Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pests in the home: Moths

By this time of year, most of us in the Northern hemisphere will have unpacked our winter blankets, scarves, hats and thick jumpers. Unfortunately that also happens to be the time you might discover your favourite jumper has partially been eaten by moths. I dread finding holes in my clothing or blankets. So what can we do to keep our clothing free of moths whithout resorting to the horrid smelling and potentially toxic moth balls?

It helps to know what attracts moths, and more importantly what deters moths because it is difficult to prevent moths from entering your home. So firstly, moths are attracted to natural fibres. By natural I mean wool, cotton, linen, silk etc. It's because they eat the food proteins within these, and especially love eating the food proteins in the form of hair and skin particles that we leave behind on fabric items. For that reason in order to prevent moths, never store worn or unwashed fabric items away in a dark dusty wardrobe, loft or basement. .

Luckily there are things you can do to deter moths from your wardrobes, and without resorting to pesticides. But anti-moth repellents will need to be replaced seasonally to ensure the smell is strong enough to deter the moths. Try the following natural products to protect your garments and home.

  • Cedar chips or cedar oil on in and absorbent cloth will deter moths. But it needs to be 'fragrant cedar' or also known as Juniper in some areas.

  • Lavender, Rosemary, vetiver and rose petals are all moth repellents (basically potpourri)

  • Dried lemon peels scat erred in a chest or tied a muslin cloth can be used.

But using deterrents alone will not suffice to completely protect your clothing.
If you discover moth holes in your garments (bless your soul, I grieve with you), you have to face the fact that you have moths in your wardrobe/storage area. All fabrics or garments withing that wardrobe/area will need to be washed and upholstery and carpeting will need vacuuming thoroughly (and the vacuum bag emptied immediately). Hard areas can be washed with warm soapy water and dried. Once the storage area has been thoroughly cleaned, only put back freshly washed/dry-cleaned items and then also add a moth repellent such as lemon peels. Larger items such as rugs and curtains can also be steam cleaned if you have a steam cleaner.

Regularly used clothes are not at a high risk of moth infestation because moths hate light and being disturbed. Their life cycle is about 21 days, so clothing used regularly should not be at risk. Therefor an alternative treatment for moth infested items is to hang your rugs or clothing outdoors for a day in the sun. Larvae are strongly repelled by light, and will fall from clothing when they cannot find protection. Freezing also kills moths. For items that cannot be hot washed, wrap in plastic and place in the freezer for a day.

It is tempting to store clothing within plastic bags to prevent moths from getting to items, but clothes and fabric items need to breathe, and storing them in plastic bags can cause mildew damage. However, you may wish to store items in a vacuumed bag where air has been removed. In this case make sure that all items are clean and dry, and expect them to be creased when you remove them from the pack.

If you decide to store clothing in a chest, make sure the chest shuts properly and has no holes where moths might get into.
I do hope none of you have to find those dreaded holes in your favourite jumpers. Remember that cashmere is particularly attractive to moths, so it's worth storing that expensive cashmere item or your favourite wool coat properly and safely... and remember to clean them before you do!

Hope you are having a great (and moth-free) day!



thriftymrs said...

That picture made me a little bit sick in my mouth.
We have cedar chips in the wardrobe and unopened bars of soap in drawers and airing cupboards which work very well.
Great info.

Ivy said...

As always, chalked full of interestinfg and usful information.
I love all the pictures except the moth life-cycle-it gave the creeps. Haha.

Have a great day! Keep warm over there.

A note on perfection

Many of the posts featured on this blog are about doing household chores the correct, or so to say perfect way. My intention is not to make readers feel that the way they are running their households are wrong. So if making the bed, or ironing shirts in a certain way doesn't fit your lifestyle, do not feel guilty about it. But by learning the correct way of doing things it might just come in handy for those times when special guests are staying, or when you need to iron that shirt perfectly for a job interview. So enjoy the learning, but skip the guilt and LOVE your homes. x

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