how to get rid of clothes moths & live a better life

Mar 21, 2012 by

Image via interiorod.blogspot.ca

On the Spring Equinox, I have my own ritual to celebrate the turning of the seasons. I call it, affectionately, Moth Patrol and I do it at the beginning of each new season.

It’s the weekend that I go through most of my personal belongings in search of evidence of moths. This is what I do:

1) Take everything out of my closet and examine each piece for holes or traces of moths. I look for casings (the larvae cocoon left behind when it hatches into a moth), eggs, dead moths. I keep my eyes open for living moths, although rarely do I see them.

2) If I find any piece of clothing with evidence of moths on it, it goes into one of two piles: for the laundromat, or for drycleaning. After moth patrol, I take the piles to the appropriate place.

3) Spritz cedar essential oil (mixed with lavender or a little orange) on everything. There’s only anecdotal evidence that cedar is effective, and I feel intuitively that it’s useless, but it smells nice and makes me feel better, so it’s part of the ritual.

4) Empty drawers, searching for aforementioned signs (particularly my precious lingerie drawer, full of bras and silk teddys).

5) Vacuum. Everything. Every little crack and seam in my floorboards. Then empty vacuum bag (since eggs are hearty and can hatch inside).

In the beginning

It’s been exactly a year since I began my battle against moths. I’m sure there are quicker and easier ways to get rid of them, but I have cats and generally prefer to breathe non-toxic air.

I saw the first moth flutter through my living room on an autumn afternoon a year and a half ago. Then I saw another. I pulled a big wooly sweater out of my closet and found a hole in an odd place. Then I found the same thing on (my favourite) sweater dress. And when I pulled a pair of mittens (that I had knitted myself) out of my winter things sac and discovered huge holes, I knew I had a problem.

I read almost everything on the internet about moths, finding a lot of conflicting and possibly inaccurate information (Pest Control Canada was the best resource). I hung out on forums and read blog posts about others’ experiences. “Fabric pest detection requires a thorough knowledge of pest biology and behavior,” I learned in an article called How to Kill and Get Rid of Clothes Moths. The first thing I learned is that it’s not the moths themselves that eat holes in clothing – it’s their larvae, which feed on natural fibres (wool, but also cotton, silk, leather; pet hair, as well) for the keratin protein.

On the weekend before the 2011 Spring Equinox, I cleaned everything out of my single closet (a weird long closet with two doors, one in my bedroom and one in the living room, which when empty, allow it to function as a little tunnel between the rooms). I examined every piece of clothing for holes and signs of moths (casings, eggs, larvae excrement). And I found plenty. I was especially worried about my collection of mostly wool vintage dresses. I relieved to find them intact, although I did end up throwing out a bag full of infested clothes.

Getting to the source

It’s difficult to nail down exactly where the moths came from, but I suspect the culprit was a fur coat that I found on the street in my neighbourhood, brought home (potential Halloween costume!) and shoved in my closet. Without ever wearing it. There was something about the coat that gave me the creeps.

But the hanging clothes in my closet were the least of my concerns. A bigger issue was all the other stuff piled up in my closet: a shopping bag full of yarn and knitting supplies; a pillow with a knit cover, covered in cat hair; an old blanket; shoes, purses and shoulder bags.

I pulled everything out of the closest, wiped down all the big items (even non-fabrics, like some shelves made of wood, because moths can lay eggs in dustballs and clumps of animal hair) and vacuumed along the baseboards and the cracks in the hardwood floor. I threw away anything that felt dubious (including the fur coat and most of my knitting stash). I developed a finely tuned moth evidence radar.

Then I wiped down the empty closet space and spritzed it with a cedar essential oil blend (even if it is useless, it lifts my spirits and feels just a little bit aggressive). I checked my drawers and was relieved to find no evidence of moths. My shoe/coat shelving by my front door was vulnerable (moths love wool – hats, mitts, scarves – and leather – most of my shoes).

I vacuumed every pair of shoes and boots, threw away some elbow pads that I’d acquired during my brief roller derby career, and went through the dreaded wooly bits bag (where I’d found the original mittens with holes). I feared I’d find a festering clump of larvae in the bottom of the bag, but it was nothing like that. But everything in that bag was washed and dried thoroughly.

I let the closet sit empty for a few days, to air out; I hung some clothes on the back porch, where the minus 20 air would kill any remaining eggs and larvae. I packed the more high-risk woolens to the dry cleaners, and I washed many, many loads of clothes at my neighbourhood laundromat.

After the great unexpected spring clean, my house felt clean and contained. I could stop imagining unseen bugs chewing up my favourite dresses and sweaters. I felt like I’d been aired out, cleansed in some way. But I also knew that I couldn’t feel complacent. I had learned enough about moths to know that they’re cyclical, that I may not see any adults flying around and there may be eggs, which I’d missed, coming to fruition and larvae feasting on my clothing.

Cycles of disruption

All was well for a few months. Then, in mid-summer, I saw a moth. Then another. I went through drawers that I had examined four months earlier and thought were moth-free, only to find casings and other evidence. I did more laundry, cleaned more, spritzed more cedar oil and placed cedar shavings. I installed pheromone traps to catch male moths and try to break the cycle.

I decided that regular patrolling of my belongings was in order, and I chose the quarterly seasonal change as the time to do it. The Autumn Equinox was my first official moth patrol, in which I took on the deep clean and close inspection of my closet. Opening doors and shuffling clothes around awakens dormant moths and disturbs larvae and eggs.

