How we picked the best clothes moth killers?
This is precisely what drove us into creating this article. To give you the best possible content we invested several dozen hours plowing through the net for information, reading consumer reviews, and comparing options.
The consumer reviews themselves turned out to be surprisingly tricky to evaluate. While most people seem honest in their attempts to give adequate feedback and information, the lack of context they often fail to provide, the emotional judgments they frequently fall prey to, and the ever-present risk of fake reviews, made the process quite tedious. Which is precisely why we had to do some practical testing ourselves one we narrowed our choices to just around a dozen clothes moth sprays.
Even then the evaluation kept offering us challenges since a lot of the products offered different ways to protect clothes from moths. They had different properties, volume, ingredients, effectiveness, long-term effects, side effects, odor, and so on. So, we had to come up with certain priorities when looking at different sprays.
We ended up focusing on several key factors: effectiveness, versatility, and convenience. For a moth spray for clothes to be worth inclusion in a “Best products” list, its effectiveness shouldn’t have been a question. Versatility is also vital as once the spray does its job and gets rid of the moth problem in your wardrobe, you should have some use for the remaining product. And of course, convenience was also important as anything that you spray on your clothes should be both harmless, at least relatively odorless, and easy to manage.
And so, after all our research and testing, we came up with the 3 suggestions we mentioned above. That’s also how we got a ton of additional information on how to get rid of bugs that eat clothes, so let’s delve into that below.
About closet moth sprays
All this makes the problem of how to prevent clothes moths in the first place as significant as it is. But to solve that problem we first need to understand how clothes moths work in the first place.
See, there are plenty of myths about clothes moths that seem to be widespread. Some people believe that cloth moths are attracted to light like a lot of other moth types, but that’s incorrect. Like roaches, cloth moths know to fear light and – particularly the female ones that stay with the eggs – hide in the dark corners to avoid being seen. To further understand cloth moths, let’s delve into their development cycles and see which cloth moths damage our clothes, as well as when and how they do it:
Male flying cloth moths
Whenever we see a flying clothes moth we are overcome with anger and frustration and hurry to kill it as if it personally chew through our favorite dress. It didn’t. In reality, the male cloth moths are the ones that fly and they don’t harm our clothes and home at all. They have poorly developed mouthparts, they live a little more than a week, and they don’t feed on fabrics for nutrition. Their only goal is to fertilize the female cloth moths. That, of course, is reason enough to get rid of them, but they aren’t the ones that actually damage your clothes.
Female flightless cloth moths
Female cloth moths have wings and can actually fly, but generally avoid doing it. They tend to stay close to the eggs and the larvae, which means that they spend most of their lives in your wardrobe, hiding in a dark corner. Also, as with the males, the female cloth moths aren’t the ones damaging your clothes either – their only goal is also just to reproduce. So, by all means – get rid of them as well, but that won’t solve the issue.
Cloth moth eggs and larvae
For people that don’t understand insect biology, it’s understandable to just view the larvae as just harmless eggs, but the larvae are the ones that actually destroy our clothes. They feed on wool and other textiles in order to grow and use their big mandibles to do so. Getting rid of the cloth moth larvae as soon as possible is of the utmost importance.
With that information in mind, we see that the purpose of clothes moth killer sprays isn’t to just get rid of the annoying flyers but to kill the males, females, and the larvae at the same time. That’s the best way to kill clothes moths effectively and make sure that they don’t come back. Just getting rid of the infested clothes isn’t a sufficient answer to how to get rid of clothes moths, as this only deals with the current generation of larvae – if the females remain alive in a corner or somewhere behind a wardrobe or a shelf, then you’re going to have the same problem very soon.
To effectively deal with a cloth moth problem, you need to deal with all of its 3 parts – eliminate the flying males, destroy the hiding females, and kill all the larvae that are currently nesting in and eating through your clothes. This is what makes good clothes moth killer sprays so effective – as they are available for wide application, they can deal with all parts of the problem.
