Clothes moths have long been a problem for mankind. It is believed they have been around as long as there have been animals with hair. Natural fibers are what clothing moths feed on; they have a unique ability to turn keratin, a protein available in wool, fur, horns and many other natural materials, into food. Clothes moths possess a special enzyme which does it work in the digestive track of the moth.

Though they prefer natural hairs and fabric fibers, clothing moths have been found to eat just about anything. The list includes but is not limited to snake skin, beef, just about any type of meal, milk products, finger nail clippings, human hair, pet hair or dander, wool, cotton, silk, furniture, insulation, carpets – both natural and synthetic, leather, cork and bees wax.

Though clothes moths appear to be able to eat anything but this does not mean they are able to live and prosper on such diets. Clearly some of the above items on which they feed are better suited as food items and some are not. However, the moth will take advantage of that which is available; a variety is not needed, just a good supply of something which has their needed nutrients.


Related articles (other fabric damaging pests):          BLACK CARPET BEETLES          CARPET BEETLES          CIGARETTE BEETLES          SILVERFISH

Related moth articles:           GYPSY MOTHS         INDIAN MEAL MOTHS          LAWN MOTHS          MILLER MOTHS            MOTH FLY          PANTRY MOTHS          WEBBING MOTHS

All pest control articles:      ALL PEST ARTICLES



Additionally, it has been learned clothes moths prefer fabric which is dirty or stained. They are particularly attracted to carpeting or clothes which has human sweat, urine, milk, coffee, gravy or other liquids which have spilled on them. It appears they are attracted to these areas not because of what spilled there but because the spill contains moisture – a vital need for most insects. Since moth larva do not drink water, their food must contain moisture from which they can extract their requirements.

This process is unique to several insects; clothes moths will produce a small frass like pellet which is excreted during the process of moisture removal. This frass is commonly found in carpeting or clothing where infestations have been active for some time. This behavior also supports why clothes moths will find their way to our clothing, carpeting and furniture. These three not only contain the foodstuff clothes moths need to eat but generally will have all types of food and/or water based materials spilled on them. The dry pelletized excrement is free of all moisture since the larva is able to use it all in order to remain both healthy and moist.



Clothes moths develop much like any other insect. Eggs hatch larva which feed. Once they get their fill they pupate where they undergo metamorphosis to emerge as the adult. Adults do not eat; male adults look for females and adult females look for a place to lay eggs. Once their job is done they die. Contrary to what most people believe, adult clothes moths do not eat or cause any damage to clothing or fabric.

It is the larva which is solely responsible for this; larva spend their entire time eating and foraging for food. If they find enough close to where they hatch they will spend their time eating and very little time foraging. If conditions are not providing them with enough food, larva will become mobile. They will travel as far as they have to in order to get proper nutrition.

Both adults and larva prefer low light conditions. Most moths are drawn to light but clothes moths seem to like dim to dark areas over well lit rooms. If larva find themselves in a well lit room, they will try to relocate under furniture or carpet edges.

Since hand made rugs are a favorite food item for clothes moths, it is easy for them to crawl underneath and do their damage from below. They will also crawl under moldings at the edges of rooms in search of darkened areas which hold good food.

Clothes moths can easily be confused with pantry moths. They are similar in size, can and do infest side by side and are able to eat similar food. The big difference is where they end up infesting.

Though clothes moths are able to arrive at a home in some type of grain or meal, they will move to other parts of the home where fabric is found preferring this as a main food supply. Pantry moths will readily stay where food is abundant – in the pantry.

If you are not sure which one you have, be sure to go back to our article archive section and read our article about PANTRY MOTHS. It is in depth and informative and will allow you to distinguish which one you have and thus the appropriate course of control.

Another pest which is very common and does a lot of damage to clothing and other fabrics in the home is the CARPET BEETLE. If you have seen round small beetles around the home or hairy little caterpillars about 1/4 inch long, you might have some worth treating. Carpet beetle larva eat and cause a lot of damage like clothing moth larva but their treatment is different. Refer back to our article archive where you will find an in depth article about them and how to treat local infestations.



The most common clothes moth found to infest fabric in homes and places of business is the Webbing Clothes Moth. It is found worldwide and no structure is missed. Churches, homes, carpeting stores, warehouses, museums and just about any building has the needed material on which larva of these moths feed.