The interesting thing is, in the four seasons that have passed since my first moth cleanse, I’ve felt more connected to the cycles of life. As a busy urbanite, I pay little attention to the changing seasons and cycles of nature. I have few ways to mark the changes, yet my seasonal Moth Patrol has given me a reason to pay attention.

Cleaning out my closets and monitoring the life cycles of moths is the closest I get to tilling the fields, planting seeds and watching crops grow. Of course, the symbolism of the closet isn’t lost on me. Each time I open the closet and trudge through my belongings, I feel like I am digging into the subterranean corners of my psyche. I feel like I’m confronting my own stuff that I’ve shoved away, to be dealt with later; it’s an opportunity to reflect on what pests are eating away at me and what unnecessary ideas and concepts are slowly germinating.

Lessons from the moths

The moths have also been an interesting practice of diligence. I can’t be complacent. I can’t assume that just because I haven’t seen a moth in six weeks, there are no larvae nibbling on my silk lingerie. What I’ve learned is that things may seem okay on the surface (e.g., there may be no moths around), there can still be something festering below.

The moths have helped me develop a strange balance of attachment/non-attachment with my material possessions. When I do my seasonal clean of my closet, I handle each piece of clothing, reminisce about the last time I wore it, think about favourite memories, and just appreciate the item for what it is. I take care of my clothing better than I ever have. Everything is obsessively laundered, my closet is neatly organized, I store my winter things in airtight containers, I’ve created efficient systems of prioritizing and wearing my clothes.

My cramped urban apartment feels refreshed and cleansed after Moth Patrol. Although the moth evidence was slight, I will go through the whole process again in three months, in parallel with the Summer Solstice. The cycle continues, and I play my small part in it.

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62 Comments

  1. Jana

    I too had a problem with carpet deals and clothes moths. Something that works for me for items that couldn’t be dry cleaned or laundered was to put them in the deep freezer. We have one in our garage that would never use so I packed it full of items that I thought were affected. I felt crazy putting my handbags and shoes in the freezer but I left it there for a week and then I took it out and let it thaw and then I put it back in for another week and it seemed to work. I then vacuumed my shoes and handbags just to be sure. I found that advice on a few websites. Although one website suggested taking it out thawing it and putting it back in because it said that not just a cold will kill the larva-it was the quick variation in temperature that is supposed to kill them not the cold by itself. I’m not sure how true that is but if it was overkill better to be safe than sorry! Best of luck to you!

  2. Corrin

    I have heard that if you put 2-5 pounds of dry ice in your closet (dependeing on the size) and seal it up with tape. Leave it for about a week, and then come back and unseal the closet and vacum it out really good and it should kill all of the moths, larva, ect.. and it does not harm the clothes or shoes.

  3. June

    Hi Corrine,

    Have you tried the dried ice in your closet?? I wonder if that works? I’m just crazed at this point. I think I’m goin to call an exterminator.

  4. Lee in Iowa

    Cedar works because it gives off Phenol, very poisonous to moths (and would be to us and our pets, in greater quantities).

    Being a thrifty sort, I buy a big bale of shaved cedar bedding at a pet store, then scoop it into old thin pillow cases, which I put throughout my closets and my other storage areas for wool, silk, and linen clothing.

    For pantry moths (which can and do eat through ziplock & other plastic bags, eat the boxes and box glue for fun, lay eggs in the tiniest cracks in the pantry, and somehow easily sneak into tins as well), I throw out everything, vacuum the heck out of my pantry, wipe with vinegar and water solution, then ONLY store my box or bag goods in glass canning jars with metal lids. (Need directions off the bag/box? Just snip ‘em off and tape ‘em to the outside of your jar.) Freezing in a deep freeze (down to zero, not the 30 degrees of a regular freezer) does work to kill “incoming.”

  5. I have a moth problem, we keep finding the odd hole in our clothes and during the summer I have about 22 of them over 4 months. I have washed all the clothes at 60 degrees, cleaned everything, but the thing that’s bothering me is that I cannot find the source of the problem, all our carpets are fine and there is no moth damage, not even under furniture and I have even looked under the carpets. I was going to replace all the carpets this year and have the floorboards fumigated but I am not sure that’s where they are coming from, any ideas as I am stumped! thanks maralin

    • have you cleaned out your closets and drawers? when i did my first big moth clean-up, i found the “nest” in my knitting! another source was a cat pillow that had ended up in the bottom of my closet floor.

      make sure you don’t have any boxes of blankets or winter hats/scarves stashed away. moths thrive in environments that are dark and undisrupted, so they could be lurking in unlikely places. good luck!

  6. I’m going through a similar process myself, and like you I have lots of yarn and vintage wool items and all sorts of things they might try and munch on.

    I wonder what you found in your research about leather shoes and handbags? I threw out all eaten/infested clothing, washed all machine washables in hot water followed by a hot dry, and took all dry cleanables to a green dry cleaner.

    Now I’m puzzling over what to do with the shoes and handbags. The moths didn’t actually eat them, but were certainly living in them and they’re full of casings/etc. I vacuumed them but wonder what else I could do to feel secure…

    • hi mikhaela ~ i’ve heard people suggest freezing shoes and handbags (for a month or longer), to kill the larvae and eggs.

      i include my shoes and handbags on my regular moth patrol, to make sure they haven’t been reinfested.

