Jump to content


Photo

Pest Control 101 For Collectors : Clothing Moths


  • Please log in to reply
24 replies to this topic

#1 kklinejr

kklinejr
  • Members
    • Member ID: 99
  • 2,886 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New York, USA

Posted 26 January 2008 - 05:21 AM

Pest Control 101: Moths (From National Geographic’s Green Guide)

Know Your Moth

Awareness of the life cycle and feeding habits of clothing moths is the first step toward banishing them from your closets. There are two main species of clothing moths in the U.S.: the Webbing Clothes Moth and the Casemaking Clothes Moth. Both have similar habits, except that their life spans differ, as well as the number of eggs they lay.
Clothing moths, unlike many other moths, dislike light and seek out dark, undisturbed places. They go through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adult moths are about half an inch long, and have no mouthparts. Their only task is to lay eggs. It is in the larval stage that moths damage clothes and other woolens. The larvae feed on wool, feathers, fur, and hair, including pet hair, and may cause damage to upholstery, fur coats, rugs, carpets, piano felt, and even feather beds, in addition to clothing and blankets. Although larvae can digest only animal fibers, they may eat through fabrics such as cotton and rayon if those fabrics are soiled, or to get to nearby wool fabrics. Larvae like soiled clothes. Sweat, food, and beverage remnants, as well as naturally occurring oils in wool fiber, are particularly attractive to moth larvae. And because the larvae are so small (about one quarter inch long), they can burrow into crevices of furniture and hide in the folds of clothing.

Moths cannot survive extremes of cold or heat. For this reason, freezing infested garments for several days, or running them through the dryer on high heat, can kill larvae and eggs (the dryer can also shrink woolens, so use only when shrinkage is not a concern).

Let the Sun Shine In

Moths can eat up woolens any time of year, but they do most of their damage in the summer. That's because summertime is when woolens are left alone in the dark, and the larvae's main requirement for feasting is a dark, undisturbed setting. One simple way to keep moths at bay is to regularly expose your woolens to sunlight. Take your sweaters out of the drawer. Shake them out vigorously and lay them on the lawn on a sunny day for an hour or two. (The shaking will knock larvae and pupae off the garment, but won't kill any eggs that might remain.) Turn them over so the sun hits both sides. Moths won't settle in a place where they are regularly exposed to sunlight.

Emptying the sweater drawer allows for some other important moth-prevention activities: if you find that you haven't worn some of your sweaters all winter, it's probably a good idea to get rid of them, as they are moth infestations waiting to happen. Also, before you put your sweaters back, vacuum your closet or wardrobe using the crevice tool attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Focus on reaching every last corner or crack, which is where moths are most likely to find peace and quiet.

Unlike clothing, furniture is not protected by regular use. Instead, make vacuuming the furniture part of your cleaning routine. Again, use the crevice device, and dispose of the contents in the dust bag promptly.

Clean Your Woolens

As larvae find soiled clothes especially yummy, one of the most important things you can do to keep clothing moths out of your closet is to clean your woolens. Storing soiled clothing in the closet is never a good idea, but it is especially true when packing woolens away for the summer. A sweater will bear the traces of sweat, skin, and food after even one wear, despite looking clean.

Most woolens can be hand washed or dry-cleaned. (Wool is an ancient textile; dry cleaning is only a recent invention!) Careful hand washing, without wringing or squeezing, can effectively avoid shrinkage and texture changes. Roll garment inside a towel to get excess water out; then shape it and dry flat.
Some items, such as large blankets, are almost impossible to hand wash; moreover, hand washing takes time. Other cleaning options for woolens include wet cleaning (which uses water instead of perc, but controls for shrinkage), and carbon dioxide cleaning (which combines CO2 with detergent to clean clothes). Cleaners using these methods can be found across the country.

Consumer Reports has tested Dryel, a product designed to "dry clean" garments in the washing machine. They found it an excellent odor remover, and pretty good (but not foolproof) at removing stains. It is less expensive than dry cleaning, and prevents exposure to dry cleaning solvents. Like all cleaning methods, it is fully effective against clothing moths.

