Apr 16, 2016

Spring Cleaning Addition - Moth Deterrents

Spring cleaning is upon us so remember to protect your clothes from moths. Spring and summer are hot, moist, months which is when moth larvae thrive. Did you know It is actually the larvae that feed on your clothing and not the fluttering moths? There are many natural deterrents for moth larva available; moth balls are toxic and have a terrible and long lasting odor so don't use them.  Keep two things in mind: moths do not like the scent of flowers, and do not like dry and clean areas. They love warm, moist, dirty fabrics.

Follow these steps to protect your favorite winter clothing and woolens from moth  damage.

1.  Wash and Clean
Moth larvae are about a half-inch-long and feed on natural fibers only. Your polyester and acrylic will not be affected. They love dirty wool and silk so before you put them away, clean your silk blouses and scarves and shake out and air wool blankets and have them dry cleaned if especially soiled. I clean mine in a front loading machine with cold water and a delicate cycle and wash from Ecover since my 4 legged kids sleep on them all winter. Beware....not all wools are easily washed; you don't want 1/4 sized blankets from water shrinkage. I have found that placing a lavender sachet inside my dryer on an air cycle also freshens woolens quite nicely.

2.  Add Cedar
Cedar oil is the only natural thing that kills moth eggs. It's easy to find cedar balls, disks that hang on hangers, flakes, and sachets. I frequently purchase from Amazon.com, however The Container Store, Kohls, Target, Walmart and Bed Bath and Beyond carry different styles. You don't need to line your closets, just place the cedar auspiciously on the clothing that you are not going to be wearing and inside containers in which you'll store wool and silk clothing or blankets. The disks hang nicely over regular hangers, and you can purchase cedar hangers for a special wool coat. Cedar does lose its fragrance over time but a quick sanding will release it. I have disks that are now 15 years old and they smell fabulous as soon as I rub lightly with my trusty sanding block. 

3.  Spray Fragrant Water
Apparently, moths don't like things that smell clean or floral. Here is where you can be creative. Rosewater is easy to find and pour into a bottle to spritz into the air in your closet. It is safe for wool blankets and cottons but I wouldn't let any liquid touch silk. You can also make your own fragranced water with your favorite essential oils. The recipe is to add 1/2-1 tablespoon of your favorite essential oil, add it to 1/2 ounce of distilled alcohol or vodka to help the oil and water mix together, then 14 oz of distilled water. You can mix everything in a commonly found 16oz spray bottle. I love to mix bergamot, eucalyptus, grapefruit, peppermint, and rosemary versions, even combing them for a rich fragrance. The essential oils will have a longer lasting effect than a purely water-based spray. 

4.  Use Sachets 
You can easily purchase sachets filled with lavender, Cedar, and other herbs that ward off moths (including bay leaves, lemon balm, and peppermint). You can purchase loose herbs from sources online or at your local farmers market, and muslin or paper bags and envelopes to create a sachet. I recently found lavender bags for use in the dryer at Trader Joe's. I prefer to make my own sachets so I stitch up 3 sided muslin bags and create decorative envelopes from attractive papers. Then I either sew on a button or create a hole into which I place a grommet (not needed - you can simply slice through the fabric and create a slit) or gather the top and simply thread grosgrain ribbon through.  You can also gather the top together and simply tie ribbon on. I hang them from my closet rods, from hooks on the door or closet wall, and scatter them throughout my under bed blanket boxes, drawers, and storage containers. The scent is what deters moths. What's fabulous about using herbs in a muslin bag is that it lasts a very long time. When you no longer smell the fragrance, simply squeeze the bag to release the fragrance from the dried herbs. A secondary benefit is that your closet and drawers will smell fabulous.

5.  Set Traps
Hate fragrance? Amazon.com sells cardboard pheromone traps They work by luring male moths inside. They get stuck to the glue which decreases chances for mating and hence the number of eggs and larvae that .  Sure, they're non toxic and odorless, but frankly I find that anything that gets stuck to glue – including mice and rats – probably caused a slow and painful demise. I prefer to repel them with fragrance or use cedar.

When you bring out your clothing to wear again in the fall, you will not have allowed moths to create holes and your blankets will come out smelling fresh and clean.

NOTE: If you have a major moth or flea infestation, rely on Cedar oil foggers instead of toxic sprays and bombs. I purchased mine from