  7. Audrey

    Hi,
    We have a moth infestation – it’s not as bad as it was at one point but we’ve decided to bite the bullet and wash / dry clean everything and get back to zero moths.
    What i’m wondering is, do you think we’d be successful using dryel(dryer dry cleaning) to clean items? the rest we’ll do in hot water, but I am having a hard time grappling with dry cleaning 200+ items since the cost will be so high.
    We are working with a service where once everything is either sealed or moved out of the apartment, they will spray our handbags, shoes and closets with an organic chemical that is derived from a chrysanthemum plant – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrethrin We were told this would be nontoxic for our cats.
    Any advice or thoughts on Dryel would be very helpful.
    Best,
    Audrey

  8. Elizabeth

    Audrey, I am in the same boat. Today I did 9 loads of laundry alone, and threw out so many previous items of clothing I was in tears. My goal is to vacuum seal all clean clothes until both my clothes and coats closets are emptied and wiped down with bleach and then cedar oil. I’ve been dealing with these little bastards for a year now and it’s an uphill battle. I got cedar balls and planks and found the moths actually sitting on them, as if to mock me! What is the service you are speaking of? I’d like to know more! Thanks and good luck everyone!

    • I’m keeping all my washed clothes in bags But there still getting on them there even on my leather sofa inside the cushions, I have a 12mth old and even her clean clothes have been affected. Since havin my daughter i’ve gained a little weight and have 2 cuboards full of clothes pre-Baby and i’m keeping all my clothes the babys and hubbys all in blacks bags until i get round to washing them. The thing is when i wash my clothes there getting infected straight away again i can’t keep spraying the baby’s clothes with insecticide I haven’t got a dryer i rely on good auld wet Scottish Weather to dry the clothes, I think the eggs are on the walls and ceiling its like one day they all hatched with the central heating i think they were here before i moved in just waiting for a bad day YES!! Her washing machine has broke down.. I’m in tears I spend all day with tweezers looking through clothes it’s time consuming time that should be spent with my baby I feel like just burning every thing including the house and it’s january and freezing i don’t even think that would kill them?

      • tonykeywest

        Poor Leanne. Dont stress. Regular cleaning should be enough to get rid of the moths. Storing cloths in air tight containers and regular vacuuming. Freezing clothes for two weeks is supposed to do the trick too. Just thank God its moths and not something worse.

    • I’m keeping all my washed clothes in bags But there still getting on them there even on my leather sofa inside the cushions, I have a 12mth old and even her clean clothes have been affected. Since havin my daughter i’ve gained a little weight and have 2 cuboards full of clothes pre-Baby and i’m keeping all my clothes the babys and hubbys all in blacks bags until i get round to washing them. The thing is when i wash my clothes there getting infected straight away again i can’t keep spraying the baby’s clothes with insecticide I haven’t got a dryer i rely on good auld wet Scottish Weather to dry the clothes, I think the eggs are on the walls and ceiling its like one day they all hatched with the central heating i think they were here before i moved in just waiting for a bad day YES!! Her washing machine has broke down.. I’m in tears I spend all day with tweezers looking through clothes it’s time consuming time that should be spent with my baby I feel like just burning every thing including the house and it’s january and freezing i don’t even think that would kill them? Iv’e also been stung with them they dive bomb off the ceiling like tiny arrows and can stick into your skin like a seed i have red marks all over my neck they’re like needles hitting you from the ceiling maybe they are mutating I dont think im alone they seem to be getting like a epidemic i know now im not crazy.

      • Carrie

        I have the same problem.infind them in my bed and they sting me while I sleep.not sure what to do because they are also in my leather couch.indomnot want to use chemicals.did you solve the problem let me know.inlive in a city so that is strange

  9. Lane

    Hi there,
    I too suddenly have a closet full of moths. I have bought some resale clothes recently and am thinking that they may have come in that way? A question for you guys… Is it okay to freeze leather? I have some nice leather pieces and I am wondering if they would be damaged… know that’s a weird question because leather is a natural material….
    Thanks, Lane

  10. Michelle

    I keep finding holes in clothing hanging in closets and drawers. However I don’t see any moths. Not one.

    Recently moved into a new apartment and notices all of my shoes are falling apart. I’ve had these shoes for years with no problems. All of a sudden cracks and glued soles not sticking.

    Any thoughts?

    • hi michelle ~ if you’re finding holes in your things, it’s likely that you have moths. you may not see them, but they can be hard to notice, as they come out at night and tend to like dark corners. try getting a couple of pheromone traps and see if they catch any. in my experience, the traps catch many more moths than i ever see.

      as for your shoe problem, i don’t know. probably nothing to do with the moths. good luck!

    • Sherry Clark

      Your shoes coming unglued. Mine too,Yep same problem as you. Could we have 2 kinds of monsters. I read mites do the same thing.

      • tonykeywest

        Book lice eat the glue in wallpaper and book bindings and could probably eat the glue in your shoes. I brought some wheat in from the field and stored it in the closet and it spoiled and I found book lice every where. I sprinkled some diatomaceous earth around. Diatomaceous earth will kill any bug, larvae or egg it comes in contact with. It is non toxic and safe. Some people complain of respiratory irritation but I did not have a problem. You can order it online.

  11. Sophie

    I have been finding little holes in a few of my t-shirts. It’s the t-shirts I wear often and are never left in the back of the closet.

    I thought it was my washer at first, something stuck in my drum! I bought a new washer a few month ago and still found myself having the same problem.

    I have just cleaned all my wardrobe out, washed every item of clothing I have and cleaned all inside of my wardrobe with disinfectant.

    The problem is driving me insane.

    Would it be best to throw out the tops that have the holes in? And could the eggs and larvae still be on other items of clothing without the holes in?

    PLEASE HELP!!!

