How To Keep Moths On Their Toes – And Out Of Your Clothes

It’s a wise woman who thinks about protecting her clothes – in particular precious cashmere, wool and silk, which are all moth favourites – at this time of year. But how do you keep moths on their toes? Well, a great start is to read these effective prevention tips…


How do moths get into my wardrobe?

The two most common ways moths get into your house are via the purchase of a garment or product already contaminated with eggs or larvae, such as a vintage item of clothing. The second way is as a result of adult clothes moths from a neighbouring property flying in through an open window.

Why do moths like natural fibres?

Moth larvae feed on a protein called ceratin. Ceratin occurs in natural fibres – wool, cashmere, feathers, silks, cottons and linens. They love to find a quiet, warm and undisturbed fold of fibre in which to lay their eggs and feed on skin and hair particles left behind from wearing clothes.

What to look out for

Scan your wardrobes and clothes drawers looking for small holes in woollens and silks in particular. Make sure you check thoroughly looking under lapels, underarms and in trouser turn ups. Look also for small white furry patches, about the size of a large pin head slightly resembling a cobweb. This is the larvae about to hatch. Go through your laundry cupboard checking sheets and woollen blankets, especially if you keep your linens in an airing cupboard.

What to do if you find evidence of moths

Deep clean your storage. Open up your wardrobes and chests of drawers, take the clothes out and give them a good shake. This will deter any adult moths that may be in there. Vacuum the space thoroughly and wash down with soap and water. Soak a couple of drops of essential Lavender Oil into a duster or cloth and wipe the inside of the wardrobe or drawers, taking care to get into the corners and hinges.

Any clothing you find with traces of moth damage should be cleaned immediately. Try using a couple of drops of Lavender Oil in the softener compartment of your washing machine or the final rinse of a handwash. This will impregnate the fibre of your clothing with the scent which the moths loathe.

For items you cannot machine or handwash, take them to the dry cleaners. Moths hate the smell of dry cleaning fluids too so this will help prevent them from returning. Always take your clothes out of the dry cleaning plastic hanging bags – the plastic attracts dust and the dust attracts moths.

Freeze anything you can fit on your freezer shelves for 48 hours; sub-zero temperatures kill larvae, although make sure you put clothes in plastic bags prior to freezing to avoid a condensation build-up.

Steam is very effective in killing moth larvae if you have a handheld steamer.

Prevention is key

An important rule of thumb is to keep the moths on their toes and don’t give them time to settle and lay eggs. No insect likes to be disturbed. If you see a woollen item in your wardrobe or linen cupboard that has not been worn or used for a while, get it out and give it a once over to check for any signs of their presence.

Keep rooms well-ventilated as temperatures start to rise.

Moth cassettes Rentokil’s fragrance-free moth cassettes are also a good precautionary measure; keep them hanging on your rail (from £5 at Amazon).

Pheromones Read why pheramones work against moths here. Buy moth traps and pheromone glue boards here

Never put away any woollens once they have been worn – even if only once. Apparently this is the single biggest mistake people make. Moths thrive on the skin and hair particles left behind. Old sweat and liquid spillages provide a perfect feeding site for the hungry hatchlings. If you want to wear an item again, keep it on a hanger on, for example, the back of a door.


Store your knitwear in garment bags As summer beckons, store winter knits and any other items you particularly value in storage bags which moths cannot get through.

Linen spray Fab fragrance. I have been using this for years and would hate to be without it. Will not stain your clothes. Natural anti-moth linen spray May Chang Blend

Cedarwood hangers Moths hate them, and they’ll keep the shoulders on your dresses and jackets neat, too. Pack of 10

Essential lavender oil can be purchased from Etsy MORE INFO

Essential lavender oil

Lots more really useful information in our Wellbeing section