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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Important Anti-Moth Information – for knitters and vintage clothing collectors as well as all other people!

March 19th, 2011 by violette


First let me list my qualifications: Then let me share what I have learned about moth invasion.

1) I am an ardent knitter and I have boxes of precious hand knit sweaters. And boxes of expensive luxury knitting fibers in the process of being knit or awaiting being knit. Now everything is in plastic sealed bags as well as in boxes.

2) I am a  serious collector of fine historic textiles.

3) And I have collected and own an immense amount of valuable vintage clothing.

4) I also own several fur items and these can be offenders. Moths love to live in a nice soft cosy fur collar or coat or muff. Or a lovely oriental carpet, or a wool needlepoint purse! Cashmere socks or a fur purse! Or a silk scarf, especially if it is Dior or Calvin Klein it seems! And pets!

Think carefully about where they might be and be sure to inspect that item and work on keeping those items moth free. Freeze any suspect item for 72 hours. You cannot freeze a pet for 72 hrs but you can wash one.

Thus I am very concerned about preventing invasion and damage by moths!

For decades I had good luck, was very careful and never had a problem. then, suddenly, last summer, for a reason we cannot track the source of successfully, I discovered an outbreak of moths. In my house! In some hand knitted sweaters! I was horrified. And flew into action. We actually found very little information on the problem.

I have always stored my clothes with an immense amount of lavender. I always read that this fended off the offending critters. I have had fresh lavender sachets everywhere. In almost every drawer, hanging in little sacks from every hanger. Stuffed in little bags in my shoes and on every closet and cupboard and shelf and drawer in existence in my house. My friends have always teased me about being the lavender lady. Because my entire house smells of the stuff. Subtly though. It is not overwhelming.

Moths are said to dislike the strong fragrance of lavender and stay away from it. It did not fend them off. They came in spite of it and attacked my cashmere and alpaca and natural untreated Scottish and Irish woolens. By the time we discovered them they had made it through an unfortunate number of nice things.Luxury fibers and designer clothes are their favorites.

We found out after reading everything online and researching like crazy that lavender doesn’t really kill them. It just slightly discourages them. In our case the strain we had seems to have liked it a lot! I suspect they had developed a taste for it!

You have to kill the moths and the eggs and the larvae which are the wretched creatures that eat your silks and wools. cashmere and alpaca, etc. All luxury fibers and nothing else. The one and only way to surely wipe them out is to put every item you suspect them of being in or getting near in your freezer at temperatures lower than 32 Degrees F for at least 72 hrs. Enclose each item in a zip lock bag, get the air out and then put the bag and its contents in your freezer for 72 hrs minimum. After removing it keep the item stored in its sealed plastic bag with a small silk bag of lavender inside it. You can get the small silk bags in which to make the lavender sachets at dollar stores. Fill them with bulk organic lavender from the health food stores. That is right. Not one bag for a drawer full of sweaters. One for each sweater in each zip lock bag.

To be absolutely safe that is then how you have to store your clothes for eternity.

Moth larvae do not fly or climb onto clothes.  They walk or crawl onto them. So you should have your coats and suits and the like hanging up not sitting folded  on shelves or in drawers. No more elegantly folded stacks of cashmere sweaters. That is what I had and they just ate their way through them!

Moth balls are not an option because  they will poison you and your clothing. They stink and they are completely out of date. Passe! Unsafe and disgusting.

I inspected everything I owned and cycled everything through my freezer for 72 hours. I now keep everything I own sealed in plastic bags and in each of those I keep a lavender sachet in a small silk drawstring bag. This process took me three months. It was awful. A lot of work!

Any new item – especially anything from a thrift or consignment shop that I bring into the house – I immediately put in a plastic bag and pop into the freezer for the 72 hour freezing treatment. That includes children’s stuffed toys and all sweaters, ties, wool clothing items, etc. Even yarn and fabric. If I buy a scarf, into the freezer it goes.

I fear that we contracted the original moth problem from an item bought at a thrift store that seemed perfectly clean and got folded up and put on a shelf with another stack of sweaters. I fear it had moth eggs in it, the larvae hatched and then began munching their way through essentially everything in our home. They can get into silk drapes, wool carpets, pets, any silk or wool items and all fine natural animal fibers. They spread like wildfire.

I originally understood that dry cleaning items killed them. But I do not think it actually does so every time. I have spent an immense amount of money on dry cleaning and still found moth damage on the items. the freezer treatment is the only thing I know of that actually works.

Our freezer now has clothes in it all the time. I have cut way back on what I buy at thrift stores because of this problem. I am afraid every sweater in there is harboring moths. Same with consignment stores.

I am absolutely fastidious about caring for my clothing. I know not everyone else is. I know items may look ok but may not be. You cannot see moth larva or eggs in a knitted sweater. You can only see devastating holes after they have done their thing. Same in a silk scarf or a cashmere coat.

Most of the time moth damage is permanent and cannot be repaired. Heartbreakingly I had to throw out several cashmere sweaters this summer that got infested and had moth holes in them. The moths prefer the most expensive fibers. That is angora, merino wool, cashmere, alpaca, llama, and other expensive fibers.They also will infest fur items. Rugs and drapes, pillows stuffed with feathers, blankets, and shawls. We found out that they like clothes that have been worn the best. So the little scent of a person having worn the item attracts them as well.

Fastidiously inspect everything and freeze things for 72 hours at 32 degrees F or lower is suspect. Better to be safe than sorry.

Please share any more information you have knowledge of for killing them and controlling them without causing risk to humans.





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