Storage Tips

Clean, dry clothes and bedding should be stored in airtight containers. Cedar chests sometimes (but not always) have good seals, but even a plastic bag sealed with tape will work. If you are using storage boxes with loose lids, seal clothing in bags first, and then put them in the boxes. All textiles should be completely dry before storing.
Cedar oil can be helpful in deterring moths, but like mothballs, the oils must achieve high enough concentrations to be effective. Therefore, an unsealed cedar chest or cedar blocks used on open shelving will not deter moths. Even a cedar chest with a good seal will lose its helpful volatile oils over the course of a few years. To boost the anti-moth power of your cedar chest, you can treat the wood with cedar oil periodically.

Herbal sachets can make clothes smell good, and some herbs are considered to have anti-moth properties, such as rosemary, mint, thyme, ginseng, cloves and lavender.

Despite the appeal of cedar and herbs, they are no substitute for clean woolens stored in airtight containers, with periodic shaking and sunning.

Simple Tips For Collectors:

-With any incoming garments, if you don't trust or know the source, place them in air tight bags and pop them in the freezer (or, if you live in the north, outside in the cold) for a few days.

-If tempted to clean - be very cautious with your techniques and reasoning.

-Go through your collection every once in awhile for a shake-up. Moths do not like being disturbed. Take the garment off the rack for a brief "air out."

-I keep small fans circulating air behind the "dead areas" of my collection. Moths like calm air where they can settle gently; I deny them that habitat.

Edited by kklinejr, 26 January 2008 - 07:15 AM.


#2 ww2vault

ww2vault
  • Members
    • Member ID: 1,090
  • 1,465 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Carolina, USA

Posted 17 April 2008 - 11:28 AM

Hi,

I have a question, are the webbing and case-making moths visible to the naked eye? You will have to forgive me, I have never seen one before, just the destruction that they can cause. Luckily, the only moth damage I have had so far is from before I got the uniform, not since it has been in my collection. I am a big uniform collector so the clothes moths scare me as much as flesh eating beetles! :unsure:

- Jeff

#3 BEAST

BEAST
  • Members
    • Member ID: 203
  • 10,285 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:INDIANA

Posted 17 April 2008 - 11:40 AM

Is there a chemical reaction between plastic bags (i.e. garbage bags, dry clean bags, plastic clothes bags) and the uniforms? Does it matter if it is wool, cotton or a poly blend?

#4 kklinejr

kklinejr
  • Members
    • Member ID: 99
  • 2,886 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New York, USA

Posted 27 April 2008 - 05:27 AM

Is there a chemical reaction between plastic bags (i.e. garbage bags, dry clean bags, plastic clothes bags) and the uniforms? Does it matter if it is wool, cotton or a poly blend?



Dry cleaning bags and the like were designed for temporary storage/cover and will, over time, begin to break down. I don't know where most collectors stand, but I have never been a big fan of storing anything in plastic bags. The bags don't allow the garment to fully breathe and, after having seen some pieces of clothing discolor over 10 -15 years' worth of storage in these bags, I just stay away from them. Other collectors may disagree.

Ken

#5 kklinejr

kklinejr
  • Members
    • Member ID: 99
  • 2,886 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New York, USA

Posted 27 April 2008 - 05:37 AM

Hi,

I have a question, are the webbing and case-making moths visible to the naked eye? You will have to forgive me, I have never seen one before, just the destruction that they can cause. Luckily, the only moth damage I have had so far is from before I got the uniform, not since it has been in my collection. I am a big uniform collector so the clothes moths scare me as much as flesh eating beetles! :unsure:

- Jeff


Case making larvaes are actually noticeable as they are 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in length. The reason they are not so often seen is because moths specifically lay eggs in undistrubed areas. If a person has one or two coats, preventing moth damage is easy because a coat can be looked over thoroughly. The major problem with a large collection of coats is the lack of time needed to "check them over" from time to time. A net photo of case-layer larvae is below.

