How to identify and control moths in the wardrobe


I grew up on a small, organic family farm and after a gap year spent working on an American ranch, I started studying agricultural science. Soil, organic farming practices, and plant science are what I am most drawn to. At home, when I'm not in our garden, you can find me in the kitchen, cooking and baking with our harvested fruits and vegetables.

Favorite fruit: Even if a bit boring - apples
Favorite vegetables: Bell peppers, red beets, zucchini, white cabbage

Do you suspect you might have a moth infestation in your wardrobe? Find out how to identify clothes moths and how to control them naturally and effectively.

A clothes moth
Clothes moths can cause great damage [Photo: Tomasz Klejdysz/]

If you discover your wardrobe has suddenly become an insect hotel for clothes moths (Tineolabisselliella), do not despair. Read on for our simple yet effective tips and tricks for getting rid of moths without using chemicals or having to call in pest control.

How do moths get into the wardrobe?

Clothes moths often make their way into our homes via second-hand clothing, carpets and furniture. Sometimes they will fly in through an open window.

Did you know? A moth infestation is not a sign of poor hygiene, but is due to the kind of fabrics you keep in your wardrobe. The moth larvae need keratin for their development, which is why they mainly target clothes made from wool, silk, cashmere, leather and fur. Clothes moths also feed on human hair and dander they find on worn clothing.

Birds nest in a tree
In nature, clothes moths are often found in bird nests [Photo: wachira tasee/]

How to identify moths in the wardrobe

Although clothes moths are quite inconspicuous, you can identify a moth infestation in the wardrobe by the small holes they leave in your clothes. Adult moths grow up to 1.5 cm long, have ciliated, shiny wings, and are dark brown to yellow depending on their diet. Flying moths are usually males in search of females. After mating, a female can lay up to 250 eggs, from which larvae hatch after about two weeks. Given ideal conditions, i.e. a temperature of 24 °C and up to 75% humidity, it takes 60 days for the larvae to develop into adult moths.

Jumpers with moth holes
Clothes moths mainly target wool, cashmere, leather and fur [Photo: Little Adventures/]

If you are unsure whether you have moths in the wardrobe or if you would like to monitor moth numbers, pheromone traps such as our Plantura Clothes Moth Traps are a great help. These moth traps for wardrobes contain sex attractants known as pheromones that attract male moths and causing them to get stuck to the trap. This enables you to detect a moth infestation in your wardrobe at an early stage as well as to monitor moth numbers and show whether your control methods are effective. However, pheromone traps are not suitable for getting rid of an infestation entirely because there is no guarantee that they will catch every single male. This means the female moths can still be fertilised and lay about 250 eggs each.

Clothes Moth Traps 6-pack
Clothes Moth Traps 6-pack
star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder
star-rating star-rating star-rating star-rating star-rating
  • 6 odourless, long-lasting clothes moth traps
  • Ideal for detecting infestations in wardrobes & storage rooms early on
  • 100% insecticide-free & non-toxic

How to get rid of moths in the wardrobe

Before starting moth control, use pheromone traps to determine if you are in fact dealing with a moth infestation. If moths stick to the traps, you can be sure you are and can start taking further steps to get rid of them. Make sure to continue using moth traps during control to detect when it has been successful. Unfortunately, if even a small number of moths survive and reproduce, you will have to start the process all over again.

Spraying clothes
Treating your clothes with chemicals should only be a last resort [Photo: nito/]

There are many chemical agents, such as moth and insect sprays, for getting rid of moths. However, since the substances they contain are often poisonous, we advise great caution when using them.

As you can get rid of moths in the wardrobe using natural home remedies, chemical agents or pest control are usually only necessary in an emergency.

A natural and environmentally-friendly alternative for moth control are ichneumon wasps of the genus Trichogramma. These tiny beneficial insects have little to do with the common wasp. They cannot fly and are incapable of stinging as they do not have a stinger. Measuring around 0.4 mm, these parasitic wasps are hardly visible to the naked eye. Ichneumon wasps lay their own eggs inside other insects’ eggs, causing the host’s larvae to die, thereby interrupting the life cycle of the moths.

Our Plantura Mini-Wasps against clothes moths belong to the genus Trichogramma and are highly-specialised to tackle clothes moths.

Ichneumon wasp on a leaf
Ichneumon wasps are very small and specialise in parasitising insect eggs [Photo: Henri Koskinen/]

Should you decide to use our ichneumon wasps, we will send you a total of six carded dispensers at two week intervals. Each delivery will contain ichneumon wasps in various stages of development, ensuring that the complete life cycle of the clothes moths is covered. One card covers an area of about 1 m², meaning you will need four cards for a standard-sized wardrobe. Since our ichneumon wasps only parasitise clothes moths, they pose no danger to humans or other animals. Once your wardrobe is free of moths, there will be nothing but dust left, even from the ichneumon wasps.

Mini-Wasps against Clothes Moths - Natural Moth Control
Mini-Wasps against Clothes Moths - Natural Moth Control
star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder
star-rating star-rating star-rating star-rating star-rating
  • Effective & chemical-free biological control for clothes moths
  • 1 one-time payment for 6 separate lots of mini-wasp cards delivered at 2 week intervals
  • Highest quality parasitic wasps - not harmful to humans or pets

Another way of getting rid of moths in your wardrobe is by treating clothes with heat or cold. You can wash heat-proof materials at high temperature and place sensitive clothes that would shrink (e.g. wooly jumpers) out in the sun covered with black foil. Alternatively, as moths do not like cold, you can also place infested clothes in the freezer for a minimum of four weeks. The only problem with controlling clothes moths using heat or cold is that, strictly speaking, all items ought to be treated at the same time to prevent moths from reproducing in clothes left in the wardrobe. To prevent newly treated clothes from becoming infested again, it is a good idea to keep them in airtight containers.

Airtight box for clothes
Moths have no chance to get into airtight boxes [Photo: Yuliya Alekseeva/]

On top of that, hoover your wardrobe thoroughly and make sure to get into every nook and cranny. Afterwards, wipe the wardrobe with vinegar water – a smell clothes moths avoid.

Preventing moths in your wardrobe

Clothes moths do not like the smell of lavender or cedar, meaning that lavender soaps, scented sachets, or pieces of cedar in your wardrobe can help keep moths away. However, they may get used to the smell over time, which is why this method is not 100 % effective. Another precautionary method is to keep only washed clothing in the wardrobe and to place particularly susceptible items in airtight clothes bags or boxes – especially winter or summer clothes when they are not being used for long periods of time. Installing fly screens and hoovering regularly can also prevent a moth infestation.

Tip: If you own a lot of susceptible clothing (e.g. wool, silk, fur or a collection of feather boas) it is safest to always have a moth trap hanging in the wardrobe. This will allow you to react quickly in the case of moths and prevent a more severe infestation.

Small lavender filled bags
Scented sachets with lavender can keep clothes moths out of the wardrobe [Photo: Chamille White/]

Did you know that moths can also infest carpets? In our article on moths in the carpet you will find helpful tips on how to get rid of these unwanted house guests.