Why Do I Have Clothes Moths In My Washington D.C. Home?


Clothes moths are a small, whitish-grey color. You have most certainly seen one of these moths and may or may not have known what it was.

cloth moth on wool

What Is A Clothes Moth?

Aside from laying the eggs, it’s not the adult moth that does the damage. In fact, the adult does not even eat. They live for a very short time once they transform into a moth, their only mission is to lay eggs before they die. The larvae are ¼-½ inches long, and will eat its way along your garment as it grows. This process can be as short as a month or as long as two years, depending on the temperature. The warmer it is the faster the larvae will develop.

They can not fly very far, so if you have a clothes moth problem, it is probably because something was brought into your home with larvae attached to it. The other possibility is a very nearby bird’s nest because clothes moths will also eat discarded bird feathers.

What Attracts Clothes Moths

A mother clothes moth will search out garments or textiles made of animal-based fibers. Keratin in the fibers provides the needed nutrition for the larvae to develop. Keratin is also in human hair and skin. Dust is largely made up of discarded skin cells, so in a pinch, the mother moth could lay her eggs in a dusty location. The types of fabrics clothes moths are most attracted to include wool, silk, and cashmere.

The ideal location for a clothes moth to lay her eggs would be in a dark closet that is rarely visited, or the attic. Such a location could become a moth hatchery. Clothes moths do require a low level of moisture to survive, but are otherwise fairly versatile. If you are in the habit of wearing a garment, then returning it to the closet, you have unknowingly been inviting moths to your closet. They particularly like clothes with perspiration and food stains.

Do not forget that your rolled-up wool rugs are also in jeopardy. These are oftentimes family heirlooms that have been tucked away for safekeeping from rambunctious children or a new puppy. They are in just as much danger of being ruined from clothes moths.

Clothes Moth Prevention Tips

If you see moths flying from your closet, this should alert you to the presence of destructive fiber-eating larvae. At that point, you need to remove all the clothes from your closet and inspect them. Especially, focusing on the garments made of animal-based fibers. You can also implement the following tips:

  • Air out closets, clothes moths do not like the light.

  • Frequently rotate clothes, the movement disturbs moths.

  • Keep at-risk clothing in proper garment bags. Clothes moths do  not eat through plastics.

  • Only put clean clothes back in the closet, hang recently worn clothes outside the closet.

If you come across larvae vacuum it off garments and empty canisters into a plastic bag, then to an outdoor trash bin. It is also recommended to freeze garments for 48 hours to kill off any unseen larvae. This works best in a large chest freezer. Laundering in the machine will kill the larvae, but since affected garments are usually tagged dry clean only, this isn’t a good choice. Dry cleaning can be an effective method, but you need to disclose to the dry cleaner that you have an infested garment. Some dry cleaners will refuse to risk infesting their business. This is completely understandable. Steaming is also an option but the results are not always dependable.

Contact The Professionals

If you find yourself with a clothes moth infestation, there are some over-the-counter products available. We all know about mothballs and the horrible odor that accompanies them. Who wants to smell like that? Capitol Pest has tried and true methods for getting rid of clothes moths. Give us a call today to find out more about how we can safeguard your closet.

Tags: clothes moth control | clothes moth prevention | clothes moth smell |

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