Though they prefer moist conditions, it is important to understand low humidity merely slows their development. A lack of moisture is most likely to keep them eating and in their cocoons longer. It will not eradicate infestations.

Female adults don’t like to fly; males will readily fly looking for females. These are small moths; adults grow between 1/4 and 1/2 inch. Their eggs are tiny most being under 1/24th of an inch long and barely visible. Females will lay several hundred during her life and egg placement will be carefully chosen in locations where they will have the best chance for survival.

They prefer loose ragged threads of fiber and when laid, the eggs are attached with a glue like material making it almost impossible to remove with ordinary vacuuming or cleaning. This is an issue which must be dealt with when treating and will be discussed later in the article.

Unlike most insects, clothes moth eggs will hatch when ready regardless of the climate. They do not overwinter in the egg stage. Inside buildings this egg hatching will happen all year round making any time the proper time to treat suspected infestations.



Once the egg hatches, the larva will immediately look for food. They are barely bigger than the egg and though they have no eyes, larva will readily find food.

If egg placement was good, larva won’t have to travel far to find a meal. If no food is present, they will crawl in search of dinner. The larval stage appears to be critical for understanding their development and control measures.

Larva can get their required food in under two months but if conditions are not favorable, larva will feed on and off for a long time. It has been found they can stay in this stage for over two years.

Besides doing a lot of damage during this time span, larva will mislead people present into believing the infestation has been eliminated because no adults are being seen.

This can lead to improper treatment programs which serve to do nothing more than drag the process out. This will be explained later in the article.

Now it’s important to understand that even though larva do not create a case in which to live, they do spin a type of webbing around areas where they are most active. They generally will use this silken area as a place to sleep and remain protected but will venture away from it as needed to find food. Silk found on clothing or furniture is a sure sign of webbing clothes moths.

So whether it takes two months or two years, larva will eventually spin a cocoon in which they will change into adults. They will stay in these cocoon 1-2 months and then emerge as adults ready to mate and lay eggs. The average time it takes a local infestation to go from egg to egg is just about a year; the speed of development will depend entirely on food supply, humidity and temperatures.



Clothes Moth Traps 2 pkThe first tool which will prove helpful for any level of infestation is to install some CLOTHES MOTH TRAPS. These are pheromone based traps which use female sex pheromones to lure males. The attractant is much stronger than natural pheromones emitted and emerging males will not be able to resist the smell.

Clothes Moth Traps 2 pkClothes Moth Traps:


Once they get to the trap, a board of non-drying glue awaits them. They will land, get stuck and be preventing from impregnating females.

Traps will last several months and though they won’t stop eating larva, they will cut down the adult male population dramatically. This will help to prevent future egg laying and aid in control. They will also serve as a good monitoring device.

If your traps are catching more moths than you would like, more treatments will be needed. Be sure to locate them in closets, around carpets or furniture and any other room where you have activity. Try to inspect them at least once a week.



Once you have traps in place, aerosol or liquid treatments can be done. In order to prepare for these applications, it is best to do some house cleaning. This will involve different things for different areas.

First, if you have activity in a closet around clothes or other stored fabric, you will need to do a good vacuuming. You may even need to dry clean certain items. This process will help to remove moisture levels which we know clothes moths need. Make an effort to go through each piece paying particular attention to anything which is either valuable or left alone for long periods of time.

Fabric, whether clothing or bulk, can harbor infestations at different levels. Since larva will not readily migrate if the food supply is both close and abundant, you can easily miss nest locations and feeding sights. If you spend some time going through the piles of clothes and fabric you are most likely to find any droppings, webbing or even adults.

Finding any clothes moth sign like this will definitely aid in control measures so pay attention when cleaning.

And if you decide to not washing or dry clean suspected infested clothing, make a point to vacuum as much as you can. This process will take some time but this will prove to be a worthwhile investment.

Vacuuming will help to remove larva, adults and their frass but eggs and pupa are almost impossible to remove. Glue like excretions and the cocoon spinning process does a good job of affixing eggs and pupa in place.

The same holds true for carpeting. Thick carpets need to have a good vacuuming. Area rugs need to have their top side cleaned but be sure to turn as much of it over and clean the bottom.