Take care,

Ken

Attached Images

  • casemaking_.jpg


#6 ww2vault

ww2vault
  • Members
    • Member ID: 1,090
  • 1,465 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Carolina, USA

Posted 27 April 2008 - 08:30 AM

Dry cleaning bags and the like were designed for temporary storage/cover and will, over time, begin to break down. I don't know where most collectors stand, but I have never been a big fan of storing anything in plastic bags. The bags don't allow the garment to fully breathe and, after having seen some pieces of clothing discolor over 10 -15 years' worth of storage in these bags, I just stay away from them. Other collectors may disagree.

Ken


No, I agree with you on this issue. I would also suggest that uniform collectors stray away from using plastic bags for long time storage. The uniform does have to, "breathe" and you run the risk of moisture and condensation build up if you use a plastic bag of some type.

- Jeff

#7 Tom @ Snake River

Tom @ Snake River
  • Members
    • Member ID: 4,931
  • 96 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Eastern Idaho

Posted 12 December 2008 - 09:53 PM

No, I agree with you on this issue. I would also suggest that uniform collectors stray away from using plastic bags for long time storage. The uniform does have to, "breathe" and you run the risk of moisture and condensation build up if you use a plastic bag of some type.

- Jeff


I just worked with some top conservetors from the State of Idaho, and they had a fit when they saw uniforms in dry cleaning bags.

#8 cthomas

cthomas
  • Members
    • Member ID: 518
  • 1,332 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Somewhere cold

Posted 13 December 2008 - 09:42 AM

If you guys want to store your uniforms over this way, just give me a shout. Up here in Northern Minnesota, it's already averaging below zero at night. Daytime isn't fairing any better. And if you wait until January/February, we can really freeze them out when the temps hit -30 to -40.

Ken-

Thank you very much for this insightful article. It was written in a way that made it easy on the eyes. Very practical & easy to follow along. I've been guilty of putting a book down or stop reading an article when it gets too technical.

Here's a link to a product I use for storing & at the same time, displaying my uniforms. It's what some call a mobile closet. Light gets in, breathable, & deters moths from getting at your uniforms. The one I'm posting here seems of good quality with the steel frame & breathable top. The one I purchased locally cost me about $25.00 but was half the size.

Portable Closet

-Chuck

#9 Alonzo

Alonzo
  • Members
    • Member ID: 1,470
  • 596 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Southern Alberta

Posted 03 February 2009 - 01:56 PM

This may have already been mentioned but I will say it again.
If you acquire a wool uniform jacket, shirt, trousers etc. place the article in a large garbage bag, press out as much air as you can, seal it securely and place in a deep freeze for at least 10 to 14 days. Make sure you advise the spouse what is in the bag. The freezing temps kill the larvae and eggs. After this removed the item to room temperature in a bright isolated area from your collection. Allow it acclimatize. Following this a good thorough inspection with a bright light and vacuum should eliminate most problems.
I have now established this routine for any new acquisition for the collection. The moth larvae does not like bright light and will exhibit erratic behavior...I have seen this inside a WW1 greatcoat. I shone an LED flashlight inside the lining and discovered some larvae which appeared to be doing an Irish jig in the light. Luckily I did not break the flashlight pounding on the larvae while still inside the coat.
Cheers

#10 nkomo

nkomo

    SENIOR MODERATOR

  • Senior Moderators
    • Member ID: 566
  • 8,829 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ky

Posted 23 February 2009 - 08:19 PM

My collector nightmare came true tonight. I was going through part of my collection and found larvae EATING a 150 year old Navajo rug!!!!!!!!!!!! I about crapped myself!!!!!! I quickly grabbed the rug and placed it in a bag by itself. I had placed it on a chair when I bought it, thinking I'd put it up soon. WELL.......soon turned into 6 months. I had other cotton uniforms placed on top of it and a nice 4 star Admiral flag (made of polyester) placed underneath it. Not only had the little bugs eaten my rug, they had also nibbled a few holes in my flag!!!!!!!!!!!! I am horrified right now and am in the process of washing all my cotton uniforms. The Navajo rug has been thouroughly washed with Dawn dishwashing detergent and is drip drying in my bathroom. When it dries, it will be going into my freezer for a couple of weeks.

