You’ve just grabbed your favourite jumper from the back of the cupboard and HORROR! There are small holes all over it! Don’t panic and call in the fumigators - there are a number of ways to deal with them that don’t involve using harsh chemicals.
Freeze the critters
It’s not actually the little creatures you see flying around that are the problem, it’s the larvae laid by these moths that eat fabric, causing those little holes. To kill the larvae, put your jumpers in plastic resealable bags and pop them in the freezer for about a week. To be extra safe it’s advisable to wash your knitwear afterwards to ensure you’ve removed all traces of moth - we have a handy guide to help you!
Clean up after them
Clean the areas where you’ve found moths with a solution of 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar. This will help ensure any remaining moths or larvae have been killed, and neutralise the keratin-rich dust that moths like to eat. Clean the area at least twice to ensure all traces have been eliminated.
Prevention rather than cure
There are a few things you can do to stop moths getting into your house in the first place:
Make sure to frequently clean behind furniture and in corners where dust can gather. If you have carpets it’s important to hoover them regularly, and to remember to empty the hoover - moth larvae love warm dry conditions like the inside of a vacuum cleaner.
Use cedar balls in your wardrobe and drawers, or make your own scented bags with a mix of thyme, lavender, cloves, whole peppercorns and a broken cinnamon stick. These can be placed in drawers and wardrobes and will deter moths from eating your clothes. Essential oils can also be used, but never put them directly onto your clothes as they may stain. Be aware that once you can’t smell the scent they will need to be replaced.
Once your moth situation is under control you can look to damage limitation. If you caught the infestation early, the holes will generally be small and can easily be fixed with a needle and thread by picking up the knit and stitching to close the hole up. If you are not so fortunate and the holes in your sweater are too big to be simply stitched up you could try stocking darning and Finnish stitching.
Having moths is not a personal reflection of how clean your home is, it’s an inevitability of life. Moths are especially a problem in big cities where people are living close together and frequently moving. However, unless your infestation is really bad it’s best to stay away from commercial fumigation as the chemicals used in the process are toxic to other household insects, including spiders, bees and flies, and may even be toxic to humans.