  12. Lori

    Hi!
    I had a huge moth problem a couple of years ago and I went full on and dry cleaned everything and threw out anything else. I even put all of my clothes in the freezer afterwards. I changed my carpets and cleaned my walls and drawers with swiffer, let everything sit for a day or two and then hired a cleaning lady to help me with cleaning baseboards, headboards, window sills, everything!

    Guess what?

    3 years later and I still have moths!!!!

    I’ve discovered not to put ANYTHING on the floor of my closet AT ALL. Shoes are the worst, they get into the insoles and can lay eggs there. I have two cats and am vacuuming almost every day.
    Still have moths.
    Cedar doesn’t work because it needs to be locked up with the cedar so that the cedar oil gets to the source.

    Sophie, put everything in the freezer or get it dry cleaned. It might be likely that if you wear something with holes in it, there are still larvae lurking.

    Finding live larvae is the WORST! They creep me out but alas, I am still always looking and always finding.

    The only solution is to have a professional come into your home and heat it to 140 degrees. that will kill everything.

  13. Carol in AZ

    I have sympathy for all of you who are going through this horrible problem with webbing clothes moths. I don’t see any comments about other problems besides destroying clothes.

    Have any of you experienced problems with your walls, baseboards, and doors getting destroyed with holes & slash marks dug into the drywall?

    And as a third problem, what about the physical PAIN the larva causes when one of those lint-hairball nest looking things takes a jab at your skin? I was watering plants the other night when I felt multiple stings below my knee. The burn was stronger than usual because it turned out to be a scorpion on the inside of my pant leg & it stung me several times. My point is that the pain from the sting of a scorpion wasn’t much greater than what I receive on an ongoing routine from the moth larva. Both of my feet and ankles have been stung so often that they have been constantly numb for over a year.

    The multiple physical problems from the moths are my greatest concern, not just for me, but for my two dogs and cat as well. Before I started washing AND rinsing every piece of clothing that touches me, in 140+ hot water AND ironing every single item I wear, on the highest heat possible, both inside & outside, I would break out in an extremely painful rash with bright red welts from the seam of a blouse, or pants that had moth nesting lint and larva in various places. It isn’t really noticeable unless you actually inspect it, checking under the tags and around the button-holes and inside pockets.

    I feel like I am living in the Twilight Zone. I have had three different Exterminating companies at my house to look at the problems with holes in my drywall and other damage as well.

    Apparently moths that destroy clothes, furniture, drywall and finishing trim, just for starters, is not a common occurence here in AZ. Even most of my friends don’t really believe that my life could be so turned upside down from ‘a few tiny moths’, Not one of the three Exterminators could assess what the cause of the damage to the house was and informed me that it is illegal for them to aggressively treat the problem without knowing what it is they are trying to get rid of.

    I have talked to additional Exterminators and they say they cannot control moths, because they fly.The male moths fly, that is. The females just hop around on the ground and lay eggs.

    If anyone has experienced this problem to this extent, I would greatly appreciate any information you can give me. What’s very disturbing to me is that I have learned through this ongoing moth problem, that the majority of people who are ignorant of such things, choose to stay that way, not making an effort to research any of this info, which is so plentiful and available on all of the search engines. To my surprise, the usual response I get from most people (not all) who I discuss this with, say that I need to get more sleep, or they sort of chuckle and roll their eyes, as if to say I’m crazy!

    When professional, trained Exterminators patronize me and make no effort to educate themselves about how real this problem is, it is a very depressing and frightful experience for me because I am worried that I will not get the help I need to get rid of this problem. This has changed my life and basically has taken over my life with the many, many hours required every day, seven days a week, to vacuum the entire house, the dogs, boil several pots of water to mix with bleach to clean all counters and living area, and continually spray inside and outside harmful pesticides, I really do feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone and have many photos and videos of everything I have mentioned here, and more, including a video of the larva spinning like a maniac on one of the clothing items I threw out.

    • hi carol ~ i’m so sorry to hear about your situation. i’ve never heard of clothes moths that destroy drywall or larvae that sting. perhaps there’s some kind of mutant strain that thrives in hot and dry climates?

      i wish i could offer more than empathy, but i’ve never had this kind of experience. maybe others will come forward and comment on this post (which seems to have become a forum for people frustrated with clothes mothes!). good luck and i hope you find a solution.

      • Hi Carol, Roseanne. It’s hard to find good sites on moths since they normally tend to be ‘Help! I have a problem’ or exterminators marketing their service. I moved into a new build six years ago in September, have few woolen clothes and one woolen rug. My last flat had a very serious infestation and I dread to think what I brought with me since my Landlord wasn’t that interested, Anyway, I’ve been super vigilant and only lost a few sweaters that I accidentally put away dirty. Now that we’ve had our first decent dry spell for as long as I can remember, I’m doing a long overdue spring clean (deep/industrial even) and I’m finding evidence of moth larvae everywhere and by all accounts they’ve been causing me a skin problem on my hands and irritating me elsewhere. I think this is probably one side that people may be less aware of. So I hope going forward, once I finish, to be happy, healthy and hygienic!

    • Hi Carol Your not mad or crazy iv’e got the same problem mine are on the ceiling and they dive bomb down to get on your clothes carpets ect I have a 12 mth old and there going on her clothes i can’t keep putting insecticide on her clothes after there washed all the clothes are lying about in black bags untill i get round to clean them, But all i seem to do is recycle them and they have bit me and yes my hubby thinks i’m going mad to because they do just look like lint i sit for hours with tweezers pulling them off the seams they even go inside the fabric and do some thing to it cause wene you pull it its like a grey hair that you pull out but i never seem to find any thing else they also stick out the fabric like tiny pins i think mine where here before i moved in and the central set them off once you know what your looking for thats it i’m like a woman posesed with tweezers and a magnifying glass but its so time consuming i could be doing other things like spending time with my wee girl..

