Keeping Moths Away From Your Clothes Takes More Than Mothballs

Our Texas insect expert answers common questions about bugs.

By Laura RiceFebruary 7, 2018 7:20 am,

Moths can ruin perfectly good outfits, even if you’ve tried to protect your clothes. Wizzie Brown, an insect specialist with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office has some tips about how to keep moths at bay.

On what clothes moths like to eat:

They typically are not going to feed on synthetic fibers, but sometimes they will if there is grease – if you’re eating a nice, juicy cheeseburger and you get grease on your shirt….But usually they’re going to go into natural fibers, so things like cotton, or furs, or feathers, or silk.

On how to clean up clothes moths;

If it’s just your clothes, you can either launder or dry clean it. Clean out the area – that means take everything out of your closet. Wipe everything down with a cleaning solution..and you can vacuum any of the larvae up.  You can certainly do a pesticidal treatment in the closet. Again, make sure everything is out, and then once everything is dry in there, you can put your stuff back in.

On how to clean rugs:

You can either have those dry cleaned, or you can hang them out in the sun and vacuum them real well.

On how to protect stored items from moths:

If you are one of those people that have wool sweaters, you can store them properly. Make sure that they’re clean before they go into storage, and make sure that you have an airtight, sealed container to store those things in. A lot of people like putting in essential oils. It smells good, but there is no research that says it’s going to keep insects away from it.

On what mothballs do:

Those are going to be a fumigant that you can put in with the clothes. But they have the downside of giving of the nasty smell. And if they come into contact with plastic, they can actually cause it to soften and melt, and that can get onto the clothes and cause damage.

Learn more about dealing with moths by listening in the player above.