My question is this.....can clothes moth larvae eat cotton uniforms? God, I feel so sick right now.
Arch

#11 bond007a1

bond007a1
  • Members
    • Member ID: 2,415
  • 196 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 23 February 2009 - 09:18 PM

My collector nightmare came true tonight. I was going through part of my collection and found larvae EATING a 150 year old Navajo rug!!!!!!!!!!!! I about crapped myself!!!!!! I quickly grabbed the rug and placed it in a bag by itself. I had placed it on a chair when I bought it, thinking I'd put it up soon. WELL.......soon turned into 6 months. I had other cotton uniforms placed on top of it and a nice 4 star Admiral flag (made of polyester) placed underneath it. Not only had the little bugs eaten my rug, they had also nibbled a few holes in my flag!!!!!!!!!!!! I am horrified right now and am in the process of washing all my cotton uniforms. The Navajo rug has been thouroughly washed with Dawn dishwashing detergent and is drip drying in my bathroom. When it dries, it will be going into my freezer for a couple of weeks.

My question is this.....can clothes moth larvae eat cotton uniforms? God, I feel so sick right now.
Arch



Arch...to answer your question...YES they can eat cotton as well...The damage caused by them is generally a by-product of them going after thei main food source. We had several 100% cotton clothing items including some diapers with moth larvae damage....definately NO FUN!!!!

Steven

Edited by bond007a1, 23 February 2009 - 09:30 PM.


#12 Lightning Ace

Lightning Ace
  • Members
    • Member ID: 9,389
  • 441 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Washington State USA

Posted 17 January 2010 - 02:10 PM

For moth control on my wool AAF items I use a cedar spray and if I put the item in a closet I never close the closet door I learned the hard way on a wool school type coat I had put in the closet for the summer with the door closed and the moths got to the cuffs and waistband and it was new and I was sick when i saw it the next winter.
Regards
Mike




I

No, I agree with you on this issue. I would also suggest that uniform collectors stray away from using plastic bags for long time storage. The uniform does have to, "breathe" and you run the risk of moisture and condensation build up if you use a plastic bag of some type.

- Jeff



#13 M35A2runner

M35A2runner
  • Members
    • Member ID: 8,988
  • 390 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Yucca Valley, CA

Posted 05 February 2010 - 06:24 AM

Great info,

#14 collector

collector
  • Members
    • Member ID: 1,414
  • 858 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Northern California

Posted 06 February 2010 - 04:11 PM

I also collect antique and vintage cameras and equipment, and have had some bummers keeping leather items in tupperwear, as it does not allow the breathing necessary, and encourages moisture buildup that leads to mildew. This also applies to militaria.

#15 Bluedevil

Bluedevil
  • New Members
    • Member ID: 7,173
  • 24 posts

Posted 07 February 2010 - 04:05 PM

I believe I am having an issue with clothes moths. I've dry cleaning the offended wool overcoat but apparently new moth holes continue to appear. I've tried moving the object to a different space but that did not solve the problem. Right now I have the coat in my freezer (for the second time in 2 months) I am curious of there is not some sort of
anti-moth spray that someone might recommended.
Besides an anti-moth spray I have thought about:
1. Dry cleaning again
2. Buying a plastic tub and dumping moth crystals in it and letting it set for a few weeks.

:crying:

--Pat

#16 Lindforce

Lindforce
  • New Members
    • Member ID: 10,042
  • 15 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Finland,home of "Winter War"

Posted 11 June 2010 - 08:01 AM

For moth control on my wool AAF items I use a cedar spray and if I put the item in a closet I never close the closet door I learned the hard way on a wool school type coat I had put in the closet for the summer with the door closed and the moths got to the cuffs and waistband and it was new and I was sick when i saw it the next winter.
Regards
Mike
I


I agree on the red cedar; it smells a lot better than standard moth balls and is guaranteed to be healthier,too!

