How to get rid of moths from wardrobes, carpets and vintage clothes

  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • Follow our easy guide on how to get rid of moths. Our tips should keep these pesky creatures out of your wardrobe and away from your clothes for good

    Summer is a reason for so many celebrations, there’s eton mess and summer holidays, but there is a serious downside. We’ve all been there, excitedly pulling out our sun dresses from the back of the wardrobe and, to our horror, finding them riddled with moth holes.

    Yes, it means you can go shopping for a new holiday wardrobe, but it doesn’t feel the same knowing you’ll just be sacrificing it to the moths in two months time. Plus, it’s got you on edge about the safety of your favourite cashmere cardigan.

    We’ve all been there, the victim of a moth feeding frenzy.  Invisible mending will only get you so far, it’s time to tackle your moth problem head on.

    Like with most things prevention is key in keeping your wardrobe safe from the moth munchies. Those pesky moths are drawn to dark and damp spaces, so it’s important to keep your wardrobe clean and well-ventilated. Similarly, you’ll want to start washing your clothes more often, particularly your knitwear, as moths love the smell of human sweat.

    More pest-related tips: How to get rid of ants

    We’re got some great tips to get rid of moths and keep your favourite outfits free of tell-tale holes. But first, let’s answer a few common moth-related questions.

    how to get rid of moths 2

    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Which moths eat clothes?

    There are over 2,500 species of moths in the UK, but only six of these species eats clothing. These include the Common Clothes Moth and the Case Bearing Clothes Moth. These aren’t the moths you see flitting around at night, but the ones you don’t see.

    A common moth is about 6 to 10 mm long, and the larvae are tiny at 1mm long when freshly hatched. They are extra hard to spot, but do leave a cobweb-like trail in their wake.

    The Case Bearing Clothes Moths are very small like the common clothes moth. However, the larvae creates a case using the fibres from the clothes is munches on, camouflaging itself.

    Do moths eat clothes?

    Not exactly. Adult moths do not have mouths, so those irritating holes are actually caused by moth eggs and caterpillar-like larvae chewing through your clothes. So while seeing moths flying around in your home is a problem, but the main issue is their larvae, which are doing all the damage.

    Moths breed continuously all year round, but are at their most prevalent between June and October. A female moth can lay up to 200 eggs at a time. Each larve take between two to 9 months to mature into a moth. That’s a lot of time for them to do some serious munching.

    How do clothes moths get into your home?

    Clothes moths aren’t able to fly very far, so it is unlikely they will be flitting in through an open window. It is more likely that they have travelled in on antique rugs, jumpers from the charity shop and second-hand furnishings.

    Before bringing any of your thrifting finds into the home give them a good clean and spray with something like Moth Stop Fabric or Carpet Sprays to kill of any eggs or larvae.

    How to detect clothes moths

    Keeping an eye out for tell-tale holes is the easiest way to work out if you are dealing with a moth infestation. However, you can also purchase moth traps that work by attracts adult moths, and trapping them on sticky pads.

    Lakeland sell Moth Stop Moth Traps, that you can stick in your wardrobe like flypaper. If you find tiny moths stuck to the pad, you know you’ve got a clothes moth problem.

    And now those tips…

    How to get rid of moths in clothes

    1. Deep-clean your wardrobe and your clothes

    How to get rid of moths

    Image credit: Trevor Richards

    The telltale signs that you have a moth infestation are signs of larvae, which look like small grains of white rice, webbing and cocoons in the corners of your wardrobe and cupboards. Give your wardrobe a good vacuum, followed by a wipe down with a damp cloth spritzed with an anti-bacterial spray. Vinegar diluted with water will also work a treat for keeping your wardrobe clean and (hopefully) moth free.

    Speaking during an appearance on This Morning Bug expert Professor James Logan, revealed that the old adage of ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’, definitely applies when it comes to keeping your home free of moths.