    • tonykeywest

      Carol.

      Last year I had an infestation of some kind of bug in my apartment that turned out to be book lice which I brought in on some wheat from outside. I didnt sleep for a week. I would wake up soon after falling asleep and take a flash light and some sticky tape and go hunting thru my bed for bugs- and every time I looked,I found some. I washed every bit of bedding and clothing in the house and went to the doctor to get some cream for body lice and I sprayed the furniture and box spring and covered every inch of the floor with diatomaceous earth and I bought new white sheets the better to see the bugs. I took some samples of the bugs to the county extension office and they looked at them under the microscope and I had an exterminator take some to the lab. I was so sure I had bed bugs or body lice and I really got worked up for nothing. As soon as the source of the infestation,the wheat, was gone- the bugs were gone. Try to find them and catch them with cellophane tape and get it identified. It could be fungus gnats or mosquitoes and trust me, getting bit by some mystery bug is no joke but it is always manageable once you identify the problem. Good luck.

  14. Carol in AZ

    Thank you Roseanne for your reply. I was contemplating contacting ASU’s science department and based on your response, confirming my belief that I am experiencing extremely unusual problems, I am going to contact them tomorrow. I will keep you posted on any progress or information that ASU provides to me.

    And just so you know, your empathy means a lot to me and is greatly appreciated.

    • good luck and please do keep me posted, carol! feel free to comment here or email me at roseanne [at] itsallyogababy.com

      • If either of you are interested, maybe I can write you back about my lifelong experiences with moth, which despite going back over 30 years, I have much to learn about this indomitable pest and foe. They still have the power to surprise me, especially during the last 24 hours as the cleaning continues!

        • hi peter ~ i’m interested in your experiences. sent you an email, looking forward to hearing more about your adventures!

        • Mary

          Help….moths for months. Come in cycles. Can’t find source or larvae anywhere.

  15. Carol in AZ

    Peter, I would also be interested in what you have to say.

  16. Karen

    I have a closet that was infected with moths from a fur coat that was stored in that closet. I was told by the department store that was cleaning & storing my fur to paint the walls of the closet. The paint seals the eggs in which I was told you cannot see. The painter sealed the cracks between the floor & base board in that closet. I am now looking for how to clean the wood floors in the closet. Does anyone know what cleaner to use to clean the wood floor to kill the moth eggs?

    • Laurie

      Hi Karen, I’m experiencing the same problem. The building exterminator is clueless and told me he has never dealt with moths in NYC. The owner of the company is coming here tomorrow and told me the only thing I can do until then is to vacuum. I have fairly new wood flooring throughout my place. A powerful vacuum is all you need and be sure to get the ceilings too. I was ‘Googling’ the best vacuum for moths and noticed your question, which I can’t believe was only yesterday. I didn’t know about the paint but its good to know. Did you know the eggs are actually caterpillars for 10 days before they become adult moths? Apparently, this is the time when most of the damage takes place. I thought I was looking at an inch worm a few weeks ago, only to learn later on that is was indeed a caterpillar. I’m prepared to shell out approx. $1,000 between the exterminator and dry cleaners. I find it so repulsive but grateful that it’s not mice or bedbugs.
      Let me know how it works out. If you’d like, I’ll give you my Email address. Good Luck!

  17. Mandy jones

    We have hoovered , wiped and sprayed the area, on my hands and knees with a torch and tweezers pulling each one out of the carpet by the skirting board….but not a sign of anything eaten or a moth., what am i missing????

  18. Elwyn

    PLEASE HELP ME,

    I shake my clothes and leave it to dry outside in the sun and once it’s dried i bring it in and fold them. However, when i wanted to wear something i’d always find a moth popping out of my clothing, please tell me what to do because it’s grossing me out.

  19. Kayla Marks

    Hi All, I know how bad this is and how there really aren’t that many web sites that have truly dealt with the problems the way many of us are learning to deal.

    i’m not sure I’ll ever get my life back from the moths….I walk in my house and start scanning the floors for eggs, the window sills, the bathroom sinks and I have a freakish ritual of bleach and diatamaceous earth that works well, you just have to be ok with white powder around your house.

    The problem was at its peak 2 months ago here in California where some casual moths entered my house one evening while I had company dining on my deck. They got in, took over and began spreading insanely. The infested wool rugs, food, every nook and cranny you can imaging and I started freaking out.

    That’s when I had to look closely at the fireplace, the cracks in the hardwood floor–you know the drill.

    Where I sprinkle the diatamaceous earth–they are not reproducing. Where I haven’t put it they are as alive as ever.
    Some of you sound like this may help you.

    It’s at pool supply stores and on the internet. I got the food grade quality and a huge 40 pound bag. This doesn’t hurt you or your animals–just dehydrates them and kills them from the inside.

    You can buy a rubber bulb thing from Amazon to mist the powder in vents and hard to reach places.

    My poor husband. Each week I add more DE and act like it’s not even there—what white powder all over the kitchen…..?

    I know that many people really don’t understand how insane this moth thing can be and how it can make you feel like you’re going crazy.

