Photo by Salt Water New England

Monday, August 15, 2022

What To Do About Fine Woolens and Moths?

A Reader Question:

Muffy, 

Just wondering how you would suggest dealing with moths.  I have never had any until this summer. Now I’m panicking about all my fine woolens. Any suggestions? 

Thanks.


18 comments:

  1. Having gone through this, here is what I did: anything vulnerable you feel has been exposed to moths either dry clean or put in a freezer: wash everything else if possible. Buy many sticky moth traps (for clothing, not pantry) put them out and be prepared to replace them until you aren’t catching any more. Vacuum every single nook and cranny where moths are including baseboards, molding, corners, carpets so you are getting as many eggs as possible. Eventually they will start to disappear but it does take time. I know how annoying they are—good luck!

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  2. Cedar, cedar, cedar! Balls, blocks, whatever, place them wherever you want to protect items. We usually get ours from my FIL or our local hardware store. And as "Anonymous @ 2:05p.m." said, make sure EVERYTHING is clean. They're attracted to human smells, etc. - hrplo

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  3. Wash and dry or dry clean and pop things into plastic storage bags right away. If you are still worried, go to the liquor cabinet.

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  4. I’m still serving the in battle against the moths. Wherever I see a moth it gets the slipper, no questions asked, if I have to spend a few minutes so beit. I buy lavender bags and lavender moth cassettes that poison the moths and smell the cupboard of lavender. Ultimately you will never totally exterminate the barstools, but you have to manage them best you can.

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    1. Could you recommend the brand of the lavender cassettes? I'd love to know where to find these!

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    2. Acana is the brand, usually buy of eBay, I left them in a room once, and saw dead moths, they are my go to, chuck them in the jumper draw.

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  5. They are the worst!! Wash everything and store in airtight containers once cleaned. Use cedar and lavender sachets. And for damaged items, the French-American Reweaving Company in Manhattan is a godsend.

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  6. I collect new and vintage wool novelty sweaters, many of which are one-of-a-kind, so I know the panic you feel about moths! I don't find a dry cleaner can get woolens actually clean, so I opt to clean them myself. Here is my DIY procedure for cleaning and repelling moths: 1. Inspect the sweater using your hand to gently pull apart the knitting from the inside (spread your hand so you can put some tension on the knitting). Do this in a brightly lit room or in front of a window. You will be able to identify any moth holes and repair them before you wash. If the hole is very minor, just use a needle and thread. It helps if you or someone you know is fairly skilled at mending. If the hole is larger than a pea, I would absolutely recommend sending to a professional. Don't wash without inspecting first, or you may be heartbroken when an easily mended hole becomes gigantic. 2. Wash with specialty wool wash or a clear shampoo (baby shampoo works great). Press in a rolled-up towel and lay flat to dry or use a wooly horse if you have one (I'd like one for Christmas, Santa!). 3. STEAM! Use a steamer or hot iron on steam (please do not do this on anything with even a trace of synthetic fiber - it won't end well). The steam kills any moth eggs and gives your sweater a beautiful nap. 4. Repel moths using the above mentioned cedar and lavender methods + pheromone sticky traps - I store my most precious sweaters (after cleaning) in a cedar chest and hope to have our main closet lined with cedar at some point. Good luck to you!

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  7. Moths per se are not the problem, only the more radical elements among them. We need to differentiate.

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  8. Vinegar & water, permethrin.

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  9. Unfortunately I seem to put them in the drawer unprotected and hope the moths get lost. This has not been a good strategy.

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  10. Clothes Moth Egg Killer - Trichogramma Parasitic Wasps. Order the eggs on Amazon.... It looks like black sandpaper. A more natural solution to killing off the clothing moths.

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  11. I know I will catch hell, but at clothing turnover in spring I have one storage big closet where I store my wools and cottons (yes moths will eat your cottons too!) and I buy a fresh box of moth balls from the dollar store and open it and shake it from time to time in spring and summer, and that seems to work. Keeps away moths and spiders and mice as well.

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    1. Hearing that moths will eat cotton is new to me. However, cotton garments need to be stored carefully, too, just the same.
      I have a friend who was a dealer in military collectibles, which included wool uniforms. He actually had everything professionally cleaned before selling. Something else he did, and which was recommended in old military handbooks, was thoroughly brushing garment. In fact, that was sometimes the extent a coat or pair of trousers were ever cleaned, back when wool was worn much more than today. Doesn't really work for sweaters.
      My wife, ever helpful, just mentioned that plastic garment bags unfortunately have a hole in the top for the hanger to go through and that can be an entry for the insects. So you have to use plenty of mothballs or something similar.
      I have long thought that moths will attack things with a nap more than a smooth fabric. But evidently, some moths don't know that.

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