How to Protect Your Wool Suits & Sweaters from Moths

How to Protect Wool Clothing from Moths

With spring around the corner it’s time to start thinking about packing up your winter clothes. Storing wool clothes for long periods of time means protecting them from moths and other insects looking to dine on your threads. Taking good care of your wool clothes can cost a little bit of money, however, it’s nothing compared to the cost of an expensive sport coat.

The Culprits

The clothing moth is what you hear most frequently blamed for eating holes in wool, however it isn’t the only suspect to consider. The carpet beetle is also capable of destroying your wool items. The clothing moth prefers dark areas as does its larvae.

How Clothing Moths & Carpet Beetles Damage Wool

It is actually the larvae which eat the clothing not the adult moths. Clothing moth larvae turn keratin, which is what hair is mostly made of, into food. This is why they feed on your wool clothing. Adult female moths prefer to lay their eggs in dark places and in dirty clothing.

Preventing Moth Damage to Clothing

Dry Cleaning – Cleaning your wool suits & sweaters on a regular basis is important. While dry cleaning can be expensive, it is cheap compared to replacing thousands of dollars worth of suiting. I speak from experience having lost a wool suit, cashmere sport coat, and numerous sweaters to moths a few years ago. It isn’t fun to find some of your favorite items riddled with holes.

What I think happened is that I purchased a wool item second hand and it had moth larvae in it. Like a fool I didn’t take it to the dry cleaner before putting the item with my other wool clothing. Now, I take any wool sweaters or suits bought second hand to the dry cleaner directly after purchasing them.

Frequent Use – The best way to protect your wool clothing from moths is to wear it often. This isn’t always realistic. If you live in San Diego you don’t need to worry about storing your wool sweaters or heavy wool coats over the winter. If you live in New York City, you’re likely to have summer suits and winter suits along with sweaters, a wool overcoat, and perhaps a pea coat.

If you fall into the latter category, clean all of your wool items before storing them. After you have cleaned your wool items, store sweaters in an airtight container with cedar balls (there’s more to come later on why I recommend these over other options).

Brushing Suits & Coats – Brushing your wool coats outside with a clothes brush will knock off moth eggs and larvae. Just make sure you do this outside to prevent the larvae from staying in your home or eating your wool carpet.

Clothing Moth Traps – These will trap moths preventing them from mating and laying eggs. Moth traps are also a good way to monitor for moths after an infestation.

Regular Vacuuming – Cleaning your carpets on a regular basis, including inside your closet, will suck up any larvae hiding in your carpet.

Mothballs & Moth Crystals – These are not the best options because they contain pesticides that are harmful to pets and people.

Mothballs are also unpleasant smelling and need to be aired out and dry cleaned before wearing. There are non-toxic, natural moth repellents that in my opinion are a much better choice.

Cedar Moth Repellents – Cedar is my favorite moth repellent. It isn’t just a set and forget solution though. Cedar needs to be sanded once every few months to maintain its effectiveness.

Cedar moth repellents come in many shapes and sizes including sashes and cedar balls. My favorite are the hangers and cedar balls. I keep the cedar balls in the bottom of garment bags and the cedar hangers throughout the closet.

At the hole where the hanger comes through at the top of a garment bag. I keep cedar rings over the top of hangers and garment bags.

I give my hanging cedar pieces and cedar rounds a light sanding every few months. Once a year I also replace them.

Lavender Moth Repellents – Lavender is known to repel moths because moths don’t like the smell. You can use lavender sachets in your closet in the same way you would use cedar sachets. Another way to use lavender is to add in a few drops of lavender essential oil with your fabric softener. That said, most men won’t want to smell like lavender which is why I prefer using cedar.

Stay true to yourself. Be kind to others. Define your own style.

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