This is also why it’s important for a great clothes moth killer to spray to be harmless to humans and pets, doesn’t have too strong of an odor, and leave no stains – because you likely want to use it on your entire wardrobe.
Different types of clothes moth killer sprays and which one is for you
One of the key things to keep in mind when looking for a cloth moth killer spray is what the best spray for your particular situation is. Your goal isn’t just to find a good spray but to find one that’s ideal for your own circumstances. Here are some key points:
Smaller or bigger can: The severity and volume of the clothes moth infestation are what determines the amount of spray you’d need. Smaller cans are typically sufficient for smaller homes, while for a situation in a warehouse or an industrial setting, larger and stronger sprays are often required. Of course, this isn’t to say that homeowners can’t take a bigger can – the good thing about most good cloth moth killer sprays is that they are effective against other types of insects as well.
More or less toxic sprays: There are some cloth moth killer sprays that are highly toxic intentionally, as they are intended for extreme situations. However, for in-home use, more natural and less toxic options are often recommended. Especially if you have kids that play around or pets that like to hide in the wardrobe, something like a natural cedar spray for moths may be the choice for you. Of course, sometimes more toxic options are necessary even if we have kids or pets. In these cases, it’s important to look for more harmless toxic cloth moth killer sprays, as well as to take the necessary precautions while applying it. We’ll go over those below.
Different types of delivery mechanisms: In this article, we’re generally talking about sprays and not about other types of clothes moth killers. Instead of a spray, you can use moth traps, moth foggers, moth killing dust, mothballs, and other products. However, even with just sprays, there are different types of attachments for different situations. Some are suitable for widespread use, others are ideal for more narrow applications. To choose the best one for your situation you’ll need to first figure out exactly where and how you’ll want to spray against cloth moths.
What’s inside of a clothes moth killer spray
To further understand which cloth moth killer spray is for you, let’s take a look inside the can. One general distinction between the different types of spray is how toxic they are. There are a lot of keywords and labels that people like to focus on like “natural” and “chemicals”. The former is typically viewed as a good thing, while the latter is demonized as something awful.
It’s important to realize, however, that from the point of view of biology and chemistry, virtually everything is a chemical. In the same way, nothing that comes to you in a tin can is really all that “natural”. And those are not bad things – the simple fact of the matter is that both more toxic and less toxic (more “natural”) cloth moth killer sprays have their uses.
If you kids, dogs and cats are constantly playing in your closet and wardrobe and you want a mild, preventive solution – go for a less toxic spray.
If you have a full-blown cloth moth invasion on your hands, buy a heavy-duty toxic killer spray, send the kids and pets to their grandma for the weekend, and annihilate every winged or larvae menace in your home.
If you’re wondering how to distinguish the ones from the others, then don’t worry. The toxicity of the spray is usually well-specified on the can itself. But if you’re looking for some keywords, keep an eye for things such as pyrethrins, pyrethroids or permethrins. These are usually involved in more toxic, heavy-duty sprays and are absent in milder, more “natural” options. Naphthalene is also a key ingredient to keep an eye on – it’s an effective but rather old-fashioned chemical that isn’t always used nowadays because of its intense and unpleasant odor.
Alternative options to clothes moth killer sprays
Clothes moth foggers: Effectively, you can view those as “anti-cloth moth gas grenades”. The clothes moth fogger is a canister with a “Total release” cap. They work by simply being deployed in a closed room and creating a fog in it for several hours that is sure to kill virtually any moth or other insects in it. Suffice it to say, this is a rather extreme measure that’s reserved for extreme situations.
Clothes moth dust: These are intended for use in hard-to-reach places and for a long-term effect. They can come in a canister or a tube and should be applied under carpets, behind baseboards, under low furniture, etc. Once applied, they are to be spread into place with something like a paintbrush. The dust is supposed to stay there for a long time, effectively dealing with any eggs and larvae that are there and preventing a future infestation. Dust is not really suitable for closets, clothes, and wardrobes, but cloth moths don’t just attack clothes – they also love to infest certain carpets and furniture types.
