When it comes to insects, ones of the flying variety are met with mixed emotions. Sure, bumblebees are great. And butterflies are cute. But moths….not so much. I’m sure they play a very important role in the food chain. But there is definitely no need for them to be hanging around our homes.
If moths have made their way into your home, here are some ways to give them the boot (and prevent them from coming back.)
Types of Moths
Scientifically, there are thousands of different species of moths. But we are going to narrow in on just two kinds: pantry moths and closet moths.
Pantry moths get their name from their love of dried goods. And who can blame them?
While a few moths may seem like no big deal– left unattended, one moth can quickly multiply into dozens. And soon, the unprepared homeowner may walk into their pantry one day to find webbing and larvae devouring pastas, crackers, cereal, etc. And unfortunately, once a moth has laid eggs in your flour, you will be hard-pressed to salvage any of it. I have known of entire pantries getting overrun with moths during family vacations. The lengthy cleanup and cost to replace everything make for a very rude welcome home greeting.
The other common moth that likes to make its way into your home is the notorious clothing moth that our grandparents have warned us about.
Much like pantry moths, clothing moths get their name from their food of choice. These moths not only lay their eggs in the clothing fibers, but they also love to nibble on them, leaving us with some unsightly little holes in our favorite sweaters. Luckily, these moths don’t go after all clothing–just ones made of animal fibers. So your favorite cotton dress is safe. But your silk, angora, and wool coat...not so much.
Combatting Moths Inside the Home
So now that we have established how much we don’t want them in our homes let’s talk about how to get rid of them.
When combatting a moth infestation, the first thing you want to do is remove any visible eggs, larvae and webbing you can find. This means you will want to throw out any food items that have become contaminated. Unfortunately, getting rid of moth-infested items is not a one-and-done type of thing. And simply trashing the items may not fare too well when it comes to your closet.
To fully put an end to your moth infestation, you will need to follow it up with a few extra steps to ensure that you don’t get a second wave.
Earth-Friendly Ways to Get Rid of Moths
If chemicals aren’t your thing, fear not. Here are some tried and true ways to get rid of moths that won’t leave a lasting impression on the earth or your family’s health.
Put in Some Elbow Grease
It is common knowledge that hot water and soap can do wonders when it comes to sanitizing your space. So it makes sense that cleaning with hot, soapy water is a great way to get rid of lingering eggs. Because of the change in PH, vinegar is another great way to treat your home for moths. (If you can handle the smell.) Just mix with water and start scrubbing wherever you suspect moth eggs.
Freeze Them Out
If hot, soapy water just isn’t an option (think delicate clothing fibers), you can utilize your freezer to kill those pesky moths. Simply throw the garment container in question in your freezer for 24 hours and let the ice do its work.
Spread Out Some Herbs
Unlike most of us, moths hate the smell of lavender.
Other major deterrents are bay leaves, cloves, rosemary, mint, eucalyptus and thyme. Bundle together fresh herbs or place them near your hotspots to keep moths away. A home smelling like fresh herbs sure beats the smell of mothballs. This is also one of the most cost-effective options as your herbs need only be refreshed every few months. Great smells, nice aesthetics and effective moth deterrent make this a win in my book.
Stock up on Cedar
In addition to the herbs mentioned above, moths also hate cedar.
So fill your home with it to entice your moths to migrate elsewhere. Cedar comes in a variety of forms, but all are pretty effective as long as the smell is strong enough. So let that diffuser run, spray some diluted cedar in heavy traffic areas, grab some cedar blocks and pull out those cedar hangers. To keep your cedar fresh and aromatic, you may need to lightly sand the wood every few months.
If your situation warrants a little more than herbs, vinegar and the freezer, you may opt for more heavy-duty options like sticky traps or mothballs. You will be happy to know that mothballs have come a long way from the pungent balls of the past. These mothballs are made in the US, won’t stink up your house, and have been known to help deter other unwanted pests such as squirrels and rats.
And if you seem to be fighting a losing battle, or would rather not come in contact with a moth, utilizing a local pest control company may be a good solution. Not only do these companies specialize in the removal of pests, but a lot of companies are beginning to offer more family-friendly methods. And you can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind you get when you let the experts take care of things.
Related: How to Deal With a Mouse Infestation
Stop Them from Coming Back
Once you have successfully rid your home of moths, you are ready to move into prevention mode. Or, if you have never experienced a moth infestation, here are some ways to keep them at bay.
Keep Your Dust Under Control
Where there is a build-up of dust and dirt, a moth may soon be nearby. Keeping your home vacuumed and dusted is an easy way to deter moths. Make sure to pay special attention to baseboards, corners and other dark places where moths love to hide. And remember to rotate your rags through the wash to prevent any hidden egg buildup.
Use Airtight Containers
When it comes to your pantry, airtight containers are the way to go. Not only can moths come in, but keeping the air out of your dried goods also increases the shelf life and flavor of your favorite foods. While it might be a bit of an investment to make the switch to quality containers, your wallet will thank you in the long run as you keep your food fresh and insect-free.
Store your Clothing Wisely
Moths love humid environments like garages, basements, etc. So if you rotate your clothing each season, try to avoid these places. If space is not a luxury you can afford, just be sure to properly clean (and dry!) each of your items and store them in an airtight container.
There is nothing worse than pulling out your seasonal wardrobe to discover it has become a breeding ground for hungry moths.
Moths Outside the Home
Moths outside the home don’t pose quite the same risk that moths inside the home do. However, if you have an influx of moths hanging around your porch, garage or backdoor, it’s only a matter of time before a few trickle inside.
Luckily, putting a kibosh on lingering moths by your doors can be as simple as switching your fluorescent lightbulb for a more yellow, incandescent light. Or, if the thought of reverting back to an incandescent bulb is too much to bear, you can also try turning off your porch light for a few nights. Moths love light and will gravitate towards those areas. So turning off the light for a few days might motivate them to find somewhere else.
And, for added protection in your outdoor living spaces, you can also stock cedar, lavender or citronella plants around high traffic areas.
Although small, moths can bring great havoc to your pantry and closet. But keeping your home moth-free is easier than you may think. With these simple solutions, you can keep your home (and your goods) protected.
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