Since hand weaved rugs generally have natural fabric through and through, clothes moths will find their way to the underside and their feeding will cause the top to come undone. However, topside treatments may not penetrate far enough to get them and turning up sides or in some cases turning the rug over may be needed to insure good coverage.

Synthetic carpeting, though it may be harboring some moth activity, usually has a some type of backing moths cannot eat. This will allow you to treat from the topside effectively. Other items which may develop moth activity include tapestries, taxidermy mounts, drapes, wreathes, linens, area rugs, stored goods or just about anything which has some natural fabric or material on which clothes moths can feed. Most of these items will need a vacuuming prior to treatments to insure good results and to maximize product effectiveness.



Once you have cleaned closets, clothing, rugs, carpeting, furniture, or anything else with activity, you are ready to treat.

And one of the simplest thing you can do is to use an aerosol which is OK for small areas. For closets, the use of such a product is somewhat practical.

Aerosols are ready to spray, easy to apply and don’t require much “dry” time. They’re very handy for use on furniture, taxidermy mounts or tapestries.

And though aerosols will kill currently active insects, they will usually not prove strong enough to knock out major infestations but they are a good starting point.



Permethrin AerosolPERMETHRIN AEROSOL has long been used as a chigger, mosquito and insect repellent and can be used on clothing or other surfaces where you want to provide some protection from clothes moth attack. It’s effective on over 50 different insects and is excellent for small jobs where you need some “light” protection.

Permethrin AerosolPermethrin Aerosol:


If you have spent the time going through your closet and are not quite sure if there is a problem in the area, treating it with some of this Permethrin would be smart. It’s odorless and a light misting will insure you don’t get holes by any fabric eating pest that might be present. Don’t waste your time with smelly moth balls which won’t work as well; treat with some Permethrin for better protection and ease of use.

Permethrine Ready To SprayAnother form of the same material is PERMETHRIN RTU. This form is liquid and though designed for use on clothing, we recommend it more for the surrounding area. Compared to the Aerosol form, the Liquid will last longer and prove more effective. This is especially true when you are treating thick carpet or closets which have a lot of moldings, cracks and crevices. Such designs and layouts offer a lot of opportunity for clothes moths as well as other fabric eating pests to hide and not be seen.

Permethrine Ready To SprayPermethrin RTU:


Purge IIIAerosol DispenserNow a step up from the Permethrin would be to install an AEROSOL DISPENSER with some METERED AEROSOL. These machines run off batteries, can be wall mounted and will provide a one second blast of aerosol every 15 minutes.

Aerosol DispenserAerosol 1000:

Purge IIIPurge:


The refills will last a month and do a great job of killing off both larva and adults. You will have to make sure you replace them each month since the pyrethrin based formulation offers no residual. This means prolonged periods of time without the machine having a full can to disperse the aerosol will allow damage to occur from hatching eggs.

Remember, the above aerosol treatments only kill larva and adults. Eggs and pupa will remain in tact and since it takes several months from these to hatch out you must be sure to have a continuous supply of Metered Aerosol.

That being said, the one advantage these systems have is that they’re well suited for small areas like closets. Additionally, once the device is configured to your liking, they’re low maintenance. All you need to do is keep the cannisters fill and replace the batteries once a year.

Bedlam-PlusBut if you’re sure there is active clothes moth problem in your closet, you probably should treat with BEDLAM PLUS. This aerosol combines an adulticide and a growth regulator so it will effectively control stages of clothes mothes. It’s ideal for use in small rooms like closets and can be applied to the carpeting, baseboards and other areas clothes moths like to nest.

Bedlam-PlusBedlam Plus:



For large areas like storage rooms and warehouses, mixing up your own formulation to be fogged will prove to be the most cost effective and efficient way to proceed.

Fogmaster 6208 TrijetFogmaster 5330With the use of either a MINI FOGGER or an FM6208, you can treat large areas quickly and effectively. These machines convert water based formulations into aerosols which project the mist great distances.

Fogmaster 5330Fogmaster Mini Fogger:

Fogmaster 6208 TrijetFM 6208:


The Mini Fogger will reach 10-20 feet, the FM6208 will reach over 30 feet. Both have adjustments so you are able to control the flow so as to prevent over application.

Remember, it doesn’t require a lot material to kill these moths and larva. Most important is the proper coverage and the use of proper materials.

