What Repels Moths Besides Mothballs?

Learn non-toxic moth prevention strategies that keep fabrics safe without endangering health and pets like mothballs do.

February 8, 2024
min read
Subscribe to our blog and get a FREE Red Cedar Sachet.
a piece of cedar wood on top of cedar chippings
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Shipping rates apply. £1.95 UK, £4.95 Other
In this article:

Clothing moth infestations can happen before you know it - seemingly insignificant little moths lay larvae that grow up munching beloved sweaters and other treasured textiles into holey messes. Yet while moths appear delicate, stopping them calls for diligent monitoring and proactive prevention once these fabric fiends infiltrate your closets or pantry.

Though extremely effective at repelling moths despite the dangerous toxicity risks to people and pets, traditional pesticide-packed mothballs also destructively linger for decades polluting air and groundwater if discarded improperly. Safer, natural defenses not only protect clothing without endangering health, but benefit the shared environment now and for future generations.

This comprehensive guide digs into understanding precisely how clothing moths wreak havoc in households before presenting the most reliable, non-toxic strategies to get rid of moths at all stages while keeping them out for good. Go beyond surface defenses to enact lasting change by learning what attracts moths, proper cleaning/storage methods that starve them, and the best botanical deterrents backed by science. Treat root causes not just symptoms using natural essential oil solutions free of harmful lingering effects unlike mothballs. Reclaim peace of mind along with moth-free closets and basements through compassionate, conscious prevention.

How Moths Damage Clothing

Before covering how to banish moths safely and permanently from sacred household spaces, first understand precisely how these seemingly delicate insects inflict costly destruction on precious textiles. Learning exactly how moths exploit weaknesses helps motivate vigilant monitoring and proactive countermeasures vs just reacting after discovering holes. Two common culprits likely lurk behind infestations:

Clothes moths

The aptly named clothing moth (Tineola bisselliella) enters homes unnoticed as adults or eggs hiding in secondhand furniture or clothing. These thumb-sized dull gold/silver moths lay microscopic eggs that hatch quickly into fabric eating larvae. The moth larvae weave tunneling trails through natural fabrics during 6-8 weeks maturation fueled by digesting keratin protein fibers before finally pupating then emerging anew as breeding adults in 1-2 months time to repeat the cycle.

Pantry moths

Indianmeal moths (Plodia interpunctella) and Mediterranean flour moths are two common pantries pests. The former bores into any dry foodstuff containing grains or cereals. The latter focuses on consuming grain dust and debris. Both create cottony nesting materials that contaminate food. Then the emerging moth larvae spin tough silky threads that stick to shelves, walls and containers, ruining more than just the infested food itself.

Left unchecked, rapidly multiplying generations of either moth variety will gradually but inexorably destroy wool, cashmere, silk or other prized clothing, linens and textiles over time through the unceasing digestive efforts of their nesting larvae hatchlings. Tiny holes scattered across fabrics evolve into shreds rendering beloved items useless, often before full-scale infestations become visibly obvious. Catching issues early and enacting preventative measures provides the best hope stopping moths in their tracks.

How to Stop Moths From Eating Your Clothes

Guard precious natural fiber clothing, blankets and quilts from ruin by getting proactive stopping clothes moths before infestations start instead of reacting too late after discovering damaged textiles littered with larvae tunnels and holes. Implement these key strategies:

Quarantine all secondhand textiles

Even quality thrift shop scores could harbor hidden eggs or larvae. Keep isolated 2+ weeks to monitor for hatching infestations. Freezing used clothes overnight helps kill bugs but isn't foolproof.

Keep clothing very clean

Wash and dry on hottest safe settings before storage since accumulated human body oils and perspiration attract moths. Stains appeal to moths.

Avoid food contamination

No snacking or eating near stored clothes. Crumbs and spills lure fabric moths.

Inspect for early signs

Check clothing under bright light regularly for small holes surrounded by loose thread piles since larvae first gnaw inside fabrics, not surface nibbling. Also look for shed skins, light brown worm-like larvae, silver fish egg casings, or moths themselves.

Act quickly at any signs

Isolate and meticulously inspect suspect garments immediately then treat, freeze to kill bugs, have professionally cleaned or as a last resort discard infested items.

Well sealed protective storage

Pack garments very tightly in airtight containers using mothballs alternatives like cedar blocks. Prevent moths from accessing fabrics they infest.

