Monday, 11 July 2016

How to moth-proof your wardrobe

Clothes moths. Horrible things. If your taste in vintage leans more to the 1960s and 1970s, when polyester and other synthetics really came into vogue, you might not care about them so much – moths have no taste for crimplene. However, if your tastes are a little earlier, or you're a knitter, or you're mad about felt hats, you will understand exactly why I hate them so much. Those tiny, flittering, harmless looking things can wreak havoc on clothes.

I'd noticed a few moths flitting about the bedroom recently, and while I wasn't 100% certain they were clothes moths, I wasn't taking any chances. I decided to give the wardrobes and drawers a proper-deep down mothproofing. It's a simple enough process, if fairly time consuming. 

You need a vacuum cleaner, mothproofing spray, and anti-moth hangers or balls (I use Zensect balls, as they change from orange to white when they're used up, so it's easy to see when they need changing.)

Tackle each section bit by bit. I started with my wardrobe, taking the suitcases off the top, hoovering them, wiping down the top of the wardrobe, then putting the cases back. Then everything came out of the wardrobe. EVERYTHING. This was actually a good time to check if I'd put anything away when it needed mending, to see if anything should be sent to the charity shop, and to see if there was any evidence of the dreaded moths. (There was none; my dresses were safe.) I hoovered the wardrobe, sprayed it with the mothproofer, and when it was dry returned everything to the wardrobe. It's important to spray right into the corners of wardrobes as moths and their larvae can lurk in cracks and crevices. And, of course, don't spray anywhere where animals are likely to go. The cats aren't allowed in the wardrobes, so I didn't have to worry about that.

After that came my drawers (ooh, matron!). They were removed, hoovered, and sprayed, as was the chest of drawers. Because I'd identified a few things I was never going to wear again (good stuff for the charity shop, stuff that was simply unwearably tatty for the bin), there was more room in the drawers and wardrobe, so there was more room to put everything away neatly, with Zensect balls in between layers for added protection. Not only are my clothes now safer, they're hung up more neatly, and it's easier to choose what to wear because they're easier to see.

Doing the jumper cupboard is always a worry. Moths love animal fibres, and I always fear discovering a munched handknit. Realistically that's unlikely, as I wear my woollies regularly and it's the stuff you ignore that's most likely to become a moth buffet. That's why people often only realise they've got a moth problem at the end of the summer, when they go to get their jumpers and tweeds out, and the moths have had several months to set up home. The jumper cupboard was clear of the little blighters too.

In the end, I found only one thing with any damage, and that was in Mr Robot's wardrobe. He'd piled a lot of things in the bottom, including a grey wool jumper, which had been munched. However, his wardrobe got the same treatment as mine, so it should be safe now. The jumper went in the bin.

I've still got my yarn boxes to sort through, though they seem okay - they've always got Zensect balls inside. And there's my big trunk, which has a lot of craft stuff, duvet covers and a couple of vintage dresses in (they're too small for me, but I love them). However, the moths seem to be beaten for now.

20 comments :

  1. Great tips Mim, I might give those mothballs a go for the spare wardrobes where stuff tends to linger. I tend to clear out and rotate my wardrobe every now and again (and NEVER hang anything that's even been lightly worn back in the wardrobe, as moths love human protein!!) and anything in storage is packed in sealed plastic crates or those vac bags you suck the air out of. We still get a bit crazed when we see a moth and can't rest until we've caught them. Moth-eaten stuff can be pretty disgusting to be honest, it's a bit creepy!!

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    1. I used to hate killing them, but this year I've been squashing them. The kittens like catching them too, but they're not very good at it, and watching them flail their way round the room trashing everything in pursuit of a moth gets tiresome...

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  2. Ive never had a moth problem, knock on wood but this is good advise

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    1. It might be different in the US. (Or possibly your part of the US; they're on the increase here in the UK because we've had several warm winters and wet summers on the trot.)

