to reproduce.about:blank

The development cycle of the clothes moth depends on the ambient temperature. Clothes moths also develop in winter, but then the cycle takes longer. This can give the impression that there are no clothes moths in winter. Nevertheless, clothes moths should also be fought in winter.

How to recognize a moth infestation

Contrary to popular belief, a lack of hygiene is not a cause of moth infestation. When clothes moths nestle in the closet, it is mainly because the food supply is right and there are many items of clothing made from animal materials in the closet.

An infestation with clothes moths can be recognized relatively easily. Clear signs are of course the traces of eating: If you suddenly discover fringed, circular holes in wool sweaters, silk blouses or other items of clothing with fibers of animal origin , there is often an infestation behind them and you need to understand how to get rid of clothes moths quickly before they do more damage. Adult animals flying around are another clear sign of a clothes moth infestation.

These areas are particularly at risk:

  • Warm, dark closets
  • Musty, unventilated containers
  • Unwashed clothes

The moths flying around are all males . The female clothes moths retreat to niches and cracks in the wardrobe to lay their eggs here. The larvae of the clothes moth need keratin in order to grow and thus provide the typical feeding marks.

In addition to clothing, upholstered furniture or home textiles can also be affected . Here the clothes moths infest both the cover and the animal hair stuffing that can still be found in many older pieces of furniture.

Mothballs deter clothes moths

A classic remedy against clothes moths are the well-known mothballs. Nevertheless, you should do without it: Many mothballs contain naphthalene, an extremely dangerous substance that can irritate the skin and the respiratory tract and damage the red blood cells . A carcinogenic effect cannot be ruled out either.

Other industrially produced moth poisons also contain neurotoxins that are dangerous for humans and can also damage the environment. Instead, it makes more sense and is more sustainable to use tried and tested home remedies against clothes moths .

Home remedies to get rid of clothes moths naturally

When using home remedies to combat clothes mottles, it’s often a matter of creating an environment that adult females avoid, or killing the animals and eggs without harming the environment or health.

  • Lavender : Bags with dried lavender flowers or lavender oil distributed in drops can help drive away clothes moths. The smell is unpleasant for the insects.
  • Stone pine : The smell of stone pine also has a deterrent effect on clothes moths. For example, fill a fabric bag with stone pine chips or place rings or balls made of stone pine in the wardrobe. Cedar wood has a similar effect.
  • Sunshine : As a preventive measure, regularly hang your clothes in direct sunlight for several hours. This drives away clothes moths and can even kill the eggs if you wrap the clothes in black foil beforehand.
  • Wash hot : Wash your clothes regularly at at least 60 degrees to kill the eggs of the clothes moth.
  • Vinegar water : Clean the wardrobe thoroughly on a regular basis by vacuuming every crack and then wiping the inside of the wardrobe with vinegar water. This is how you remove eggs that have already been laid; the vinegar smell also has a deterrent effect on the adult animals.
  • Cold : Delicate clothes that cannot be washed with hot water are frozen for at least a week to combat clothes moths. This method is also suitable for removing the clothes moth from pillows or cushions.
  • Activity: Regularly clear out the closet, ventilate and re-layer clothes to keep clothes moths away.
  • Plastic bags : Store expensive and sensitive clothing in well-sealed plastic bags or boxes so that the clothes moths cannot get to the item of clothing.

Tip: Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture thoroughly on a regular basis to remove hair and flakes of skin.

Parasitic wasps kill clothes moths

These home remedies can work against clothes moths. A particularly safe method of combating clothes moths is the use of ichneumon wasps.

Just like against food moths, parasitic wasps are very effective against clothes moths. The insects, which are only 0.4 millimeters in size, lay their eggs in the eggs of the clothes moth. Here the parasitic wasp larva eats the moth egg from the inside and prevents a larva from hatching.

As soon as the parasitic wasps can no longer find a source of food, they disappear on their own. To effectively combat the clothes moths, you should equip the closet with parasitic wasps several times in a row. By the way: parasitic wasps are also resistant to low temperatures and can therefore also be used in winter to fight clothes moths.

Pheromone traps for moths

The sticky traps with sex attractants only attract male clothes moths. The insects are attracted to the fragrances and stick to the glue layer. A pheromone trap remains effective for about three months.Important: Keep the windows closed in the affected room when using glue traps to avoid attracting clothes moths from outside.

Pheromone traps are unsuitable for combating clothes moths on their own , but they can be used to detect a moth infestation in the wardrobe. In combination with parasitic wasps , they can also help to fight clothes moths.

In the event of severe moth infestation and if the above remedies against clothes moths are ineffective, you should contact an exterminator. This is especially true if not only clothing but also upholstered furniture are affected.