With some diligence inspecting for early warning signs combined with proactively guarding clothes from infestation risks, even historic family heirloom textiles can stay protected from moth damage without relying on dangerous pesticides.

woman packing clothes neatly

Always Wash Your Clothes Before Storing

Proper laundering provides a potent first line defense keeping wardrobe items insect-free before storage. Both clothing moths and carpet beetles thrive off organic debris lingering in fabrics - skin flakes, bodily oils, food stains, perspiration and dirt.

Wash clothing after wearing using the warmest safe water setting then machine dry on high heat. This physically removes and kills protein containing debris moths feed on. Take special care laundering wool sweaters prone to shrinking - use cold gentle cycles then reshape and lay flat when drying.

For delicate heirloom fabrics too fragile for cleaning, seek out professional museum preservation services that use pressurized carbon dioxide for deep cleaning sans moisture or manipulation risks. This clears soils safely while killing any potentially hidden insect eggs or larvae present.

Chemical residue free dry cleaning also helps sanitize fabrics by clearing oily residues without actual water washing - just avoid oil based ‘wet cleaning’ methods that leave behind just the kinds of oils moths crave.

For clothing placed into longer term dormant storage, consider adding a natural moth prevention sachet along with cedar blocks for additional security and peace of mind even deeply cleaned items stay protected from potential future infestations.

Keep Off-Season Clothing Airtight

In addition to pre-storage laundering methods to remove skin and food debris moths seek out, preventing new contamination means keeping stored textiles physically inaccessible to wandering moths attracted by smells. The best approach involves tightly sealing clothing inside protective containers that prevent moths from gaining entry while allowing ventilation to prevent moisture buildup that encourages mold, mildew and bacteria over time.

Look for archival grade storage boxes designated acid-free and lignin-free made with high density plastic or polyethylene. These resist warping, cracking or off gassing compared to lower quality plastics and wood pulp materials. Metal cabinets or trunks also defend against fabric pests while being durable and stackable space savers.

Some key features to seek out when selecting ideal airtight storage containers for clothing include thick, securely sealing lids, breathable sidewalls that won’t foster condensation, reinforced bottoms that won’t sag or warp under stacking weight, built in cedar lining for aromatic moth repelling and portability with handles or wheels.

Commercial grade vacuum seal bags provide extreme protection for especially valuable clothing items since removing all air leaves nothing for moths or textile larvae to breathe either. Use these for the most vulnerable but unpack and re-air contents periodically. For long term storage under beds or in attics, transparent seal tight totes allow monitoring contents without unpacking while keeping clothes away from moths seeking protected environments to breed undisturbed.

Non-Toxic Moth Traps

In addition to protective storage methods keeping moths away from fabrics, effective non-toxic moth traps draw out and actively capture adult moths to control ongoing infestations by interrupting breeding cycles.

Sticky traps have adhesive glue boards that immobilize moths stopping the spread of roaming adults. Some feature discreet designs that resemble artwork for open display hanging on walls or behind furniture even in living areas. Situate out of reach from curious children and pets.

Pheromone lures use synthetically produced moth sex hormones evaporated inside traps to irresistibly attract male moths. These exploitation traps then ensnare moths attempting to reach partners that don’t exist, thereby halting mating and reproduction. Brands like Safer offer discreet funnel designs that keep light and cleaner than older sticky traps.

Natural moth traps replicate the pheromone attraction effect using benign herbal essential oils instead of synthetic chemicals. Lavender, lemon grass oil, rosemary and thyme oil all contain compounds shown in studies to pull in moths based on their seductive scents. Homemade traps combine these appealing yet harmless oils soaked into cotton balls placed inside jars or boxes that function much like commercial pheromone traps without residue or odor issues once moth carcasses get removed. They provide affordable, effective lures for capturing clothes moths.

clothes in a wardrobe free of moths

How To Get Rid Of Moths

Getting rid of existing moth populations while keeping new ones out for good requires diligently attacking all life stages since just targeting visible adults still leaves hidden eggs and larvae continuing damage before emerging as the next generation. Follow these key steps for effective, lasting relief:

Find and eliminate food sources - Thoroughly inspect pantries, kitchen corners, cracks and closets for any grains, cereals, pet food, lint, hair and other debris providing nourishment. Starve them out.

Clean and vacuum aggressively - Scrub floors, shelving, drawers and baseboards to eliminate crumbs and spill residue. Vacuum upholstered furniture and carpets daily where eggs hide.

Wash and air seal fabrics - Clean all clothing, linens and textiles since scents lure moths. Store properly sealed after fully drying.

Use pheromone traps continuously - Capture adults early spring through fall so they cannot breed again. Sticky traps or natural oil lures both work.

