How To Combat Clothes Moths: Our 5-step Guide

Where do clothes moths come from?

It might come as a surprise to learn that the moth itself does not cause the damage, but the larvae, which feed on natural fibres such as cashmere, wool, and silk. They thrive in undisturbed corners of our wardrobes that are dark and warm, and are attracted to surface debris on clothes such as food, hair, or skin particles. 

How do you get rid of clothes moths?

Start by removing everything from your wardrobe and clean all surfaces and drawers in the space. Then wash all of your clothes in the affected area, ideally with an anti-moth product, followed by an anti-moth treatment. Repair any moth-holes and store in your wardrobe with lavender or sandalwood as natural moth repellents. Keep your absolute favourites in moth-proof bags for peace of mind.

Follow our full 5-step guide to achieve a moth-free wardrobe in no time. 

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1) Clear out 

A disorganised and cluttered wardrobe is a key factor in attracting clothes moths;  hence the pile of clothes lurking at the back of the wardrobe is a haven for moths to thrive.

As a first step, take everything out from your wardrobe and thoroughly check over each garment for damage. Clothes moths are attracted to natural fibres such as cashmere and silk, but have been known to feast on other fabrics too.

You will be able to identify moth-related damage easily; this tends to appear in a small cluster of holes (generally smaller than a £2 coin), typically on the front or sleeves where debris is more likely to reside. Put any damaged garments to one side and see step 4 for more information on what to do next. 

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2) Clean 

Moth larvae feed on dust, hair (human and pet!), dead skin cells, and any other surface debris. In order to prevent any further or future damage to your clothing, it is important to keep all clothing and your wardrobe space clean.

Vacuum and clean all areas inside your wardrobe and drawers with a light detergent to kill off any residual moth larvae. 

Next, wash all your garments in the area affected by clothes moths. You might find that wool, cashmere and silk items are labelled as dry clean only, and dry cleaning chemicals certainly do help eliminate clothes moths. However we recommend considering hand washing as a more gentle, better value alternative on items which do not have embellishments, pleating, tailoring or padding. Click here to read more about what can and can't be washed at home. 

Clothes Doctor Cashmere Wash

We wash our wool, cashmere and silk items by hand with Clothes Doctor's Wool & Cashmere Wash or Silk Wash, and they come out super soft and smelling great.

Our products are an all-natural alternative to dry cleaning and contain essential oils such as sandalwood and patchouli, which will keep clothes moths at bay.

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3) Treat

We recommend freezing as an all-natural anti-moth treatment to destroy clothes moths, larvae, and eggs; it's best to avoid using toxic products as these can be transferred onto skin and cause irritation.

Freezing is an alternative method that is both odour and chemical-free. Place your garments in air-tight moth-proof bags and tightly seal, pressing out any air from the bag. Freeze garments for at least 48 hours, and up to 2 weeks for full effect.

You could also try requesting an anti-moth treatment from us which places items in moth-proof bags in our industrial freezer to eliminate moths. 

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4) Repair 

Repairing any damage as soon as possible is the best way to prevent the holes from increasing in size when worn (especially holes on sleeves). The traditional fix for moth-holes is a darning technique, which involves a delicate weave in a matching fabric to repair the hole. Request a repair.

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5) Store

Correct storage of your items can save you time and money invested in moth-related damage. It's important that you don't reintroduce any clothing back into your wardrobe space until its clean, and any damaged items have been repaired and treated. 

We recommend lining your drawers with anti-moth paper and adding cedarwood balls or natural fragrance bags with your clothes, as these act as a natural moth deterrent.

It is worth noting that vintage items are more likely to attract moths as they will inherently carry more debris and dirt than newer items; ensure these are kept clean and store separately if necessary. If you are planning on storing items away for a longer period, ziplock air-tight bags are most effective at protecting garments. 

Overall, it is also important to keep your wardrobe clean and tidy, and ventilated if possible - and avoid the temptation to throw clothes in after every wear!

To summarise, clothes moths can be tackled with these 5 easy steps: clear out, clean, treat, repair, and store. Feel free to contact us on workshop@clothes-doctor.com if you'd like any advice. 

We have specifically created an Anti-Moth Package to target clothes moths and help you create and maintain a moth-free wardrobe. Click here to find out more. 

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