According to English Heritage, reported numbers of fabric-eating moths have doubled in five years, although by no means all moths cause problems. Of the UK’s 2,500 moth species, only about seven attack fabric, the most common being Case-Bearing and Common Clothes moths. They are drawn to natural fibres, feeding on the protein they contain: wool (cashmere is a favourite), cotton, silk, linen, horsehair and fur are all prone to attack. It isn’t the mouthless adult moths that cause the damage but their larvae, which look like grains of rice.
Prevention is better than cure and there are plenty of ways to guard against attack: ventilation helps prevent a build-up of moisture that moths love. Regular vacuuming and washing will also help to keep them at bay. Moths hate certain aromatic scents such as cedar, rosemary and lavender: cedar wood hangers for clothing, and balls or sticks are deterrents. Bunches or sachets of dried rosemary and lavender can also defend against them as can the oil of these plants.
To protect your home from moths, you will need
- Freezer bags
- A powerful vacuum
- Cedar balls
- Natural moth spray
How to prevent moths
- For moths in your wardrobe or drawers you’ll need to deep clean. Remove all contents (not just the things that are visibly affected) and wash everything you can on the highest possible temperature setting to kill any larvae or eggs. Low temperature washes are thought to have helped aggravate the increasing moth problem. Dry items on a low heat.
- Take any delicate items to the dry cleaner or put them in sealed bags and pop them into your freezer overnight.
- Vacuum thoroughly, inside cupboards and drawers, paying particular attention to dark corners.
- Put cedar balls or other moth repellent in among the items when you replace them.
- Where possible, store vulnerable items in sealed vacuum bags with moth repellent.
- If carpets are under attack, move all the furniture and vacuum thoroughly, especially at the edges of rooms where the fitted carpet meets the wall. Use a natural or chemical spray as necessary on areas that have been affected.
- Take rugs outdoors, shake, vacuum thoroughly, wash and dry before bringing them in, or take to a professional cleaner.
- Make regular checks on problem areas to ensure the problem is solved. Consider asking advice from a professional pest control company if necessary.