Nylar IGRWhen treating with fogging machines, the best approach is to use both a growth regulator and an adulticide. NYLAR is the latest growth regulator which is essentially a protein. When certain insects are exposed to it early in development they are not able to properly mature into eating or reproducing adults. Nylar will last several weeks per application, it is odorless and will stop the cycle of clothes moths.

Nylar IGRNylar:


ExciterBe sure to add an adulticide as well and EXCITER is one which works well. It uses Pyrethrin as the active ingredient. It has no residual; pyrethrin will break down within a few hours of application. However, it is very safe, low to no odor and kills moths quickly.

Exciter6 % Pyrethrin:


Use the two together and treat at least once a month if you have valuable rugs to protect or other items in large areas.



CrusaderDeltamethrin DustDusting for clothes moths is another option of treatment and works best when you have infestations in carpeting which is wall to wall and tucked under moldings. When moths have moved under the moldings at these locations, they’re typically well protected from liquid treatments and aerosols don’t do a good enough job in such voids. Dust is best suited for these treatments and the one to use is DELTAMETHRIN DUST. It is odorless and should be applied with a HAND DUSTER.

Deltamethrin DustDelta Dust:

CrusaderHand Duster:


The hand duster allows you to get proper coverage under the molding where larva and adults will be active. Most important is that is will last 6-12 months. This insures any eggs will die as they hatch.

Deltamethrin Dust works well for long term residual but unfortunately, it’s too messy for use out in the open. Basically it’s just like baby powder and in most cases, this trait makes it unpractical for open area applications. So limit it’s use to areas under moldings, in dry storage where boxes are stored or in other inconspicuous locations.



Rugs and carpeting which have moth activity will generally need more than just aerosol treatments to get adequate coverage. Liquid applications are really the only way you can be sure to get the infestation under control.

And area rugs will need to have both their top side and bottom sides treated; wall to wall carpeting generally only needs to be sprayed from the top. Since eggs and pupa will not be killed during the treatment, you will need to use a material which will provide a residual along with a growth regulator.

D-Fense SC InsecticideNylar IGROnslaughtUse ONSLAUGHT as the adulticide and NYLAR as the growth regulator. Onslaught is odorless, easy to use and will provide great knockdown and control. DEFENSE SC is another good choice for an adulticide as well.


Nylar IGRNylar:

D-Fense SC InsecticideD-fense SC:


Pump SprayerApply it using a SPRAYER and be sure to get proper coverage. Don’t spread it too thin and treat once a month for the first three months and then once a quarter for the next year to insure the infestation is under control. If you have valuable area rugs which you want to protect it makes sense to treat them twice a year to insure no moth activity begins. This is easy to do and is the simplest way to protect a rug which could cost several thousands of dollars. Watch this short video to see what the spray pattern should look like when doing the treatment.

Pump Sprayer Pump Sprayer:



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Comments on CLOTHES MOTH CONTROL Leave a Comment

July 6, 2012

V. Quesda @ 4:41 am #


So my husband being the smart cleaner he is mopped up some milk and never rinsed the mop. He just threw it in the bucket in the garage where we keep our laundry. When I was going to mop the kitchen I did not realize he threw the mop on the kitchen floor. As I was going to attempt to mop I saw a maggot then freaked out and moved the fridge and found a couple more.

We cleaned the area with bleach, threw out the mop in a tied up bag but being laundry day they’re piles of clothes on my garage floor where I’m almost sure this started. I’m going crazy. I think they’re cloth moths. However, is it safe to throw the clothes in my washer and dryer and then just put them away like nothing? I’m freaking out; can’t sleep, not sure how to handle this. I’m sure my clothes have some on them, what do I do? How do I make this nightmare go away?

July 10, 2012

Jerilyn Sproston @ 2:50 pm #


Hello. We take care of a place that has museum-quality rugs and art. We have been using Permethrin 10 for the last several years, purchased from you, for clothing moths for rugs and floors.

I spoke today to an employee at and he told me to write you with my questions:

1. We have large oriental rugs on wood floors. Which spray should be purchased? He suggested using the Exciter (not Permethrin 10) along with Nylar. We take the rugs outside onto a porch and spray both sides, and spray the wood floors as well. Would you suggest this? He said to check with you.

