Cleaning Tips FYI Your Space

How to Get Rid of Clothes Moths Without Mothballs

It’s that time of year again! The calendar says to start putting those seasonal outfits and bedding away in storage, and you want to make sure your wardrobe is fresh and ready to wear next season. This year, skip the smelly mothballs you usually use to keep your outfits from becoming moth meals. Learn how to use natural alternatives to mothballs to help protect your clothes from hungry insects.

Mothballs are made of hazardous chemicals and use paradichlorobenzene and naphthalene to produce that overwhelmingly strong order and noxious vapors. Mothballs are poisonous if eaten by small children, and the massive doses of this toxic chemical needed to kill moths can accumulate in our cells and make us sick, too. They can even make our pets sick. Here’s how to get rid of moths naturally without using mothballs.

1. Always Wash First

How to get rid of clothes moths: wash clothes before storing them

Image via Bigstock

Before you pack up your clothes to put in storage units, make sure they are laundered thoroughly and — almost more importantly — dried completely. Moths are attracted to smells such as soaps and perfume, so if your clothes still carry those scents, moths will be drawn to them. Washing your clothes before putting them away will also remove moth eggs already on your clothes from last year.

2. Cedar Chips

Cedar chips are a natural moth deterrent and a useful alternative for protecting your closet’s contents from insects. Cedar comes in a variety of options from hanging cedar blocks to cedar chip balls to small plastic containers filled with cedar chips. Replace cedar chips annually or more often if you notice they have lost their fresh smell. Cedar chips are easy to find at any major home supply retail store or online at Amazon and are a very economical way to get rid of clothes moths naturally.

3. Lavender

Another natural alternative to mothballs is the herb lavender. Lavender repels insects naturally, and most moths tend to avoid its scent. Another advantage of using lavender is that it has a clean and pleasant smell. Used in aromatherapy, lavender is said to help relieve stress and anxiety. Simply add a few cloth satchels filled with dried lavender throughout your closet, and then enjoy the fragrant aroma. You can also use lavender’s oil extraction by dabbing a few drops on a cotton ball or a linen cloth. Hang the oil-infused items near your clothes, but not touching them, because the lavender oil can stain.

4. Cloves

Cloves are a top three pick for the most fragrant and natural ways to get rid of clothes moths. Not only do cloves smell wonderfully delicious, slightly sweet, and spicy but they also offer great natural ways to get rid of clothes moths. Make your own natural, moth-repelling sachet with a sheer, stiff fabric, such as organza, or wrap whole cloves in tissue paper and hang them in your closet. Cloves are one more natural alternative to mothballs, minus the harsh chemicals and irritating smell.

5. Airtight Containers

As a preventive measure, you can seal up your clothes and seasonal bedding in airtight plastic containers. Containers and large zip-up garment bags create another layer of protection for your clothing and provide a barrier to seal insects out. Again, just remember to wash your outfits before you seal them up, and wipe out all your containers to remove any existing moth eggs. Store your chemical-free and naturally moth-safe containers in a self-storage unit to free up space in the closet.

6. DIY Moth Repellant Spray

A homemade DIY natural anti-moth spray is easy to put together. Mix ¼ cup of neem oil in a 2-quart spray bottle. Fill it with water, then add a few drops of liquid soap. Shake well, and spray your solution directly on the moths.
Another simple solution is to mix white vinegar with equal amounts of water to create a pesticide spray that is effective against moths. Just be careful spraying your repellent on certain types of fabric, such as silk, suede, and leather, as the vinegar and water solution will stain.

7. Clean Up After Pets

Just as moths love scents commonly found on humans, they are also irresistibly drawn to animals and their crates. To keep moths from setting up shop in your home, deep-clean all areas your pet frequents with soap and water weekly. Cages and pet bedding — mainly wood shavings and shredded newspaper — serve as breeding and nesting areas for moths, who lay their eggs near animal fibers, a favorite food of their larvae.
It’s easy to get rid of moths without using toxic mothballs. Their terrible lingering odor might just be worse than finding your favorite wool blazer riddled with holes. These are just seven nontoxic, pleasant-smelling, and natural ways to get rid of clothes moths without reaching for the mothballs.

About the author

Elliot Chalme

A New York City native, who split his time growing up in Brooklyn and Manhattan, currently living in Philadelphia sharing storage and organization knowledge, and NYC insider info with the Storage Space readers!

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