    Hang in there and we’ll see if we can’t get these problems licked. There should really be no need to clean your closet every equinox and decide it’s inspiring or thought provoking. Most people clean their closet every couple years and when they do—-it’s not full of moths.

    We all need to be doing something more fun with our weekends.

    God Bless. Kayla

    • Crazed by Moths

      Thank you for the diatomaceous earth reminder. I used it years ago for fire ants outside and it worked.

      We are about to pull up our wall-to-wall carpets after trying everything else. I am almost 70, very neat and clean, and have never had to deal with clothes moths in my life until I moved into a house where they were lurking. I am constantly scanning walls, ceilings, clothing, and everything else, ready to squish. Some pheromone traps have worked. Others have not caught even one male.

      Those who have not been besieged by clothes moths have no idea how frustrating, time-consuming, and aggravating they are.

  20. jules

    Oh man this really helped me to read tonight. I have struggled for more than a year now to get these awful creatures and carpet beetle out of my life. Last October I had an exterminator come to my home. Like all of you, emptied my closet, washed everything, dry cleaned the rest and purged many items to the trash (roughly 7 large bags of clothing). I cleaned my two boys closets, my clothing, my husbands, all the linens and all the bedding. Worked days. Felt happy that at least my house was clean and I had been forced to let go of items I did not need or want anymore. My closets now are orderly and tidy. It felt good but sadly it didn’t last. I have been killing live adult moths and carpet beetles most of the fall. It’s so awful to have this take over your life. I vacuum each day in hopes that I will get a hold of the little assholes. Has anyone been dropped to their knees, prayed to God and cried? I feel selfish, but that’s me. I was so mad today after I pick a moth larvae off my denim jacket. It’s horrifying to find and discouraging. I cried out to God (sounded more like Nancy Carrigon “Why”).
    I know it’s more of the same; wash, vacuum, dry clean (blah blah blah). It’s made me almost obsessive, I scan every room when I enter it for carpet beetles crawling up my walls and moths in my garments. I just don’t get rid of them all even after all cleaning and washing. This is like a much needed therapy session and support. As above comment, people don’t understand unless they have gone through it. I pray often for the creatures to leave my house and even for God to give me strength to keep cleaning. Really sounds dramatic, I know, but it has ruined the quality of my life. I have thought often and prayed for the elderly or the poor who can not help themselves out of this. It’s awful. Instead of playing checkers with my boy, I am doing more vacuuming and washing. Time stealer, sanity robbing, stupid bugs leave me alone!

    • Fran

      Has anyone tried steam ironing. I’m finding holes in so many of my shirts, cotton, rayon and blends. When they can be ironed that’s what I do. This is a nightmare.

  21. Janet

    THE ANSWER IS CEDAR CHIPS, FOLKS!

    I noticed tiny flying things around a beautiful old rug I hauled in from the street the year before and had stored behind my couch. Yikes! I threw the rug back out.

    I vacuumed the red velour sofa, the old Persian rug beneath it, all books in the bookcases, etc. I washed and ironed all the curtains.

    Then I consulted the gentlemen at the local hardware store. They told me to put cedar chips under the sofa, and in all of my closets, and the moths would be gone!! Really? That was the solution, they assured me. I bought about 20 for something like $20, along with cedar oil to spray on the chips and refresh them. Do that once a year, they advised. I put six under the sofa, and never saw another moth there. All this was ten years ago.

    At the time, as I was doing the clean-up and intense home inspection, I discovered moth holes in some vintage cashmere sweaters in a nearby closet. I assumed the moths had spread from the rug. I washed and dry cleaned everything in all closets, then scrubbed down the closet walls. The cost was over $200 for the dry cleaning. Wow.

    I consulted the very happy dry cleaner. She said old cashmere is especially prone to moths, and so is old wool. It’s very hard to get rid of moths in individual garments because the larvae somehow comes back over time. The moth holes will begin again in the same old garments years later.

    Good to know. I mended and kept a few vintage cashmere items, and kept my eye on them. It is ten years later. Sure enough, I just pulled a gray sweater out of the closet and discovered: MOTH HOLES!

    Yup, I had lapsed on my annual cedar chip spraying process. Needless to say, I just took care of it.

    I’m about to check everything in the closet, but I suspect it’s just that one cashmere sweater that is 50+ years old. (It belonged to a family member who passed away.) If it’s the only thing in the closet with holes, I will mend it. If it contaminated other items, this time it goes in the trash.

    The dry cleaner helped me understand that the problem really can be confined to a few cashmere and wool vintage items, so in the interest of saving others huge dry-cleaning bills, I’m sharing this information.

    • jules

      I wish it were that easy for me. I too used cedar blocks, chips and essential oils. Cleaned diligently, laundered and dry cleaned, but they returned. I have found the little bastards in every room in my home. It’s depressing and feels like they will never leave. Also lucky enough to have carpet beetle. It’s brutal. God bless you all and stay the course of cleaning and purging.

    • Fran

      Janet, Can you try putting those cherished, affected sweaters in the freezer?

  22. Rachel

    I feel like I’m losing my mind. My best friend stayed in my home when I was sick and in the hospital. I came home for three weeks and saw some bugs which I killed. Six weeks later I came home and couldn’t believe how bad it had gotten. I was killing about 20 an hour the first few days. At times I’ll only see two in a day, but the next day there will be 5, or 7, or 10. I’m so angry at her that I could scream although I realize it is somewhat irrational as she didn’t do it on purpose. I can’t understand how she didn’t see those little demons flitting about.
    All day long I scan the walls and ceilings. I have a ton of furniture and clothing. It seems like an insurmountable task and amount of money to even begin tackling it. I feel so powerless I sometimes just start to cry. My skin feels like it is crawling all the time now and I don’t sleep so well.
    I haven’t spoken much to my friend as I’m afraid of what I’ll say if a lengthy conversation begins. She sits outside smoking most of the day and I’m assuming that is how those evil beasts got in my home. She left a bunch of stuff here which is now out on my balcony because it was completely infested.
    Reading all your stories is somewhat relieving, but also disheartening.