Mothballs are a usually less toxic preventive measure: They are supposed to stay in your closet or wardrobe full-time and keep clothes moths from entering it at all. Mothballs aren’t usually effective enough to get rid of an active clothes moth infestation, but once you’ve used a spray to do that, a mothball is good follow-up prevention you can employ.
Clothes moth killer kits: Because different cloth moth killer tools have different uses, they can often complement each other. If you’re fortunate enough, your particular situation may not call for anything more than a spray or a ball, but in some situations, you can need a big kit of several different tools to deal with the cloth moths.
Identify your specific needs as well as your possible future needs
As we mentioned, different situations require different kinds of clothes moth killer sprays and products. What’s worse than facing a clothes moth infestation, is trying to treat it with a weaker spray and seeing the situation get worse with each passing day. Another bad scenario is using unnecessarily toxic clothes moth killer spray and destroying half your wardrobe in the process.
The toxicity and the strength of the spray aren’t its only factors to keep in mind, however. If you’re buying a whole can you want to think about the possible future scenarios you may need it for. Are you worried that you may have a problem with food moths at some point? Or something like roaches or ants? Maybe you have a dog, which makes ticks and fleas a concern as well? Such considerations are important as there are clothes moth killer sprays that are versatile enough to work on all kinds of other insects as well. If you live in an area with a significant presence of insects, it makes sense to buy a larger spray with more uses and applications.
The exact physical features of the sprays’ can matter as well. Some have nozzles that are designed for a more precise and sparing use, while others have wider “Spray and pray” nozzles. The difference between the two isn’t just convenience, although that’s a factor as well – you don’t need to waste more spray than you need to with a wide nozzle. However, that difference can have more significant consequences as well.
A more narrow and precise nozzle requires you to spray more extensively and makes it easier for you to miss a spot or two. And missing a spot usually means a follow-up spread of the problem. Alternatively, a wider nozzle can be incapable of reaching certain spots in, under, above or behind your wardrobe and closet, and these are the exact places where female cloth moths tend to hide.
In pretty much any situation you don’t want to have to spray to kill clothes moths more than once, so choosing the perfect spray, can and attachments for your situation is very important.
Do your research and read the reviews
Finding the best anti-moth spray for clothes can require a fair bit of research, especially if you are facing this problem for the first time. That’s why we wrote this article in the first place but you might have to read and research even more to find a spray that you’re comfortable with buying. Reading consumer reviews is typically a big part of this process so it’s important to understand what goes into them.
Consumer reviews are often emotional, impulsive, situational and taken out of context. This can make a lot of them misleading even if they are factually correct and sincere. What some may call “strong odor” is often virtually odorless for others. What some may identify as a “serious problem” and claim that a moderately strong spray dealt with it, for others can be a minor issue and that same spray can be insufficient for their actual problem. This isn’t to say that you should refrain from reading consumer reviews, but to the contrary – that if you need opinions you should go through as much of them as you can find time for.
Unfortunately, how to kill clothes moths as effectively and conveniently as possible isn’t the only thing that matters in most situations. Budget concerns are important for a lot of people and while clothes moth killer sprays aren’t the most expensive item in the world, it’s certainly nice to save a few dollars. What can you expect cheaper clothes moth killer sprays to lack that more expensive ones have, however? What compromise are you going to face when looking at the opposite sides of the pricing spectrum?
The main things that cheaper clothes moth killing sprays compromise with are either the odor and stains or the effectiveness. You can find a lot of cheap moths killing sprays out there that are advertised as cheap and natural but don’t actually do much. They can work as a temporary preventive measure as they often don’t have too much of an odor, but a clothes mothball is more effective if you just want prevention.
The other frequently seen case is cheap and effective clothes moth killer sprays that don’t hold back when it comes to odor and stains. Such sprays can be a good option if you don’t care about those two inconveniences, but odors and stains are a serious downside when it comes to our clothes.
Of course, some cheap clothes moth killer sprays are better than others, but in this product category, the larger price is usually worth it.
