Top Eco Tips for Preventing Clothes Moths

The scourge of your wool and silk, clothes moth nibble your clothes to feed themselves. Actually, it's the clothes moth grubs (sweet little baby moths!) that leave those annoying holes in your wool, silk, alpaca and cashmere.

Here are our top eco tops for eliminating clothes moths courtesy of one of the loveliest children's Merino wool clothing brand, Disana.   As Disana knit thousands of pure wool children's clothes every year and store them safely, they should know!

About the clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella)

  • A clothes moth, a nocturnal butterfly, is called Tineola bisselliella. This yellow/brown moth is under a centimeter long, is thin and narrow, with a soft glossy coat. The clothes moth is peaceful and introverted, preferring a quiet living space near its food.


Why does the clothes moth need your wool?

  • The female Tineola Bisselliella places between 100 and 250 white eggs at a time directly on to wool, cashmere, alpaca or other animal fibre fabrics.  About two weeks later light yellow caterpillars emerge.  To grow, moth grubs need a protein called keratin and this is found in animal hair (and in your own).


  • They will nibble happily through your woollen clothes - and almost any fabrics, although they can't digest  plant-based fabrics such as cotton - until they in turn pupate, leaving you with holes or bald patches on wool, silk and leather clothes and upholstery.

  • It's useful to know that moths fly and look for somewhere to settle between May and September - this is the danger time!

Top 5 tips for preventing a clothes moth infestation in  your woollens

  • 1. Woolen articles should be stored in closed plastic bags or in sealed plastic boxes.  This prevents the moths that are flying around looking to make a cosy nest from getting in.  Body odours, stains and sweat etc attract moths, so it's important to store clothes after they've been washed.
  • 2. Regular vacuum cleaning of your storage shelves is important and helps to prevent moth attacks by exposing corners to light, as well as sucking up the eggs and larvae.
  • 3. Use pheromone traps to entice and trap the male clothes moth.  Pheromone traps have a very very sticky pad which exudes a sexy pheromoney smell, drawing the male moth to them.  The fooled moth then comes to a sticky end.  Pheromone traps are very useful in telling you whether you have clothes moths about and may control a minor infestation too.  At Cambridge Baby we use them all the time.
  • 4. Moth grubs need darkness and silence for their development.  This is important.  Shake out your woollens from time to time and on sunny days, hang them out to air.  Moths will fly away and grubs will drop off.  Plus, the wool will benefit from this too!
  • 5. Moth-infested clothing, and things where there is a suspicion of infection, should be placed immediately wrapped in foil in the freezer for 4-6 days. Moth eggs and larvae freeze to death and die.

More natural defences against the wool moth

  • As a natural moth defence put some cedar, arolla pine or neem oil on a small cloth or a wooden stick and store with your woollens.
  • Ichneumons flies can be used as a biological defense. Their eggs are less than 1 mm and are laid down on the moths eggs. After a short while, the hatched larvae kill the moths eggs and larvae. This method can be used in form of small papers which are settled with Ichneumons colonies (to be found under The dimension of these useful animals is only 0,3 – 0,4 mm and therefore they can hardly be noticed with the naked eye.
  • A small bag filled with lavender is also said to be helpful - combine with cedar balls to help prevention.

With thanks to Elmar Sautter of Disana.

Let us know if you have any questions and we'll help.

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