  23. Alice

    I have been infested with moths that don’t eat clothes – they are
    hideous they appear on clothing but there are no holes – I am using
    the exterminator but they are saying there are in the food. We have also
    thrown out all of the grains. Nothing helps they’re still here
    I’m sure they are hiding because its cold here in LA – help

  24. Sammy

    Thank you for this post. I too feel like I am going crazy. I see the inch worms crawling up my wall daily. We have taken everything and cleaned it, even removed the layer of fabric on our box spring, they were eating it. I believe they are attracted to the cat fur. We vacuum daily and wipe down everything, I have never dealt with anything like this before. It is very upsetting. I can’t figure out where they came from but it seems the most infested spot was under our bed, everything under there was filled with the tubes, filled! I pulled out a cardboard box with some thank you cards in it and it was filled with the tubes, like something out of a horror film, hanging from the top of the box, in every hole in the box (the cat had bit the box years ago), etc… We threw everything out under the bed still they crawl up the wall. I don’t know where they are coming from. Pest Control is coming today, hoping they can do something to stop the cycle. Will keep you posted.

    • Sammy

      Okay so turns out it was Indian Meal Moths. The pest control didn’t find any food infested, including the pet food but he said it could have been an old bag or could have come from a neighbor. Apparently Clothes moths do not climb the walls that was how he figured it out. Some of our clothes did have the cocoons in them (well one jacket) and some shoes but apparently they go to hide in the clothes. Fun of living in an apartment complex I suppose…

      • Sammy

        Okay so mystery solved. The pet food had spilled out under the bed about a month ago, it had eggs in it. That is how the moths ended up under the bed, also we had fed the cats in the closet the same time. So that is how they got in the closet, only one Jacket had them in it and it was against the wall, that is how they got in there. The pest control guy inspected everything and the bags we have now don’t have them but he told us to watch for webbing in the bags in the future. Apparently they are confused for clothing moths a lot. These kinds climb the walls and don’t eat clothes though. Best of luck to all of you on here. These things gave me nightmares.

        • thanks for the updates, sammy. i’m glad to hear you sorted everything out! this kind of infestation is definitely a little traumatic.

        • That sounds horrendous Sammy. Have you managed to get rid of them all? You’re right – there are different types of months and the worm type ones look horrid. At least your clothes aren’t ruined by these little nuisances!?

          • Sammy

            Nope still not done with them, it has been maybe 6 months. We still find them in our bedroom and closet, most recently under our bed again was a small group of them, cleaned and two days later 3 more cocoons under the bed. They are meal moths yet they are in our bedroom. It is really hard and gross and upsetting! Pest control is coming again tomorrow for the maybe 8th time…

  25. Dana

    We have also been fighting the moths. They have mainly been in an old wooden wardrobe that has to stay in our rented flat. I have removed clothing and washed everything, but I don’t want to put my clothes back in there until I feel it has been disinfected. So, at the moment, all my clothes are in suitcases, just waiting to go in. :( The thought of those little creatures all over my clothing, just grosses me out. How does one safely disinfect wooden furniture – especially an old wooden wardrobe that belongs to my land lady (so I really need to take care not to harm it)?

  26. Pete

    Hi,
    Recently noticed we have a clothes moth problem but just can’t find the larvae and no clothes (that we can see) have been affected. We have a couple if suspicious holes in the carpet but no larvae. They are also in every room despite being vigilante and keeping the doors shut. Have tried hoovering, sprays, strips, catchers, cleaning and still have no idea where they are coming from.

  27. Lindsay

    Very helpful thread here. We moved in last June and discovered these little buggers in a hallway closet. There’s an HVAC duct on one side of the closet so it is hard to vacuum all of the crevices and crannies. We have seen no clothing or fabric damage and the infestation seems contained in this single closet. We just had the house painted and cleaned the closet very well. Reading here, my thought is also that this is the closet where we keep our vacuums. So I wonder if even though we have no fabrics anywhere nearby, they’re feasting on the vacuum bags somehow! Exterminator wants to fog the whole house which makes no sense to me. We have DE for the pool so I will try spreading some of that powder to get to the crevices in the closet where I cannot reach to clean. Prior owner kept yarns in this closet so I suspect that was the root of the infestation. Yuck!

  28. Hi,

    I thought I had it bad.

    Nothing but nothing beats placing Pheromone Traps at strategic places, yes, it will take time, for not all male moths will be caught prior to them catching the tantalising whiff of a real life female moth, but I find these ideal for almost ‘mopping up’ the majority of new moths, and now, only a 2 years into using them have noticed more moths caught early in the year (with far fewer flying) especially if you set them just prior to spring/summer.
    Also, I would recommend (if you can) separating the areas which you know they like/live &/or breed in & doing your best to keep that area free of access for as long as possible, I don’t know how powerfull these traps are, but I have noticed a distinct uptake in the catch-rate in rooms/closets etc which I am not constantly using, hense, moving high risk items into these areas, This may sound potty, after all, wouldn’t you like to keep these items safe, BUT, & herein lies the rub, they may be the culprits, even innocent clean items can be the drug of choice to moths, & I am convinced that moths zoom in on the concentrated aroma nearest to the trap in a still room.