Top brands you can trust
Once you’ve identified your circumstances and needs, once you’ve done your fair bit of research and have settled on a price range you’re comfortable with, it’s time to look at some specific brands. When it comes to how to get rid of moths in closets, some brands simply have more experience and proficiency behind them. Of course, as with any other business, it’s an ever-changing landscape with newer brands rising up and old ones toppling down, but here are some of the top brands we can recommend right now: Wondercide, CB Professional Products, $averPak, Moth Prevention, Terro, and Pest Expert.
Other useful information on cloth moths and how to deal with them
Cloth moths’ life cycle
An adult male cloth moth may live only 8 – 14 days, but the entire life cycle of cloth moths is quite longer than that. Typically, cloth moths go from an egg to an adult moth in 200 days (at 15°C/59 °F). This period is shorter at higher temperatures. Usually, cloth moths have 2 generations per year, with each female cloth moth giving birth to about 200 eggs at a time.
Cloth moths’ eating habits
Cloth moths (or, their larvae in particular) don’t just eat all kinds of fabrics. Their main food sources are wool items of animal origin. Clothes don’t need to be 100% wool to be attacked by cloth moths, however – even as low as 10% wool content is enough for cloth moths to take interest in a piece of fabric. Silk is also a food source for cloth moths, as are fur, leather, hair, taxidermy, feathers, and other natural textiles. If the fabric is uncleaned, that’s better for the clothes moth larvae. The reason even just 10% wool content is enough for the larvae to attack clothes is that they don’t actually eat the entire item – they chew through the fabric and only eat the parts of it that are suitable for them.
Signs of a clothes moth infestation
An obvious step before buying a clothes moth killer spray is properly (and hopefully – in time) determining whether or not you have a problem. Unfortunately, none of those signs can be found before the infestation has taken place, but catching it in an early stage is nevertheless beneficial.
- The most obvious sign is discovering holes in your clothes caused by the clothes moth larvae.
- Furrows, silky tunnels, trenches and other similar markings on wool products are also indicative of cloth moths.
- Fur shedding is also a clear sign of a clothes moth infestation.
- Damaged patches to rugs, particularly in less used areas.
- Small accumulations of fabric on clothes, rugs, and furniture, in the same color as the item itself.
- Finding actual flying moths in your fabric storage areas. This seems like a too obvious of a sign, but catching the moths themselves before they’ve laid eggs is actually the best case scenario. Of course, it almost never happens, as cloth moths are quick to reproduce once they find a suitable place. The eggs take between 4 and 10 days to hatch during the summer months and 3 or more weeks during the winter months.
Different types of cloth moths
There are actually two different types of cloth moths – the webbing clothes moths and the casemaking clothes moths. Both types are identical in appearance, with adult moths having cream-colored bodies and wings. Both types are also equally damaging to your fabrics. The only significant difference between them is the fact that casemaking clothes moth larvae leave small tubes that dangle from the fabric they are eating.
What else should you do other than simply spraying with a clothes moth killer spray
Spraying or applying another type of strong product is the best defense against cloth moths but it isn’t the only thing you can or should do. In addition to that you should also:
- Shake and thump the fabric. It seems silly, but by simply shaking the clothes or fabrics vigorously you can cause most of the eggs and larvae to fall on the floor. Once there, you can safely vacuum them.
- While this isn’t enough to make sure that you’ve dealt with the whole problem, it’s certainly a good thing to do.
- Launder everything. Every piece of clothing in your wardrobe or closet that may be infested should obviously go through the washing machine.
- Freeze them. Some fabrics can’t be washed, so an alternative solution is to seal them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer. The cold temperatures will kill the eggs and larvae the way washing them would.
- Vacuum the entire storage area. Whether before or after spraying, vacuuming your wardrobe or closet is a great idea.
What are some good prevention measures other than clothes moth sprays, moth balls or cedar balls
There are several good things you can do to lower your chances of encountering cloth moths:
- Buy fewer fabrics. People nowadays have a lot more clothes than ever before and a lot more than they actually need. The (clothes moth-related) problem with that is that cloth moths only appear in storage areas that are infrequently used. Cloth moths don’t invade wardrobes and closets that are regularly opened and used so if you don’t have unused fabrics you are a much lower risk of facing clothes moth problems.
