Monday, 6 January 2014

Enemy Number One for Vintage Clothing

Here's a question....Who are tiny, greedy, can make you cry, loves vintage just as much as you, and can live in your wardrobe for up to 2 years? The bastardy clothes moth!


Yes, the absolute worst has happened; moths have invaded our little home and seem to have set up camp for the long haul. We first noticed them flittering about last Spring, but they seemed to disappear, but in our ignorance, we didn't relaise that the larvae can live for up to 2 years in your clothes, happily nibbling away and destroying your precious vintage! We've tried a few things... a noxious spray that makes you choke like your lungs are on fire, cedar wood hanging things and have just invested in anti-moth strips. The annoying and upsetting thing, is knowing that the larvae is there and that you can't see it, while your lovely clothing is getting slowly destroyed.

It feels like you have tiny burglars invading your home and privacy and there is nothing you can do about it. We have been reading up on the little buggers and it seems we are not alone, with the moth population increasing rapidly, pest control have seen the number of houses they have been fumigating rise quickly over the last couple of years. This is no doubt due to a number of factors including warmer weather throughout the year, an increase in the number of clothes that we own (especially women), the 'trend' for vintage and second hand clothing, but also, and most disturbingly, the decrease in the standards of housework that would have been traditionally done methodically by stay at home housewives, with the time to continually hoover under wardrobes, empty cupboards and beat carpets.

Source

We are about to embark on a major project of emptying drawers and wardrobes, dry cleaning or hot washing *everything*, storing things in moth proof or vacuum sealed bags, and crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. I have to say that I have fared much better than my other half in the moth war. He has some lovely fair isle 40s knits and sweaters that look like they have been attacked with a cheese grater, and thats the worse thing about this whole situation, that its the vintage thats being left for dead. If it was modern clothing, whether bought on the high street or expensive designer clothing, I'd still be annoyed, but knowing that they could be replaced but lessen the blow. But the fact that its clothing that has survived maybe 50, 60 or 70 years before it entered my house, makes me feel like I am responsible for its demise!

 If you have any clothes moth related stories or tips, please share!

23 comments:

  1. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's what my husband and I fears the most!!! But never had any problem.
    Good luck...

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  2. You and your other half have my sympathy! Last Spring the little blighters set up home in my wardrobe and started nibbling at the sleeves of my wool jackets, including my prized 1940s Kaufmann's overcoat! Thankfully the damage appears light and largely unnoticeable (touch wood) but their return is something I dread and I feel just as you do about the fate of vintage clothes in my care. I also had a mass clear-out & clean-up and the nearest dry cleaner with a multi-item deal on was pressed into service. Since then I buy Raid Protect Mothproofers every few months, supplemented with Acana moth killer sachets (I even got some as a Christmas present!). Any moths that enter my home now get very short shrift, I can tell you!

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    1. Hanson's 40s overcoat has been attacked too! It's just awful! I hope that a clear out will work for us...fingers crossed!

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  3. Oh I feel for you. The tip I use often is to wash things as soon as they are bought, then stick them in the freezer for a few days in a food bag to double make sure you kill the larva or eggs. I have suffered some losses in the past but nothing major in recent years. Another tip I read somewhere is trying to not store things for long periods without wearing them, I think moths prefer things undisturbed. I do think that all vintage has to have some life span, rot and wear and tear is as intrinsic to it as any quality but it's very hard to lose something that you treasure.

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    1. Our problem is we only have a tiny compartment freezer in the top of our fridge! I am definitely going to make sure I get things out, move them around and air them or wear them though

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  4. Terrible! I‘ve learned from my mistakes and every spring I take care to wash/dry clean all woollen items, store them in a plastic bag with dried lavender stuffed in an old sock :-), plus more lavender placed on several places in the closet. This seems to do the trick. Any woollen coats are stored on a hanger, covered with those plastic covers made for the purpose, any openings held together with clothes pegs, and of course, lavender placed in the pockets!

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    1. I'm definitely going to try the lavender! Thanks!