    He said: ‘Regular hoovering and cleaning is the best method of prevention, but variety is key. Quite often you only notice clothes moths when it’s too late, so using a mixture of preventative methods is the best way to keep your home moth-free. However, whether prevention methods have a total effect is unlikely – but everything helps.’

    2. Spread clothes out in the wardrobe

    This makes it harder for larvae to migrate between items of clothing, it will also help keep your wardrobe well ventilated. Moths love nothing more than warm, humid spaces.

    3. Keep your clothes clean

    Moths are attracted to the smell of human sweat, and the larvae will live off this and any food stains. Wash clothes regularly, especially knitwear, to avoid infestations, and don’t leave dirty clothes in piles for longer than a few days.

    If you suspect you have a possible-infestation, wash your clothes on a high heat, get them dry-cleaned, or put them in the freezer for a few days to kill any eggs or larvae.

    Read more: How to get rid of fleas

    4. Use anti-moth paper

    Lining your drawers with anti-moth paper should also help in the fight to keep moths at bay, and an added bonus, some are scented which will help to keep your array of clothes smelling sweet.

    5. Use natural moth repellants like cedar wood, lavender and eucalyptus

    How to get rid of moths

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Use natural products to provide extra protection for clothes and minimise harm from moths. While they love the smell of sweat, moths hate the smell of cedar wood, lavender and eucalyptus (strange creatures). You can buy plenty of lavender scented moth repellent sachets or cassettes from Amazon or Lakeland, but if you can try a few more natural remedies. Cedar wood blocks or sachets of lavender look gorgeous hung from coat hangers, but will also make sure your fluttery visitors stay well away.

    If a cedar block loses its scent, sand it down and add a few more drops of cedar oil to it to keep it performing effectively.

    By using lavender-scented detergent and linen water, you’ll deter moths from making a home in your linen cupboard. This has the added advantage of keeping your sheets smelling fresh.

    6. Take extra care with expensive clothes

    Store valuable skirts, shirts, dresses, suits and coats in garment bags, and dry clean them often to keep the problem at bay. However, almost take clothes out of dry-cleaning bags because the plastic will attract dust, and moths love a bit of dust.

    7. Store your winter clothes correctly

    Wash your winter clothes before packing them away for the summer, and store them in vacuum-packed bags. If you have cashmere jumpers or scarves, wrap them in tissue and store them in a lidded box with a sachet of silica to absorb any dampness.

    Whatever you do, avoid cardboard boxes, as moths can chew their way through these without any problems.

    8. Deep clean any vintage finds

    Vintage clothes are often the source of moth infestations, so be sure to wash or dry clean them, before slotting them in beside your collection of wool jumpers.

    How to get rid of moths from carpets


    Image credit: Matt Antrobus

    You have been diligent in protecting your wardrobe from moths, but unfortunately thats not the only place they can infest. The winged creatures often lay their eggs in carpets, preferably in areas where the larvae can hatch and feed undisturbed; such as on keratin in the wool. The damage occurs mostly around the edges of a room, especially if the carpet is shaded or covered by a rug. Open areas with lots of foot traffc and natural light are rarely attacked, so activity on your stair carpet will be along the skirting or stair strings.

    To eliminate carpet moths, use a moth spray designed for use on carpets. You need only apply it along the edges, but ensure the treatment reaches the base of the tufts, where the larvae feed, by parting the rows with your hand – repeat after 30 days.

    If the infestation is serious and you’d like a professional assessment, Rentokil, offers a free survey with advice on treatment.

    Going forward, it’s key to vacuum regularly, taking care to run under furniture that sits on carpet, or where clothes are stored – for example, under the bed. You could have your carpets professionally cleaned every three months for maximum protection.

    Read more: How to care for wool carpets

    We hope this helps to get rid of your moth infestation and prevent moths from returning in the future. Do you have any other top tips for getting rid of moths from your home?

    All the latest from Ideal Home