Clothes moths: 5 tips and tricks for getting rid of case-bearing and webbing moths

Clothes moths: 5 tips and tricks for getting rid of case-bearing and webbing moths

Clothes moths (or clothing moths) are common household pests that can cause damage to clothing, textiles and fabrics. There are two common types of clothes moths: case-bearing moths and webbing moths. Case-bearing moths construct protective cases around themselves using fabric fibers, while webbing moths create silken webs to hide and feed within clothing and other materials. Both types can be destructive and require proactive measures for prevention and control.

Clothes moths, including both case-bearing and webbing, can wreak havoc on clothing and textiles. Their larvae feed on natural fibers, causing irregular holes and extensive damage to fabrics like wool, silk, fur, cashmere and even cotton. Detecting and addressing these infestations early is crucial to preserve the integrity of your clothing and textile items.

Tip 1: Identification of case-bearing and webbing moths

Though it’s important to identify the specific type of moth you’re dealing with, know that both of these species of common clothes moths are dealt with in the same manner. 

Case-Bearing Moths:


Case-bearing moths are small, typically measuring around 6-8 mm in length. They have a golden-brown coloration with three dark spots on their wings. One distinctive feature of case-bearing moths is the protective case they create from fabric fibers and other materials. These cases serve as a shelter for the larvae as they feed and grow. The larvae construct these portable cases, which they carry around as they move, providing them with camouflage and protection.

Webbing Moths:

Webbing moths, on the other hand, are slightly larger, measuring about 9-14 mm in length. They have a more mottled appearance with a mixture of brown and gray tones on their wings. Unlike case-bearing moths, webbing moths do not construct portable cases. Instead, their larvae spin silken webs or tubes within the infested areas, using the silk as a hiding place and a feeding site. These silk tubes are often found in folds of clothing or between textiles, making them less noticeable than the portable cases of case-bearing moths.

Tip 2: Recognizing signs of infestation

To protect your clothing and textiles from infestations, it is crucial to be vigilant and look for visible signs of their presence. Keep an eye out for adult moths fluttering around infested areas, such as closets and storage spaces. Additionally, be on the lookout for small, white, worm-like moth larvae crawling on clothing or textiles. Another indicator of a moth infestation is the presence of silk or fibrous cocoons attached to fabrics or hidden in corners. 

Clothing moth damage

When dealing with clothing moth infestations, it's essential to identify moth eggs, larvae and damaged fabrics to take appropriate action. Remain vigilant and look for tiny, oval-shaped moth eggs laid in clusters, often found in folds, seams or crevices of clothing or fabrics. The larvae, responsible for the destructive damage, appear small and cream-colored, actively feeding on natural fibers. Pay attention to signs of damage, such as irregular holes, chewed edges and thinning of fabrics, particularly in wool, silk and cashmere items. For webbing moths, be on the lookout for silken webs or tubes on infested textiles or within clothing folds, indicating their presence. 

Tip 3: Prevention measures

To safeguard your clothing and textiles from moth infestations, implementing preventive actions is essential. Follow these tips for proper storage, regular cleaning and maintaining a moth-free environment:

Proper Storage:

  • Use airtight containers or sealed bags to store seasonal clothing items, especially those made from natural fibers like wool and silk.
  • Consider using vacuum-sealed bags to remove air and prevent moths from accessing stored clothing.
  • Avoid storing clothing in cardboard boxes or open containers, as moths can easily infiltrate them.
  • Regular Cleaning:
    • Launder or dry clean clothing before storing them for extended periods to remove moth eggs and larvae.
    • Pay special attention to clothing worn outdoors, as they may carry moth eggs from infested areas.
    • Clean and vacuum your closets, drawers and storage spaces regularly to eliminate moth-attracting debris.
    Clothes that clothing moths lay eggs on
    Moth-Free Environment:
    • Maintain proper ventilation and moderate humidity levels in your living spaces to deter moths.
    • Consider using dehumidifiers in areas prone to moisture buildup.
    • Install window screens to prevent moths from entering your home.
    • Place our Clothing Moth Traps in closets, on shelves and elsewhere around the home - such as in bedrooms and living rooms - for a first line of defense against hole-making moths. Use Clothing Moth Traps to monitor for signs of clothing moths and prevent a full-blown infestation. 

    Tip 4: Natural repellents and home remedies

    Natural repellents are an effective, non-toxic and eco-friendly way to ward off clothing moths and protect your textiles. Consider using the following home remedies to keep moths at bay:

    • Lavender Sachets: Moths dislike the strong scent of lavender. Place dried lavender flowers in small sachets or fabric pouches and tuck them into clothing drawers, closets and storage containers. Replace the sachets every few months or when the scent starts to fade.
    • Cedar Planks: Cedar wood emits a natural aroma that repels moths. Place Cedar Planks in clothing storage areas, such as closets and drawers. Refresh the cedar's scent by sanding the wood after 6 months. 
    • Essential Oils: Certain essential oils have moth-repellent properties. Place a few drops of essential oils like cedarwood, lavender, clove or peppermint with water in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture on clothing, textiles and storage areas to create a fragrant and moth-deterring environment. An alternative option is to lightly spray Six Feet Under on clothing, textiles and storage areas, as not only does it contain clove oil as one of its active ingredients, but it also has a 30-day residual effect. (It is recommended to test an inconspicuous spot first.)
    • Rosemary and Thyme: These herbs contain natural insect-repelling properties. Bundle dried rosemary and thyme together and hang them in closets or place them in storage containers to keep moths away.

    Remember to refresh these natural repellents periodically to ensure their potency. Embracing these home remedies will not only safeguard your clothing and textiles but also contribute to a chemical-free and moth-free living space.

    Tip 5: Safe and effective treatments

    If you discover an existing clothes moth infestation, taking prompt and effective action is crucial. Consider these safe and non-toxic treatments to get rid of clothing moths:

    Non-Toxic Insecticides:

    • Diatomaceous Earth: This natural powder is made from fossilized remains of algae and is harmless to humans and pets. Using The Insect Buster, puff it in areas where moths are present, such as closets and drawers. The powder damages the moths' outer layer, leading to dehydration and death.
    • Dust to Dust: Dust to Dust is a non-toxic option that can be used in powder form or as a spray. It is a superb and more effective alternative to diatomaceous earth, according to hundreds of side-by-side tests. Apply it to infested areas, and it will disrupt the moths' digestive system, ultimately leading to their elimination.
    Freezing Method:
    • For small, infested clothing items that cannot be laundered or dry cleaned, freezing is an effective option. Place the items in sealed plastic bags and freeze them for at least 48 hours. This will kill the moth eggs and larvae, ensuring the clothing is moth-free.
      Hot Washing:
      • For clothing and textiles that can be washed, use hot water to kill moth eggs and larvae. Ensure you follow the garment's care instructions and use the highest temperature suitable for the fabric.

          It's essential to avoid using toxic chemicals that may harm you, your family or your pets. These non-toxic treatments are safe and effective ways to eliminate moths without compromising your health or the environment. Combining these methods with preventive measures will help ensure long-term protection against clothing moth infestations.

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