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How can I moth-proof my apartment this summer?

By Alanna Schubach  | May 20, 2019 - 9:00AM

There are both natural and chemical remedies for dealing with these pests. 


With summer on the way, how do I moth-proof and protect the winter clothes I'm putting away for the season?

Fear not, there are several measures you can take to ward off these clothes-eating pests, our experts say. 

It's no fun to find the winter clothing you stashed away in a closet all summer have been nibbled on. Two species of moths tend to be the culprits here, the webbing clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth. They are attracted to the dark environment of a closet, and like to lay their eggs on materials like silk, leather, and wool, according to Terminix. It's the moth larvae that then do the damage. 

The first step to keeping these insects away from your sweaters is to first do a deep clean. 

"Thoroughly clean garments before storage, as moths are attracted to articles soiled by food, beverages, perspiration, or urine," explains Gil Bloom, a pest control expert at Standard Pest Management. "For furs, professional cleaning and cold storage is recommended. Keep closets and storage areas vacuumed and clear of lint and fur, especially behind shelf gaps and around moldings." 

Careful storage is also key. If you can, don't just leave your items hanging in the closet; stash them away in air-tight containers or plastic bags. 

You might think using moth balls will be sufficient to protect your clothes, but surprisingly, they're only effective under specific circumstances. 

"Common moth balls with PDB or naphthalene will not repel clothes moths or prevent them from laying eggs. The vapors are lethal to them only when maintained at sufficient concentrations in tightly confined containers with the items you wish to protect," Bloom says. 

Some prefer to use herbal moth balls or cedar shavings—a more aromatic alternative to the standard moth balls.

"I typically take most of the woolens and put them in suit bags or plastic or in a drawer that’s pretty much closed away, and intersperse the moth protection throughout the bags or drawer so that the smell is very apparent," says Deanna Kory, a broker with Corcoran.

This has always worked for her, Kory says, though Bloom notes that there isn't scientific proof that herbal or organic repellents are effective.

And if you end up with a significant moth issue, carefully read the label on any pesticides before using them. 

"Elimination of widespread, serious infestations of clothes moths may require the services of a professional pest management professional," Bloom notes. 

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Alanna Schubach

Contributing writer

Contributing editor Alanna Schubach has over a decade of experience as a New York City-based freelance journalist.

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