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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Do You Have Moths in Your Home??

Now that the weather is changing and it’s time to pull out our sweaters and winter coats, beware of moths. I’m talking about the moths that thrive on wardrobes full of cashmere, wool, fur and other fabrics made from animal hair. Fabric-eating moths are attracted to damp areas, so if you store your clothing in a humid area, your cashmere is at risk of being eaten and ruined. Get rid of the moths, then take further preventative measures to ensure they do not return.

Cleanliness is the first and best line of defense, because dirty clothes are often what attract moths in the first place. Moth eggs, larvae and adult moths can all be killed by a hot-water wash cycle or by dry cleaning. One of the worst things you can do is to wear a sweater a few times at the end of the season, and then leave it in your closet all summer. 

The most common way moths get into closets is through a single infested item. (If you just bought a vintage sweater at a second-hand shop, have it dry cleaned before putting it away.)

It’s a common misconception that adult moths eat fabric. It is their larvae, half-inch caterpillars that spend their roughly 10-day-long life cycle fattening up on the contents of your closet, which leave those telltale holes.

There are plenty of ways to protect your clothes without spending too much money.

  • Wash everything before you put it in your closet, especially if it is something that has been worn before or something you have purchased from a secondhand store.

  • Line your closet or storage area with cedar wood. This is the one of the best ways to keep moths away.

  • Keep your favorite clothes in cold storage if possible. A cold attic during winter may prove an inhospitable  environment for moths because larvae don't grow in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Clean your closet and drawers regularly. Remove all the items from the closet area, and vacuum everything. Removing any lint on the floor or in drawers deprives larvae of food sources. Store all cleaned clothes in sealed plastic bags.

  •   Mothball fumes are only effective in a sealed container, Putting them throughout a closet won’t kill moths, and will cause headaches for you, literally.  Airtight containers are, in fact, the only way to make sure the fume concentrations are high enough to be effective.
  •  Fill tea bags or fabric pouches with essential oils and herbs that repel moths. These include: Lavender, rosemary, mint, thyme, cloves, peppercorn, lemon and eucalyptus. Place these bags in several areas of your closet or storage space to repel fabric-eating moths.

  •  Ventilate your storage area, particularly if it is a humid space such as a basement

  • Use sticky moth traps, which contain moth pheromones and will attract moths to them. Place these traps in your closet or clothes drawer.

The best defense is to clean your clothes before returning them to your closet. Wash your clothes in the hottest water they can tolerate.
Take clothes that are dry-clean only to Railroad Cleaners. If you are unable to clean all of your clothes, at least take your wool, cashmere, leather or any other animal-based type of material and have them cleaned. If you have an infestation and have to clean your whole wardrobe let us know. We can work out payment arrangements.

Those who go with the traditional mothball option should be aware that “you’re storing your clothes with a pesticide,” often naphthalene, “Yes, the pesticide can kill the moths, but when you take a look at these ingredients, they’re classified as possible carcinogens, and show negative health effects from inhalation.”

The Cleaning Lady
2195 Railroad Ave 
Pittsburg, CA 94565

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