    Also, & this is very very important, regards the moving clothing from one part of the house to another.

    When deciding on having to wash/throw/move clothing from any mothy area, never simply carry them on their hangers to their new home or to your washing machine. Stay within the infested zone, & place them in a large strong plastic bag (say a red one), then go & shake them in the garden/patio/roof, after you have shaken them put them back into ANOTHER plastic bag ( say a blue one)& take them to their next port-of-call. Stick to the same bags & you will be simply astonished at the amount of ‘stuff’ you find in the red bag, all little bits & pieces that would have been carried & scattered through your house, hense, in my opinion sometimes (in the past) finding moths in my treasured Persian rug.
    Good luck
    X’s

    A little note, moths & their lavae & eggs loath bright sunlight, you can hang your treasured clothing in the garden in full sunlight for a few hours, (& if you have a vintage fur) beat it with a carpet beater….

  29. Holly

    Hi,

    I had a terrible time from March to August 2013 with clothes moths – we’ve lived in this house 15 years without any problems up until last March when I found the larvae chomping away on a nice wool rug under a hideabed couch. They had spread from that main problem area and just begun attacking 4 other rugs. You all know the drill – rugs were sent out, closets cleaned, woolens bagged, clothes moth traps put around.

    From November till this April we didn’t see a thing and nothing was found in the traps either. Then, this May: They’re Back! We’re seeing some random flying guys, catching some sitting dazed on the ceilings in the mornings and there are some in the traps. But here is the weird thing I need to know if anyone else has had happen, I can’t find any evidence of them eating anything. Rugs, clothes, things in closets – no evidence of any eating, larvae, moth carcasses, nothing! Could these moths be hatching from eggs laid almost a year ago? From what I’ve read the eggs hatch into the larvae and then turn to the flying moths. So if thats the case are the larvae in cracks along the floorboards? What are they eating to be able to turn into moths if I can’t find any fabric damage in the house? I am going crazy!!!

    • hi holly ~ it’s actually completely possible that the larvae are living and feeding in places like the cracks along the floorboards. they feed on keratin, the protein in hair, so if there are any hair balls (especially if you have pets) behind furniture or between boards, they could be eating those. they also have quite long life cycles (anywhere from three months to a year), so it’s entirely possible that this new batch is just the offspring of the moths you had last year.

      i also had a similar situation last year, where i hadn’t seen any moths in months, suddenly they appeared, and i couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. it turned out there were IN MY VACUUM CLEANER! i had vacuumed up some eggs, they hatched in the vacuum and the larvae fed on all the hair (mine and the cat’s) that had been sucked up. my vacuum has a clear canister, so i just happened to look inside while i was cleaning and saw hundreds of moths!

  30. Danyck Wheadon

    The following is a link for a programme by James Wong on herbal remedies. At around 17:30 there is a section about these evil little critters, a recipe to make and a before and after review from 2 trialists.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tukc1Kt6Elk

    The recipe in the programme is as follows…

    2 tablespoons dried rosemary leaves
    2 tablespoons dried sage leaves
    2 tablespoons dried wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) leaves
    Dash vodka

    Directions
    Strip the leaves from the dried plants, and crush them finely. Mix together the rosemary, sage and wormwood in an open shallow bowl, and sprinkle on a dash of vodka.
    Put a little of the herb/vodka mixture into the center of a small muslin square. Tie with raffia. Repeat until you have used up all the herbs.
    Pop the herbal sachets into cupboards and drawers to deter moths. When they first stop smelling, give them a squeeze and a bash to release more volatile oils. Next time, they will need replacing. Approxiamately 6 months. Hope this helps :)

  31. Danyck

    Just waiting for some sage and Ill be trying this out myself. Will let you know how I get on in a mo(n)th or so. Wish me luck!

  32. lizzie

    I have had these little critters for 2 yrs now! Cannot find the source but think they came in either in cat food or clothing as I order most clothes, shoes, etc. online. I didn’t find any in my closet 3 months ago when I cleaned it out completely BUT today, I found 5 crawling on a sweater (non-wool). Went through the closet and culled out many moth-less items but still have to check shoes and boots. No more moths. Husband then cleaned out his closet and didn’t find anything. Neither of us has found holes in clothes, ever. We do have a cat with long fur who sheds a lot- after reading all the posts, I think I need to vacuum more frequently in “her” room (where my closet is located as well) and them make sure the vac bags are thrown out more often! I hung real lavender around the closet but that apparently failed. I will try some of the advice given here but like the natural, pet safe solutions only. Thank goodness the little sh*ts do not bite- we had bees once and that was truly terrifying!

    • Jenni

      Lizzie,
      I soooo know how you feel! I’m going insane trying to get rid of these little buggers. I tell my husband-they know when they see me coming!!!! I’ll see them flying in the room, if I try to swat at them and miss they fly in a zigzag evasive manuvuer making it difficult for me to catch/squash them. I’ve even caught them and thought they were dead only to find out they were “playing” dead and got up and flew away before I could fully drown them in the toilet. I’ve read all over the place were they like to hid….not my little friends they fly right up into your face-taunting me as if to say “you can’t catch me”. I’ve cleaned all clothes and come to find the clean clothing has the egg tubes on them! It’s so frustrating. I’ve gotten rid of every single “sniff sniff” piece of cashmere clothing to no avail. I have a baby on the way and the last thing I want is for her clothing to become infected.

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