#17 frayed1

frayed1
  • New Members
    • Member ID: 49,716
  • 12 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Georgia

Posted 10 July 2011 - 06:33 PM

I have a wool WWII uniform in great condition after staying in a cedar wardrobe for 60+ years.....but. I have had to remove the uniform from the old house due to vandals who broke in , tried it on and undoubtly, after wearing it a bit and finding out how scratchy wool is in July, stripped it off and threw it in the corner . ( I had removed everything else of value from the house, but had decided to leave the uniform in the cedar as long as possible. )

There is no room for the wardrobe in my tiny house, so I've used plastic bags and a garment bag for the short term......but that won't do for long.

I have seen some very attractive shadow-box style display cases for uniforms......do any of those use cedar for moth control? Do they allow for too much sunlight damage? I noticed most of the other posters seemed to keep their uniforms in the dark.

~fran

Edited by frayed1, 10 July 2011 - 06:34 PM.


#18 grrrldoc

grrrldoc
  • Members
    • Member ID: 4,277
  • 259 posts

Posted 21 August 2011 - 01:17 PM

I have used SLA spray for a few years, and so far, so good (I don't have a freezer large enough to accommodate bagged clothing!) It's a water-based pyrethin spray that kills both active moth infestation as well as larvae. I typically spray the clothing inside and out, let it dry out in the sun and air for a couple hours. I get a plastic bin, spray the inside of it with the same spray, and put the clothing in that, using the snap-on lid to close it up. I have had no issues with staining, though I do only use it on natural materials (wool, some cotton, etc.)

Anyone else tried this method?

http://www.hardtofin...ray-617933.html

Melanie

Edited by grrrldoc, 21 August 2011 - 01:17 PM.


#19 Bluehawk

Bluehawk
  • Members
    • Member ID: 3,976
  • 6,991 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:SoCal

Posted 06 November 2011 - 12:11 PM

Repairing moth (and other) holes in textiles:

http://www.withoutat.../reweaving.html

#20 V42

V42
  • Members
    • Member ID: 105,533
  • 351 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Florida

Posted 20 December 2012 - 07:09 AM

Great information and I only use the bags for transporting uniforms to the shows I attend, like the MAX and the SOS shows. It will keep them from getting soiled.

#21 NebrPatch

NebrPatch
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,886
  • 308 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Nebraska

Posted 06 April 2014 - 06:10 AM

Here's a couple of ideas I've been kicking around for small items such as patches; has anyone tried the microwave or a hot iron for killing moth eggs & larvae?  You'd probably have to start low & work your way up when using the microwave to make sure nothing gets burned.  

 

Tom



#22 NebrPatch

NebrPatch
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,886
  • 308 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Nebraska

Posted 06 April 2014 - 06:46 AM

For my microwave/iron idea, I was mainly thinking of older, felt patches.

 

Tom



#23 Alex Boban

Alex Boban
  • Members
    • Member ID: 157,805
  • 133 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Littleton, CO

Posted 10 July 2015 - 12:52 PM

Hi Guys, 

 

I will soon start freezing my uniforms for 2 weeks, let them air out for 2 days and freeze them again for another two weeks. After reading threads here and there, It seems to be the best and safest method to kill the moth larvae / eggs.

 

Should I be worried about metal, brass and bullion insignia during this process?

 

Thanks,

 

Alex 



#24 zotig111

zotig111
  • Members
    • Member ID: 8,230
  • 955 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Goin' back to Cali

Posted 15 July 2015 - 06:56 AM

Alex, I never had an issue with any metal devices or hardware when "freezing" my uniforms. I generally put them in the freezer for 30 days and then they go into the closet. As long as the item isn't damp or wet when you freeze it, the metal will be safe.

 

I also use the lavender scented moth cakes in my uniform closet. I find that the smell isn't overwhelming like the original moth balls and to date, I have found no evidence of new moth damage.

 

Hope that helps.



#25 Alex Boban

Alex Boban
  • Members
    • Member ID: 157,805
  • 133 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Littleton, CO

Posted 19 July 2015 - 07:18 PM

Thanks for the info!

No issue on plastic buttons either?

 

When I see how my freezer turns my ground beef into a brick, I'm a little worried about what it can do to insignia and buttons...

 

Other concern: What should I do about visor caps? I can't see myself putting a cap with leather bill in the freezer. Are there any other options out there to treat and protect a cap from those mean moths?

 

Alex




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users