Non-toxic moth protection
June 5, 2007 6:36 PM   Subscribe

What non-toxic substance can I add to boxes of clothes to prevent moths from eating them?

I'm going to be putting clothes in the attic for the summer, including a bunch of sweaters. Mrs. Alms and I want to protect our clothes but we don't want to use bad-smelling toxic-seeming moth balls. Does anyone have experience with herbal sachets such as Moth Beware? I hoping to get references to specific products that people have used successfully. Last year we lost some sweaters, and we don't want to repeat that.

I've heard that throwing cedar blocks in with the clothes helps, but is that really enough?
posted by alms to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
cedar is the traditional closet liner of choice. I never had a problem with moths when my closet was cedar lined.
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:40 PM on June 5, 2007

Ditto on cedar. They even sell cedar chests just for this purpose.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:49 PM on June 5, 2007

I use cedar balls (heh that sounds dirty) in with my wool yarn and I've never had a problem. They're about the size of mothballs. People still use cedar chests, too.
posted by sugarfish at 6:51 PM on June 5, 2007

Response by poster: It would be nice to have a solution that cost under $50, or even under $25.
posted by alms at 7:19 PM on June 5, 2007

24 Cedar Balls for $6.49
posted by chiababe at 7:43 PM on June 5, 2007

Cedar seems pretty cheap, it's also the solution I've used in the past (I've also never seen a moth hole on my clothes).
posted by Matt Oneiros at 7:49 PM on June 5, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the cedar pointers so far. Maybe I'll just make a trip to the container store tomorrow and pick some up.
posted by alms at 7:56 PM on June 5, 2007

Also, cedar can be "refreshed" as it loses its potency. You just sand it a little until the smell comes back. So it potentially lasts quite a long time.
posted by doift at 8:36 PM on June 5, 2007

Cedar blocks and cedar balls do work. However, companies like Lane will tell you to periodically sand the interior of a cedar chest--I assume you would need to do the same with the blocks to refresh the cedar oil fumes. Cedar chips would be easy to replace every year and are readily available in pet stores and in craft stores (potpourri supplies).

I use lavender sachets for my sweaters and yarn with good results. I get them from Michael's for a few bucks each. Cheap enough that I can replace them every year when I pack up my woollens. The downside is that the lavender scent isn't exactly masculine.

Of course you could mix the lavender and cedar chips to make your own sachets. If you have an herb garden, rosemary, lemon verbena, eucalyptus, and mint are also supposed to repel moths--harvest and dry this fall to use next summer. I haven't tried any of these because I like the scent of the lavender, but you could create a blend that smells good neutral to both you and Mrs. Alms.

Most importantly, make sure that the clothes are clean before you box them up. Moths are attracted to odors and oils in dirty clothes.
posted by weebil at 8:42 PM on June 5, 2007

Buy cedar shavings (such as is used in pet cages) and put several handfuls into an old, clean stocking. Tie a knot in it, cut off the excess stocking, and leave it in with your clothes until it doesn't smell like cedar any more. Then replace it with a new one.

This has been working to keep my sweaters moth-free for years. We bought the cedar shavings at a pet store.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:10 PM on June 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I knew a guy who used sandlewood oil for that, and it's a common ingredient in scents, for both men and women. He put a drop in the last rinse water, I think.
On second thought, I think that might have been used as a mosquito repellant. Sounds like it would work though. It's an aromatic wood, like cedar.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 5:16 AM on June 6, 2007

My mom swears by Irish Spring soap - don't even take the bar out of the box, just stick one or two in your pile of sweaters. I don't think it smells super great, but it seems to work.
posted by clavicle at 7:15 AM on June 6, 2007

We got rid of moths using lavender (see weebil's post). So this really works. The smell is not very masculine as mentioned, but it dissipates fast when wearing the clothes.

I guess cedar is more fun and better smelling, though.
posted by mmkhd at 7:43 AM on June 6, 2007

If you put them inside airtight plastic bags, such as trash-compactor bags, inside the boxes, a handful of silica gel or other desiccant (Drierite?) per box in a sock will keep them free of moths. I think my gallon jar of Drierite was around $17, and you can reuse it indefinitely by drying it out in an oven.
posted by jamjam at 12:55 PM on June 6, 2007

Response by poster: This is all great info. Thanks for all the personal testimonials. I'm off to the pet store to stock up on cedar shavings, and will throw in some lavendar when I manage to find some.
posted by alms at 1:20 PM on June 7, 2007

« Older 20D or 30D? You tell me!   |   How to rent a house? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.