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How to Protect Clothes from Moths

by Household Essentials • May 07, 2019
How to Protect Clothes from Moths, Mold, and Other Home Hazards
 
While transitioning your closet and drawers from winter into spring and summer, it’s common to worry about how to protect clothes from moths, mold or mildew while they’re stowed away for the coming months. Luckily, there are a few precautions you can take to keep your clothing fresh and protected from pests and other harmful organisms.
 
Recognize the signs of moths, mold and other issues
 
If you see a moth or two flying around your home, don’t fret. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your clothes are at risk. These moths likely aren’t the kind of moths that are a danger to your clothing. You’ll likely never see the moths responsible for doing damage to your clothes, because, unlike other moths, they avoid sources of light and prefer to remain in the dark.
 
Even if you do see adult clothes moths flying around, the adult insects aren’t responsible for damage to your clothes. Damage to clothes from pests comes primarily from the larvae of two different types of insects: clothes moths and carpet beetles. Moth and beetle larvae feed on animal-based fibers such as wool, fur and down, which is why cold weather clothing in particular can be affected.
 
Moth larvae can feed on materials for a few months before they develop into adult moths. While adult moths do not feed on clothing, they can lay more eggs that will, in turn, produce more larvae. Beetle larvae can feed on fabric for more than a year before fully maturing.
 
If you have a problem with moth or beetle larvae, you’ll likely see signs in the form of small holes in your clothing. If you have a problem with mold, you’ll begin to spot the signs of it on your clothes and potentially other surfaces. Signs of mold or mildew growth on clothes can include musty smells and small whitish specks.
 
Take preventative measures before storing clothes
 
To make sure your clothing is free of potential pests and mold or mildew, be sure to clean and thoroughly dry clothing before storing it. Moths and beetles prefer dark, undisturbed areas, and mildew and mold growth are encouraged by dark, warm, moist areas. A hot wash cycle or dry cleaning will kill moth and beetle larvae as well as mold or mildew. Putting away items that are clean also reduces the risk that substances left on the clothing, such as bits of food or pet dander, will attract pests to the clothing.
 
It’s important to make sure you’re putting clothes away completely dry, because moisture that’s trapped in clothing before it’s stored away in a closet, bag or other storage space can encourage mold and mildew growth. The worse the air circulation in your storage, the higher the risk of a sustained moist environment that will encourage this growth.
 
Repel pests and reduce risks of mold and mildew
 
Whether you’re storing clothes away for a few seasons or trying to protect clothes that are currently in rotation, there are a few things you can do to help prevent pests and mold or mildew growths from settling into your clothing.
 
Cedar closet accessories have been used for decades to repel moths and other potential clothing hazards. Cedar closet kits often contain a variety of items to use in closets, drawers and other storage solutions, such as chests, plastic containers or bags and more. The oils in the aromatic red cedar naturally repel pests and act as a mild fungicide, which can help prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
 
Lavender has also been used to repel clothes moths. Lavender is a popular addition to sachets, which may also contain cedar and can be used in closets, drawers and storage bins or bags. In addition to keeping your clothes smelling fresh, lavender (along with the cedar) will help repel moths and other issues.
 
As mentioned above, it’s important to try to curb moisture and humidity levels to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. When storing clothes, it’s important to try to allow for proper airflow to help clothes stay fresher and dryer. While more tightly sealed storage solutions, such as plastic vacuum bags, are okay for storage over shorter durations, the lack of airflow can cause clothing to deteriorate in other ways if left in the bag for longer periods of time (more than a year or two).
 
There are a few ways to control and curb humidity levels in closets and other clothing storage spaces. Keeping your air conditioning or heating system running regularly will help pull excess moisture out of your home and keep humidity levels more regulated. Desiccant products are also popular and are available in various forms, including closet hangs, tubs and pouches. These items use hydrophilic substances to pull moisture out of the air and contain them safely away from your clothing. If you have a particularly problematic closet or area, you might consider investing in a small dehumidifier for the area.
 
With these key tips in mind, you’ll be starting off on the right foot to protect clothes from moths and other issues.