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The home sewer/fabric stasher’s worst enemy

January 12, 2011

This is what it looks like:

Its name is Tineola bisselliella aka the textile moth. Moths feed on textile fibers e.g. from carpets, garments… or stashed fabric. They especially like fabrics of animal origin such as silk, wool or fur. They cannot digest vegetal and  synthetic fibers but they will still eat them (how mean/dumb is that?).

How to avoid getting moth:

  • pre-wash any fabric immediately after buying (you just never know), since washing gets rid of the moths or their eggs. For additional protection against moths, wash with Eucalan®, since eucalyptus is a strong moth repellent. Other natural moth repellents are cedar wood, pine wood, neem wood or the ethereal oil of any of these woods.
  • protect your stash by inserting moth repellent sheets (sold at the drugstore) every other piece of cloth or even more if stashing thick fabric or fabric of animal origin. These should be renewed twice a year. Alternatively, you can use lavender sachets.
  • go through your stash and move and control your fabric at regular intervals, especially between May and September, which is the “moth season”.

How to get rid of moths:

  • wash your fabric as hot as it will bear, or freeze it for at least a week.
  • use moth traps (available at the drugstore): these are basically sheets of paper sprayed with pheromones and a special adhesive, so the moths are attracted to the paper and once they land on it, they can’t fly away;
  • use ichneumon flies (here in Germany available on the Internet): this is the ecological method. These flies are invisible to the naked eye and feed on the moths’ eggs, so that they die out once the moths are gone. Remember, they’re invisible to the naked eye so you won’t even know you’re getting rid of them when cleaning away the dust.

There you go. I took care of my stash during the holiday, because I got paranoid after getting food moths. Luckily they’re not interested in textile fibers and since it’s still cold, they’re less susceptible to attract they fiber-greedy cousins.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2011 08:26

    I really should do this… I lost a much loved wool jersey dress to the moths a couple of years ago and I’d hate them to get at my stash. Thanks for the post!


  2. January 14, 2011 18:29

    Lavendar (the dried flowers in little bags) are also a natural way to deter moths 🙂

    It was used a lot by older generations – and is perhaps why (in the UK at least) people often say little old ladies smell of lavendar because they used it in their drawers & wardrobes as protection against the moths LOL!


  3. November 11, 2015 18:32

    This is awesome information – thank you G! I wash my woollens in a eucalytus based wool wash, but my dress fabrics rarely get that treatment. I also suspect moths are introduced when you buy something second-hand, so I plan to freeze such items for a week before letting them loose in my house!


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