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  5. Hi there. I lost lots of antique clothing 13 years ago (I'm getting old, clearly) and have since been on a moth killing spree. I keep all my important clothing in zip bags and my vintage fur & bags etc in large airtight cake tins (I sew for a living so all my studio and work is also kept airtight). We got rid of the moths in the last two homes using professional exterminators, there is no other way, the products you can buy yourself will not do the job, believe me, they might help keep the moths slightly under control but that's all. As you already know, you need to wash, dry clean EVERYTHING when the exterminators come in, including hoover behind all your draws etc - my biggest tip is the freezer - it kills the grubs over time (I pop things in for a few weeks). Everything vintage and spends a stint in my freezer so no new moths come into this house. Also, there are 2 kinds of moths, the case making (which are while with black dots on the wings) and nasty little gold ones, which do way more damage. Good luck!!

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    1. Air tight tins are a great idea! Thank you!

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  6. Meant to say, the above comment about using zip garment bags is also good, but you have to tape up all the openings (like at the top) with gaffer tape or similar. I do this for my vintage suits!

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  7. Oh I am so sorry, just the thought of them makes me jittery. My spouse's parents are big collectors of rugs and they had a major moth issue last year and I honestly felt nervous going to their house for the irrational fear one would somehow hitch a ride back home with us. You have my deepest sympathies!

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  8. That is so annoying. Fingers crossed for your moth killing spree. Good luck!

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  9. Oh now, sweetheart, I'm so very sorry that these evil little house guests have unpacked their even tinier bags and are setting up camp in your home. I am so afraid of months (well, what they can do - the critters themselves don't scare me so long as they're not near my clothes) and have got Tony - and the cat - both drained to kill any they see in the house immediately, lest they make their way to the closest. I sincerely hope you're able to get rid of your infestation quickly and that nothing gets truly wrecked because of them.

    ♥ Jessica

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  10. Whenever I buy new vintage, I stick bag/s in the freezer for a few days to destroy moths --- I think this also kills bedbugs.
    Betsy
    http://www.deadlyvintage.com

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  11. Bay leaves - I have them scattered around my wardrobe and have it on very good authority that they're much better than official moth repellents such as moth balls. Plus they're cheaper (or free!)

    And I agree with the usual freezing and vacuum bags. Good luck!

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  12. Oh no! We had them a few years ago and they chose to attack my favourite 60's wool jacket
    - right on the lapel - and my 60's cashmere coat. Nothing else. It's like they knew how to upset me most!

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  14. I agree with the freezer tip people have been giving you but not putting things in plastic clothes bags. I have my precious items in breathable clothes bags, more expensive but much kinder on your delicate fabrics long term.

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    1. Yes, that makes sense. Thanks for the tip!

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  15. Oh noooooooooo! I'm so sorry!!!! I hope you get rid of them asap and that no further damage is done to your vintage!

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  16. I've never had a moth infestation but to hopefully prevent one I have put cotton wool balls with clove oil and lavender oil on them in various places in my wardrobe - every couple of months I top them up/replace them.

    I don't know if it actually works but I haven't seen any moths in there.

    Chippy

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  17. Daylight - give everything a good airing, dry clean and wash where possible. I hate the little gits!

    They get into the cracks in the back of wardrobes etc, so I'd then go on an intensive anti-moth programme: anti-moth hangers in the wardrobes and Zensect balls (or similar; I like Zensect because they change colour when they've run out of oomph) in the drawers to kill the larvae, and a few pheromone traps around to take care of any emerging adults. Also, keep on top of your moth guards, as the balls need replacing about every three months, hangers every six, and I'm not sure about the pheromone traps. Cedar needs resanding every so often in order to remain useful.

    Also, do you have wool carpets? They can get into those, and between the floorboards, if you have a bad infestation.

    Probably best to install a 'quarantine' system for new vintage clothes and pop them in an airtight bag or box with a couple of Zensect balls for a couple of weeks before introducing any new items to your wardrobe.

    You can beat the blighters :-) Wishing you every success!

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