- Keep everything clean. Uncleaned fabrics attract cloth moths much more frequently. That’s because even if you wear a piece of clothing for just a couple of hours, a thin layer of body oils is left on the clothing and that makes it much more suitable for a clothes moth infestation. Used clothes on a chair or the bed are obviously in no danger, but putting even just slightly used and unwashed clothes back in the wardrobe can spell disaster.
- Hang your clothes. Cloth moths tend to prefer stacked clothes and fabrics over hanged ones, presumably because those are more still. Hanging your clothes isn’t a guarantee, but it will reduce the risk of having cloth moths
- Seal the fabrics you don’t use. If you know you’re not going to use something for the next several months, the best thing to do is to get it dry-cleaned and seal it in a moth-proof bag.
- Vacuum your storage space regularly. When we vacuum we focus mostly on our living space and ignore storage spaces altogether. However, quickly vacuuming your wardrobe, closet and other fabric storage places regularly is a great way to prevent the appearance of cloth moths.
What can we expect from clothes moth killing tools in the future
That’s especially true for mothballs and cedar balls, where there is a lot more work to be done. All their features can do with being improved – their longevity, their strength and effectiveness, their odor, and their harmlessness and overall convenience.
Supporting products in dealing with cloth moths
We already mentioned that it’s a good idea to vacuum your storage spaces, as well as to wash, dry-clean or freeze your fabrics. However, what else might you need when dealing with cloth moths? Some of the frequently forgotten items you might need are protective items for yourself. Especially for stronger clothes, moth killer sprays you’d definitely do great to use protective goggles, a coat, a mask, gloves, etc.
Tips for using clothes moth killer sprays
Whatever you do, you need to make sure that you don’t miss any clothes, fabrics or spots in the area when you’re spraying, as this can mean a secondary clothes moth infestation pretty soon.
At the same time, with stronger clothes moth killing sprays you need to be safe. With especially strong products its best to get your children and pets away from the treated area. It’s also advisable to use protection for yourself – goggles, gloves, a coat, a mask, and so on. Stronger clothes moth killing sprays typically come with the necessary instructions and warnings, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Once you’re done with spraying, it’s also strongly recommended to keep clothes moth killer sprays out of the reach of kids and pets. Both dogs, children and sometimes cats can often open storage spaces and play with the cleaning detergents and other chemicals in them. For everyone’s safety, you should always keep such storage spaces securely locked.
When dealing with cloth moths it’s very important to be thorough. Even a single patch of infested fabric is usually enough for a new infestation to happen in a couple of months. This is what makes clothes moth killer sprays so effective – as long as you’ve got a good product and as long as you apply it well, it’s sure to deal with the problem.
And that’s exactly what the 3 products we recommended earlier are designed to do. All three of them have their strengths and uses, so choose between them (or other products you may prefer) based on your particular circumstances.
The $averPak JT Eaton Trigger Spray is ideal for heavily infested areas with a lot of cloth moths and a lot of fabrics and space to be treated. It comes in a 32oz can that’s enough for a lot of spraying. It’s an odorless spray that doesn’t leave any visible stains. It also has a wide nozzle so choose this product if you specifically need to spray a lot over large areas.
The CB-80 Contact Aerosol Spray is a smaller but similarly strong spray that’s suitable for bedroom closets and wardrobes. Its smaller size makes it less ideal for large areas, but it’s still big enough for most situations. Its narrow nozzle is what further accents that difference as it makes the CB-80 great for harder to reach spots.
The Wondercide Natural Pest Control Spray is an even more family-friendly option as it contains no toxic chemicals. It has a pleasant odor and leaves no stains. It’s also completely child-safe and pet-safe, which makes it great for frequent use around the house. The drawback is that it’s not as powerful as the previous two more toxic sprays, so only choose this product for milder problems or for prevention.