How to Deal With a Clothes-Moth Infestation

These creepy little crawlies can chew their way through your clothing, wool carpets or even the felt in your piano. When you first discover signs of infestation, take immediate steps to prevent further damage.

Locate the source of the infestation. Use a flashlight to inspect clothing and carpets for telltale signs of moth infestation such as holes in clothing or other woolen items, moth larvae, or silk webs spun by the larvae. (If you find dried skins from larvae or sandlike droppings, they're likely from carpet beetles rather than moths. Clothes moths typically like dark, secluded places and may be found under furniture, in carpets or in boxes of stored clothing.)

Thoroughly clean the infested area with soapy water.

Vacuum the infested area, and continue to vacuum it regularly, disposing of the vacuum bags promptly, since they may contain the moths' eggs or larvae.

Dry-clean all the items you suspect may have become infested with moths, or launder them in hot water. Even if you don't see any moths, there may be larvae embedded in the clothing that need to be removed.

If the items are going into long-term storage, place them in a sealed, airtight container along with cedar chips or mothballs. If you're using mothballs, wrap them in paper so your clothes don't become discolored from contact with the chemicals. (Note that cedar chips are not 100 percent effective and must be sanded every year or refreshed with cedar oil in order to increase the odor they give off. Mothballs are more effective but can impart an unpleasant odor to your clothing.)

Moth larvae typically feed on wool or other fibers derived from an animal (feathers, fur, felt), but they can also be attracted to sweat, hair or oils embedded in other fabrics, so clean all items well before putting them in storage.

If the items are not going into long-term storage and it's not practical to put them in an airtight container, distribute some cedar chips or mothballs among them. Then, at least once a year, brush the items and expose them to sunlight to discourage further infestations.


Garments with moth holes can be repaired by a professional experienced in reweaving, but be sure to have the item dry-cleaned first. The cleaning should kill any moth larvae remaining in the garment.


Mothballs are one of the leading causes of childhood poisoning, so always keep them out of the reach of children, and read the precautions on the package.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Soap
  • Cedar Chips Or Mothballs
  • Flashlight
  • Sealed, airtight container
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