Moth Man Cometh


I have been having an eventful few months. A few of my sweaters were attacked by moths, someone hit my parked car, I have been extra busy on the work front, and then my sweaters were again attacked by moths. As you can tell none of the events have been what I would call positive. The worst part is that the sweater problem is still haunting me.

I store my sweaters in two areas. One of these areas is a dresser drawer and the other a cedar chest.  Even though both are stocked with cedar and lavender this is only going to discourage moths not stop them. After doing some research it appears that cedar chest are effective because they are not easy for moths to get into not because they are made of cedar.
Moth HoleThe first attack occurred in my dresser. I discovered a brand new sweater at the very bottom of the pile with a hole. I mention that it was new for two reasons. The first is that moths are attracted to clothing with stains or some dirt from wear. Second, is that only because it was new could I confirm that the moth bites happened in this drawer because all of my sweates travel between the two areas.

So, What did I do? First, I took all of my sweaters to the dry cleaner. This was annoying, but it made me feel confidant that I had taken care of the issue. I also cleaned out the dresser drawer really well. Finally I put all of the sweaters into the cedar chest. Fast forward a week and I discover another moth hole. This time I put all my sweaters in the freezer to kill off the moths, clean out the cedar chest, and Finally I put them in the plastic storage bags.

I share this because I am sure that many of you can relate to this struggle. Moths are terrifying to anyone that has a fair amount of sweaters. They are hard to see which means it is hard to know that they are there until it is too late. What I am trying to do now is move forward and stop worrying about future attacks (which is much easier said than done). I just keep telling myself that I have taken the necessary precautions and the worst case scenario is that I will have to buy some new sweaters 😉

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

11 Comments on "Moth Man Cometh"

  1. Child Doc says:

    I, like I’m sure many of your readers, share your pain! I would wonder if the problem may well have stemmed from your new sweater. Several years ago I purchased a “new” suit from a local, respected clothier. I put it in my closet only to discover several weeks later when I first wore it that it had a number of holes. As you did, I took everything to the cleaner, vacuumed the closet thoroughly, and stored each jacket/suit in a separate zippered cotton bag. Blessedly I have had no further encounters in my closet–so I feel the problem was “imported” with the new suit.
    As for sweaters, I too store them in a cedar lined cabinet and put Woodlore cedar blocks (sprayed with Woodlore Cedar Spray) in each drawer. I am very careful to wash sweaters in The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo if they are deemed to be the least bit dirty. Certainly they are treated like this before seasonal storage. Given what nice sweaters cost this elaborate care is worth it!
    Hope things otherwise (car, etc.) turn in your favor.

  2. Peter says:

    I’ve had similar problems, but only with cashmere sweaters, for better or for worse. I’ve had good results hand-washing them with Eucalan, which can be purchased on Amazon. Seems to make them more moth resistant. Also, dark drawers and backs of closets are more likely places for moths to lay either eggs; it’s the larvae that eat the wool, evidently. Try keeping your sweaters in places where clothes get circulated more often, if possible.

  3. Craig S says:

    While I’ve long heard of the dangers of moths, I can’t say I’ve ever experienced them. During winter, my wool sweaters are probably washed once a month (woolite & cold water, laid flat to dry). I keep them folded on the top shelf of my closet. During the summer, they live in a tupperware container in the basement closet. No cedar, lavender or other precautions are taken.

    I wonder if there are specific climate bands or regions in which these moths exist?

    The only insects I’ve seen in my home are the occasional house centipede or spider in the basement, maybe the rare woodlouse.

  4. Gamma68 says:

    Here’s a strategy I employ that might be helpful: after each wearing of a wool sweater, I gently brush it with my Kent garment brush before storing them back in my dresser. I also put lavender bags (which moths supposedly do not like) and cedar blocks in my drawers.

    At the end of sweater season, I wash frequently worn sweaters in Woolite with a drop of lanolin before storing them for the summer.

    So far, knock on wood, I haven’t experienced moth problems. Best of luck!

  5. Roger Russell says:

    I have had this same problem. There is a small business in the town where I live called The Reweaver. This is a one person shop that has been in business for several years. The female proprietor does excellent work to repair type of damage you have. In fact you will never know it happened. let me know if you need contact info.

  6. Charlotteville says:

    Sorry, Jerrod. I have lost a suit and several sweaters to moths over the years. Roger has good advice regarding reweaving. It works very well with knits such as sweaters and with woven woolens as well. I had a dinner jacket re-woven and it was impossible to tell where the hole had been. It’s not cheap, but is much less than the cost of new sweaters.

    • Robert says:

      Re. mothballs: I would caution against using them, for two reasons. The first is obvious: they have an unpleasant smell that lingers in clothing while being worn. The second is more insidious.

      A few years ago, I purchased a new natural latex foam pillow (I’m a side-sleeper and such was recommended to me). At approximately the same time, my wife and I began to notice a strong smell of mothballs in our apartment’s bedroom. We knew it wasn’t coming from inside it, and were mystified as to its source. After a couple of weeks, which included asking the tenants above, below and beside us if they were using mothballs (and being assured that they weren’t), I finally discovered that the tenant one floor below *and* to the side had recently placed an entire tray of mothballs in her bedroom closet. The fumes had traveled up through the wall cavity which communicated with our bedroom closet. She agreed to remove the mothballs and, sure enough, within a couple of days, the smell dissipated.

      However, before it did, a rash appeared on my face and neck and my breathing passages swelled-up. A visit to my GP resulted in a referral to an allergist who determined that the combination of mothballs and latex had produced an allergy to latex, which I did not have before, and which persists almost 4 years later. Socks and underwear waistbands, if they include latex, will produce an itching rash in the areas they contact, and even the passing smell of mothballs causes a constriction in my upper respiratory tract. It’s no wonder; the active ingredients in mothballs are toxic. Napthalene is a carcinogen and dichlorobenzene is a neurotoxin.

      To the broader point: as someone who both wears a lot of old woolen clothing and frequently brings home old things from estate sales, I am plagued by moths. The only method I’ve found that works for me in keeping them under control near my clothes is to store each sweater, muffler, etc., in its own zip-sealed clear plastic bag. After placing a folded garment in said bag (but before sealing it), I remove as much air as possible from the bag (sitting on it, rolling it., etc.) and then quickly sealing it. This coincidentally allows a greater number of sweaters to be stored in the same space (since they’re flatter), it makes pulling them out to see them even easier than if they weren’t bagged, and so far, no moth damage. I use Ziploc “Double-Zipper” “Big Bags”, which *don’t* have a sliding plastic tab (those don’t seem to hold a vacuum) like this:
      Their quality control can vary, but in general, they work well.

  7. MrErikJ says:

    I’ve never had a problem with moths, but I just wanted to give props for the Mothman image. We should’ve listened to his prophecies.

  8. bankstud says:

    I feel your pain. Having an extensive collection of sweaters I have resorted to cedar satchels in conjunction with storing pieces in clear air tight rubbermaid storage bins. These methods have been effective. Sadly I think being vigilant to the slightest moth advances by over checking on items is also part of wool/cashmere ownership. I don’t think we get to dress this well and relax.

  9. Morris says:

    I lost a few thousand dollars in expensive clothing to months. Tried everything. Here’s a solution that really works:Catchmaster Moth And Pantry Pest Trap.

    I catch about 30 moths per year in my closet with this trap.

I would like to hear from you