Attack of the Clothes Moth!

Clothes moths do not attack your favorite garments just because they want to.

Some facts about the “clothes moth”. Scientific name: Tineola bisselliella

They are attracted to left over particles of protein-laced food residue that get imbedded in the fibers. Most damage can be found around “spill” or “splash” zones including the chest and stomach areas, lap, sleeves and cuffs. Perspiration residue under the arms attract moths as well. When our little winged pests find those areas they not only eat at the goodies, they make a comfy little nest to lay eggs. It is hard to see this without a microscope. The moth larvae imbed in the chewed up area and actually cover the holes, thus masking the damage. The area may look a bit rough but most people have no reason to assume anything is wrong. Washing or cleaning the sweater rinses away the larvae along with the damaged fibers thus exposing the moth holes.

So…you bring your favorite sweater in for cleaning and it comes back with holes. This is most likely due to moth damage that you didn’t even know existed. Let’s say you bring something in that has existing holes – guess what – there are probably more that are not visible yet.

What can be done about the damage? Sometimes darning will work, but for more extensive damage re-weaving could be the answer. It is common for your dry cleaner to suggest cleaning the garment first before ever suggesting repairs to make sure no more holes appear. Beware that re-weaving could end up costing more than a new garment!

The best way to prevent moth damage is by washing or dry cleaning your favorite woolens or garments made of natural fibers. Do not store these items over the summer thinking you will clean them right before you want to wear them. Always store seasonable garments clean. A cedar closet is great for keeping moths away. If you do not have one, there are cedar chips available that you can put in your drawers and closets that will help to deter them. Be cautious of mothballs as they can be harmful to pets and children.


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