How Do I Get Rid of Clothes Moths?

Common clothes moth

Finding any sort of bug or critter in your home is a bummer, but some infestations are worse than others. If you are finding tiny flying insects in a closet or room with clothes in them, and then finding holes in those clothes, you might have clothes moths. Clothes moths can create a huge problem if they’re allowed to survive in your closets, potentially causing damage to your clothing. Fortunately, implementing quick and aggressive preventative pest control measures can get rid of clothes moths permanently, but it may not be as easy as you think. The professionals at Termiguard are here to help you. This post will help you identify your problem and describe some DIY strategies, but for a moth-elimination plan which guarantees your satisfaction, check out Termiguard’s Pest Control plans. 

Make Sure They’re Clothes Moths

Finding holes in clothes doesn’t always mean you have moths, and flying insects in your bedroom closet could be a different type of bug. Before implementing your moth elimination strategy, use these helpful tips to make sure you know what you’re dealing with.

There are two types of moths that will eat holes in your clothes: webbing moths and casemaking moths. There are other types of moths too, but other species like pantry moths are more likely to be found in kitchens and aren’t a threat to your clothing. Both types of “clothes moths” are quite small, measuring in at just a quarter-inch long and about a half-inch wide. Depending on which of the two types of clothes moth it is, it will either be shiny and golden or brown with darker spots on its wings. 

Clothes moths like to live in dark spaces with plenty of fabric, so if you see bugs fluttering around when you move clothes around in your closet, it may be clothes moths. Casemaking moths also leave behind little crusty “cases” on the clothes they inhabit, but they blend in with the fabric and are often really hard to see, so a lack of cases does not necessarily mean a lack of moths.  

Clothes moths lay dozens of eggs at a time, but the eggs are hard to find as they are extremely small. As the eggs hatch, the moth larva grow into caterpillars which are white or off-white in color and as much as about half an inch long. So if you are finding holes in your clothes, and you have found flying insects and/or caterpillars in your closet or crawl space that fit this description, you probably have clothes moths. 

Addressing the Problem

There are several ways to approach a clothes moth problem, but some are much more effective than others. Most importantly, never assume that you can solve the problem by simply looking for adult moths and killing them with a shoe or newspaper. The damage to clothes is actually done by the moths’ larvae that hatch out of their eggs, so even if you did somehow manage to kill every single flying moth in your house, the problem would almost certainly persist as the females have probably already laid eggs. Ultimately, the only surefire approach to eliminating a moth infestation is to hire an experienced professional like the ones at Termiguard, but there are some strategies you can try on your own as well.

Cleaning your closet space and the clothes in them is an important step, but it may already be too late by the time you are finding moths and holes in your clothes. Nonetheless, it’s important to try to get rid of eggs and larva, as well as create a less friendly environment for the moths, by thoroughly cleaning everywhere you think the moths might be living. You should vacuum, dust, and do anything necessary to remove trash, dirt, or animal droppings from the area of the infestation, as moths can feed on any of these things.

When it comes to clothes, sending them to the dry cleaner is the best way to clean them thoroughly enough that any eggs or larva on them will probably die. But if you do machine-wash the clothes at home, make sure to use the hot setting on your washer, because it’s really extreme temperatures that do the best at eliminating moths. For clothes that you don’t want to wash, you can put them in sealed plastic bags in the freezer for at least three days, or carefully bake them in your oven at its lowest heat. But while these methods will create a more hostile environment for moths and larvae, they are not guaranteed to kill them. Ideally, you should protect your clothes from moths before an infestation occurs by storing clothes in tightly sealed boxes or bags. 

Finally, one commonly-used strategy to fight moths is to place mothballs or cedar oils in the area where moths might or do live. But these strategies are probably more effective for prevention. While they might work to kill existing moths, they are only shown to do this when they are sealed with the infested clothes in an airtight container, so it’s hard to know if it’s the mothballs or cedar oil itself that are doing the work. Another factor to note is that mothballs are a pesticide, and it is best to avoid long-term exposure to pesticides inside your home. 

As you can tell, it is much easier to take steps to prevent clothes moth infestations in the first place than it is to get rid of clothes moths once they are in your home. The best thing you can do to rid yourself of a clothes moth problem is to throw out any clothes that have already begun to be eaten and to clean the entire area as thoroughly as possible. But for guaranteed results with experienced professionals and field-proven methods, contact the expert exterminators at Termiguard and ask about our Pest Control programs.