Lavender to vinegar – how to prevent moths ruining your best clothes

IT’S a critter-cal time for office workers as they prepare to return to the workplace.

During the pandemic, thanks to a feast of suits and formal attire left abandoned in wardrobes, moths have been having a field day.

Moths have been feasting on suits and formal attire left abandoned in wardrobes during the pandemic[/caption]

Now many employees getting ready to go back to the office are finding their workwear has been attacked.

Julian Stone, boss of the American Dry Cleaning Company, said the pests have had “carte blanche” while many of us have been working from home.

He added: “Pre-Covid, customers would bring in garments with one or two holes, but now they are are sometimes akin to a Swiss cheese.”

Demand for the firm’s re-weaving surface, which uses threads from a hidden part of clothing to mend a hole, has shot up by 80 per cent.

Meanwhile, the National Trust’s annual pest review has found an 11 per cent increase in insects, including moths and silverfish, which have thrived in closed properties.

Hilary Jarvis, assistant national conservator at the National Trust, said: “It was dark and there were no visitors or vacuum cleaners being pushed around, so all our insect numbers went up.


“Members of the public probably didn’t have time to go to the dry cleaners before they put their suits and winter clothes away at the start of lockdown.

“Moth larvae target sweat, so people may have noticed holes around collars and armpits.”

In general, warmer summers and year-round use of central heating means moth numbers are rising – the cold weather used to kill them off.

In the past, people used moth balls to rid their homes of the pest. Everyone remembers the distinctive smell – caused by a substance called naphthalene.

But naphthalene has been banned in the EU since 2008, so now you are advised to use natural methods to repel moths instead.

So what can you do to prevent these critters ruining your best togs?

Here’s our moth-busting guide:

  • Wash clothes you’re not planning to wear for a while, then store away in air-tight containers or bags. Moths are attracted to sweat patches, human hair and body oil that are left on dirty clothing.
  • Don’t store items in a cardboard box, as moths can eat through cardboard.
  • Leave your wardrobe door open regularly to allow ventilation. Moths like warm, humid places, so keep the air circulating.
  • If clothes have been attacked in your wardrobe, take them out and wash suitable items at a higher temperature than normal to kill the larvae.
  • Send items that can’t withstand a hot watch to the dry cleaners, or freeze them. Moth eggs and larvae can’t survive very cold temperatures.
  • If you have a problem with moths after cleaning all your clothes, use diluted vinegar to clean the wardrobe. Moths can’t tolerate the acid in the vinegar.
  • Now is a good time to shake your winter clothes down and seal them in garment bags. Moths look for a place to mate in the warmer months, and your woolies are the perfect breeding ground.
  • Get into the habit of brushing woollen clothes after you’ve worn them.
  • Hang natural fibre garments on cedar wood hangers. Cedar repels moths.
  • Buy cotton and linen as they should be safe from moths because they don’t contain keratin, which moths eat.
  • Make your own repellent by putting dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme, lavender or bay leaves in cloth bags and placing them in your drawers.
  • Be sure to keep the places where you store your clothes dry.
  • Draw your curtains at night to prevent moths entering the house.
  • Rentokil advises vacuuming regularly, including hidden areas such as under beds, to remove eggs.
  • When handwashing vulnerable items, add a couple of drops of lavender oil to the water. Spritz laundered items with lavender spray.
In general, warmer summers and year-round use of central heating means moth numbers are rising – the cold weather used to kill them off[/caption]

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