Apply cedar oil deterrents - Place cedar blocks, sachets andessential oils around closets and storage areas.

With diligent inspection, cleaning and trapping coupled with cedar and other natural moth prevention products, even serious infestations can get knocked out over time without toxic pesticide exposure risks mothballs bring. Stop moths at the source through non-chemical means.

Cedar Rings, Sachets or Blocks

A centuries old natural moth repellant, cedar wood effectively deters moths seeking dark undisturbed places to breed thanks to natural aromatic compounds that mask the pheromone mating signals moths follow.

Fragrant cedar rings tucked under furniture emit just enough scent to confuse moths without becoming overpowering inside closets. Larger cedar storage chests or cedar-lined closets provide intensified effects keeping moths well away from clothing, fabrics and food storage pantries. Those allergic to cedar can opt for sachets filled with cedar chips or shavings instead to get similar moth-distracting vapors without potential skin reactions some people experience handling raw cedar boards. Just keep fabrics from directly contacting oils that can occasionally stain materials.

Cedar moth preventatives work through chemical and physical means unlike toxic mothballs that poison everything around them for decades. Soft cedar also absorbs moisture helping regulate humidity levels, prevents mold and naturally resists decay thanks to built-in fungicides. Its versatile wood suits storage chests, closets, basement rafters, bookshelves, cupboards and more. Versatile cedar repels moths, mice and even mosquitos using pure plant power without lingering harms.


The deliciously relaxing aroma of lavender flowers has mellowed minds and lifted spirits for thousands of years across cultures. Yet behind its purple blooms and soothing scent, lavender also packs a formidable pest repellent punch against moths thanks to nature’s chemical arsenal crafting its fragrance.

Dried lavender flowers contain concentrated linalyl acetate, linalool, ocimene, caryophyllene and other terpenes toxic to moths that disrupt their nervous systems and delicate pheromone receptors enough to discourage feeding, breeding and habitat settling behaviors. In fact researchers found lavender repelled over three quarters of moths exposed during trials even more effectively than some commercial pesticides.

Lavender remains harmless to humans provided no skin sensitivities occur. Grow miniature "munstead" lavender cultivars in outdoor garden beds near entries. Or cut longer stem varieties to display indoors by windows in small batches that lasts approximately a week before drying.

Place generous pinches of dried lavender buds inside breathable sachets then tuck wherever moths might sneak in - under sofa cushions, behind dresser drawers, beneath sink pipes, etc. The Mediterranean aroma fills rooms while repelling moths and even fleas. Mix with other potent dried herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme for intensified effects warding off fabric pests. Refresh fading sachets monthly.

Sachets of Cloves, Rosemary, and Thyme

Beyond standalone lavender, creative combinations of other rigorously researched aromatic herbs intensify moth repelling potency inside breathable sachets tucked around susceptible rooms.

The main active moth-confusing ingredients across these plants include compounds like camphor, eugenol and various insect-toxic terpenes that serve as potent natural pesticides. Sachets lend versatility for discreet placement wherever needed most.

Here’s a closer look at top moth fighting dried herbs worth mixing together into homegrown sachets:

Clove - The antiseptic eugenol chemical inside cloves disorients moth reproduction and discourages feeding/nesting behaviors. Studied extensively as botanical moth deterrent.

Rosemary – Evergreen leaves with high camphor content kills moth larvae while deterring adults. Pairs well with lavender.

Thyme – Thymol-rich thyme interferes with moth larval and egg development plus repels adults powerfully.

Sachets filled with the right combinations of cloves, thyme, rosemary and other aromatics emanate intense moth-confusing fragrances for months without spoiling unlike fresh herbs prone to mold if not fastidiously dried first. Make your own customized moth preventative sachets. Experiment with mixing ratios until achieving the perfect potency suiting each space’s specific needs. Strategically site them wherever prone to fabric pests, refreshing every 2-3 months as scent fades. Target moths proactively with nature’s own chemical defenses!

Back to blog
Share this article

About Wood Blocks

Our mission is to empower you with the knowledge to curate a wardrobe that not only reflects your personal style but also aligns with environmentally friendly practices. From exploring the wonders of natural mothballs and sustainable garment storage to diving deep into DIY solutions and green living, we're here to guide you on a journey towards a more eco-conscious, stylish, and intentional lifestyle.

Other articles you might like

Shop Natural Red Cedar Mothballs

Pick your bundle based on your home size. You can always add extra blocks, rings and sachets.