Natural Methods for Controlling or Eliminating Moths
Moths in your home can be a problem. The biggest issue they cause is that they lay their eggs in your clothes. The caterpillars then eat holes in clothes. They will also eat carpets or rugs. It has even been known for moth caterpillars or larvae to eat the felt off of piano hammers, resulting in the need for an expensive rebuild.
Traditionally, moth balls have been used to control moth larvae. However, moth balls are toxic to children and pets and leave an unpleasant odor on the treated clothes. If you have pets or young children, you may not want to spray for moths or use pesticides. Instead, consider some or all of these natural control methods.
Moths do not like the scent of cedar wood (humans often do and cedar is sometimes a component in incense). For this reason, some clothing chests are lined with cedar. However, cedar loses its scent with time.
Better alternatives are to use cedar chips or blocks, which can be purchased from hardware stores. When the scent fades, lightly sand the surface of the block to bring it back. Cedar essential oil can also be used to repel moths.
Another scent humans love and moths hate is that of lavender. There is a reason many people in England still continue the tradition of placing sachets of dried lavender in clothes drawers. Cotton balls dipped in lavender oil can also be used.
In addition to smelling great and scaring off moths, lavender has other virtues - consider placing a sachet under your pillow to promote better sleep. Lavender can also make you feel less anxious and help with headaches and joint pains.
Other herbs known to be unpleasant to moths are mint, cloves, thyme, ginseng and rosemary. Sachets containing any or a combination of these herbs will last for months.
All of these herbs, plus lavender, seem to be equally effective. Choose the single herb or blend you find the most pleasant to get the added bonus of your clothes smelling good when you put them on.
Remove Food Sources
Indian meal moths are notorious for infesting homes. Unlike clothing moths, they don't eat your clothes, but they can get everywhere and be a real nuisance.
To control these moths, keep your kitchen and pantry clean. Keep dried packaged food in sealed containers (this will also help control other pests such as ants and even mice...most vermin will move on if they can't get to the food). This includes dried pet food and seed you intend to feed to wild birds.
If you have an indian meal moth problem, avoid dried flower arrangements and be sure to close all snack containers when they are not in use.
At the end of each season, thoroughly wash and dry any clothing that is being put away. If it can be ironed, iron it - this will remove any moth larvae.
Store off season clothing in airtight bags. Vacuum compression storage bags are the best as they also mean your unused clothes take up a lot less space in the closet. If it is not convenient to do so or if you prefer to keep your coats hanging through the summer, place herbal sachets in pockets. Hardshell suitcases are also good for keeping moths away from their contents. You may want to also put long lasting dried sachets in the storage containers themselves.
Also, regularly vacuum the inside of your closet to remove any moth larvae that may be in cracks in the walls or in the carpet.
Rugs should be aired out and brushed or beaten outside at least twice a month. Moth larvae are very fragile and easy to kill.
Humidity and Temperature
Aim for a low relative humidity in your home. Moths breed faster in humid conditions (and high relative humidity is also uncomfortable and not particularly good for human or animal health either).
As mentioned before, moth larvae are fragile. You can place smaller garments in a ziploc bag and freeze them. If you live in a cold climate, consider leaving your clothes outside on a dry, cold day for a few hours...this is generally sufficient to kill moth larvae.
You can also deal with moth larvae in a closet by using a space heater to heat the space up to 105 degrees fahrenheit for four hours. If using this method, do not leave the building and stay close to the space as space heaters can be a fire risk. Resist the temptation to heat treat a closet at night.
A moth infestation can be a sign that you have a something-else infestation. Avoid using poisons to control rodents as then they will die in the skirting board and attract all kinds of nasties.
Search your home for bird or rodent nests. These tend to be in crawlspaces, basements or the attic.
Seal off as many of the cracks in your home as possible, so moths (and other pests) can't live in them.
Recently, there has been a trend for using pheromone traps to deal with moths. These traps are not dangerous to children or pets. However, you do need to make sure the trap you choose is appropriate to the species you are having problems with. If you are not sure what kind of moth you have, then buy a multi-pack that contains several different kinds of trap. These pheromone traps attract only male moths and are often used to monitor what kinds of moth might be around, but can also break the breeding cycle by catching all the males.