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  3. Good advice, and a reminder to have a look over my clothes between seasons.

    Where I'm at silverfish and carpet beetles are the munchers I need to watch out for-for some reason silverfish seem to love vintage cold rayon.

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    1. I never knew that! We don't have silverfish in the house, and only one carpet, which in synthetic, so I'm hoping those pests won't bother me.

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  4. This is really good advice, Mim. Thank you. I used to store winter weight scarves in a suitcase under the bed. I had a beautiful, big, black, wool pashmina and one winter went to get the scarves out and my favourite was full of holes! The one underneath was also munched but the rest were fine.

    I've been using cedar wood balls as my anti moth solution and I've heard that lavender (the plant) is also a good deterrent, but of course I don't know how long the cedar wood balls last or are effective for. So I like the sound of the ones you mention as they change colour. However, I really hate the smell of mothballs - do the ones you use smell horrible?

    Have a good week

    Veronica
    vronni60s.blogspot.com

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    1. I believe cedar balls need sanding every few months to retain their effectiveness.

      Zensect balls smell of lavender - not bad at all. The old-fashioned sort are illegal because of all the dangerous chemicals they contain.

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  5. I've never been a wearer of wool and luckily have escaped the perils of the evil mothra but my brother has expensive taste in clothes and lost his entire collection of Lyle & Scott jumpers to the vile creatures. I'll pass your tips on. xxx

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    1. Augh. I do pity people who lose all their woollies.

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  6. I am in the middle of that battle. I only wiped down the surfaces with lavender scented cleaner, now think I might have to redo it with spay. I also have to wash the carpets, and use the steamer on the edges. Have washed all of Petes clothes hot as washes as I can get away with, wishing we had a chest freezer for my wool stash. I not even finished one room have the rest of the house to go, even seen sodding moths in the library/ study. Today's mission is my clothes.

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    1. I've got a spare tin of spray if you want it - just don't use it anywhere your cats might go.

      If you've got flying ones, have you got any pheromone traps? They're basically sticky pads that smell of lady moth and take breeding males out of action.

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  7. As most of my wardrobe is 100% polyester, I do not have to fear moths that much. I do have some winter woollies, but so far nothing has been munched. I'll take note of your tips, though. I had to smile when you mentioned Mr. Robot had piled things at the bottom of his wardrobe. Sounds exactly like my husband ... xxx

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    1. I knew he'd put some stuff at the bottom of it, but there was more than I'd realised. It's all back in the drawers now.

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  8. Good Lord, I wasn't even aware of this hazard. Strewth. sounds like a major job. But maybe I should have a look, my wardrobe is packed tight, so could be a veritable feast for the little munchers. Thanks for this domestic advice Mim!

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    1. It depends a lot on the fibres you wear - as you're a big 60s/70s fan, I reckon most of your stuff will be safe from them.

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  9. Oh, Mim!
    How dreadful, having moths! My house is still new, so those pests haven't found their way in YET. I fear all of those wardrobe-dwellers, since my own clothes is now large in numbers, and every item is useful and USED until it's maximum (frugality at it's best!) - but, that is a skill that took ages to acquire.

    Your letter hasn't came yet... I'll be patient. Sometines it take TIME for our mailman to pass by. :(
    Marija

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    1. I've put it in your birthday card, so I hope the letter arrives on time :-D

      I think part of the problem is that Trow was traditionally a wool-producing town, with lots of woollen mills. It must have been paradise for the little blighters years ago. As long as I keep an eye out for them, and make sure my mothballs are active, things seem to be okay.

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  10. Excellent work and tips alike, dear Mim. It never ceases to amaze me how much damage the smallest of creatures can cause, be they moths, termites, or any other insect that goes after one's home and belongings.

    Fingers crossed that your diligent efforts did the trick completely.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

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  11. I have a moth phobia, so am always flapping about fearfully from them, because they will GET ME! I can't wear natural fibres but we do have the odd thing lurking about which might get got.

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