Please help me destroy my own personal Clothes Mothra!
September 13, 2012 12:59 PM Subscribe
I have a MAJOR infestation of clothes moths. I've read advice on here about how to get rid of them and how to keep them away, but I still have some questions. Please help before all of our beautiful clothes are ruined!
posted by joan_holloway to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Out of nowhere we have a huge clothes moth infestation. My husband and I have found holes in all of our clothes, from gorgeous cashmere sweaters to even lame old cotton tees (I know that moths only eat animal fibers, but from what I have read, the larvae can be laid on cotton and cause holes when they hatch). We have so many moths that at any given time you can look on the walls or ceilings of our closet and see several adult moths hanging out. Yes, I am sure they are clothes moths due to all of the damage to our clothes.
Based on tons of reading that I have done here and elsewhere on the web, we have devised a two part plan. Still, I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on whether our plan is missing anything. I also have some concerns and questions that I'd love to have addressed by anyone who has been through this.
Background: We live in Seattle where it doesn't get very hot in the summer to kill off larvae and it's very damp in the winter, creating a perfect climate for these jerks. We rent an old house (early 1900s) which I think maybe came with the infestation already brewing. The closets have carpet in them. We have already tried cedar (cedar chests, cedar blocks, cedar spray, cedar/lavender sachets, cedar clothes hangers) and it is not enough to control this. We do not want any chemicals at all, including moth balls, No Moth bars, or pest control services. Please do not suggest chemicals. We have cats that we cannot keep out of the closet, and my husband and I are both delicate flowers who do not want to breathe chemicals when we get dressed. Oh, also, we wear our clothes year round (yes, my husband wears sweaters in the summer), and nothing really goes into storage for a season, so we are dealing with a wardrobe that is constantly being cycled through wearing.
Okay, so on to the plan.
Step 1: Destroy the population and clean all the things
-We are going to clean all of our clothes. Delicate stuff will get sent to the dry cleaners, while everything else will get washed/dried on hot, put in the sun and shaken out
-Once cleaned, everything is immediately going into airtight packaging. Delicate stuff will hang in some sealable garment bags I found, and foldable stuff will go into vacuum seal bags (like Space Bags but more heavy duty).
-We will take everything out of the closets, vigorously vacuum the carpets, spray the walls and shelves with cedar spray, hang more sachets and misc cedar items and pheromone traps (even though I have not had luck with them in the past). We will also try to heat the closet up for a few hours using a space heater, which I have heard can help kill larvae in the carpet. Later we'll get a dehumidifier to keep the humidity down.
Am I missing anything here in the destroy and contain phase?
Step 2: Maintenance
-All clothes will stay in their airtight containers for several months until we stop seeing moths hanging out and stop seeing new damage.
-As soon as something gets worn it will go back into the sealable container that evening, whether or not it gets washed (more on this in a moment).
-We will continue to vacuum regularly, spray cedar spray, check pheromone traps, etc. We also have a house cleaner who comes by every other week who can help with this.
This is where I have some questions, because I really want to make sure this infestation is GONE before we start hanging our clothes in the closet in the normal way.
First, how long do I need to keep stuff stored in the airtight containers? I've read that the lifecycle of a clothes moth can be anywhere from 1-6 months.
Second, I have been reading that you absolutely should never ever EVER hang clothes back in the closet after wearing them, because they must be washed immediately. Really?!?! Am I the only person out there who finds it prohibitively expensive to dry clean all of my wool sweaters or nice dresses after wearing them just once, or wasteful to wash everything and potentially wear it out exponentially faster? I don't really know what to do about this. I don't want to keep everything zipped up in vacuum bags forever, but I also do not want to wash or dry clean everything after wearing only once. That seems incredibly wasteful and time consuming and expensive. And stupid.
Which leads me to my final question: at what point can we start hanging things out in the open in our closets again without fear of a new infestation? I covet the beautiful organized closets that I see on Apartment Therapy and that is so not possible if everything has to be bagged up constantly.