2. We have many kachinas (N.American Indian art) draped in rabbit fur clothing (this may be how the moths got here to begin with). Do you have a product/protocol we can use for them that WILL NOT DAMAGE them in anyway. This art is to be protected forever from damage, and there are signs of moths eating the furs.

3. We have already dry cleaned the clothing and wool blankets and placed them in moth proof storage bags. Is this sufficient? We check them twice a year.

We would like to place an order by Wednesday if possible.
Thank you in advance for your response.

July 15, 2012

Dove Riviere @ 7:35 pm #


I have a clothes moth infestation in my 1500 sq. ft. high-rise unit. My place is vacuumed frequently, as I have three cats. I also have oriental carpets and seagrass floor covering. Is there an effective fogger that can be used throughout my home? I have used the traps, and they are full! Please advise.

July 24, 2012

Hilda Cumings @ 9:20 am #


Hi. I have a big problem moths. We have found many cocoons on our floor boards and underneath cabinets and crawling on the floors. At night you see the moth flying which we kill right away. I had my exterminator come to the house and he installed traps for grain moth with no luck.

Now I’m starting to see holes on my shirts. We had this problem in a previous apartment two years ago and before we moved to our current home we purchased a freezer and put all of our clothes in the freezer to kill eggs, larvae and adults present.

Before moving to our new home the house was tented. Now two years later we are having the same problem. Tenting the house was a horrible experience since we have four cats and they had to be medicated in order to have them over a hotel for 2 days. It was a very dramatic experience for them all. I prefer not to tent my home again since is costly and a bad experience for us and our pets! Please help me. We are DESPERATE!

July 25, 2012
February 13, 2013

Donna Wood @ 4:16 am #


I have a moth problem in my home. Based on the size of my closets and having only seen just a few larva, I would think the aerosol product would be the best treatment. However, are any of these products safe for pets to be inhaling? I have two cats.

April 19, 2013

Kim @ 9:34 am #


Hi. I live in a NY walk-up on the fifth floor. We left our ventilation window open during the winter and now that it is spring, all of a sudden moths have appeared in our house. I believe they came in through the vent window which leads down an alley way and our garbage is on the ground floor of the alley way. Now that the moths are here, I want to do whatever I can to make sure we don’t let them lay eggs and start growing. We want to kill them all. So far my closet seems safe, but not sure, they are mostly hanging out in the living room behind books. Let me know what to do. Definitely want to take all preventative measures in the closet as well. Thx.

July 14, 2013

Christie @ 8:21 pm #


Hello – we purchased a 1930’s home and when we moved in we found clothing moths. We removed all carpeting and have not put any wool clothing in the house. We thought that would do it. We saw more a few weeks later and thought maybe they were in the air ducts that had not been cleaned for 97 years (exactly). They are back. Where could they be? In cracks of wood floors? Under base boards? How do I treat?

I did find remnants of cocoons and eggs in an empty wood drawer. Will washing it with bleach kill any eggs? Thanks for your help!

July 15, 2013
September 25, 2013

jane hollingsworth @ 10:15 am #


What product would you use on fine textured wool curtains and would an aerosol applicator be sufficient . How often would I apply it please?

July 20, 2014

Dave @ 1:27 am #


I just found quite a few casings in a bag of clothes in my closet today. I’m planning on treating the closet, but I decided to wash all the clothes in the bag immediately. After a full wash and dry, I had an adult fly out while folding the clothes.

How did the adult survive both the washer and dryer? Is that normal and do I need to take further action with the affected clothing items? Thanks!

October 27, 2016

angel @ 4:29 am #


Hi. I’ve been dealing with moths and their larvae for quite a while. They’re leaving holes in my socks and t-shirts. I know I have moths because I’ve seen one every so often fly here and there around my room. I bought pro-pest sticky moth traps, but haven’t caught anything? Are you sure the metered insecticide and aerosol will keep them at bay and eventually kill them all? Also, will my clothes be hole free as long as this is in use? Does it take a while before it takes effect? I have a medium size room? Do I need one each for a closet and room? Should I place aerosol can in room or closet? Will the spray be able to fill the room from the closet and vice-versa? I keep the window open during all times of the year even during the winter to keep the room fresh and from getting stale while I’m away at work. Should I keep the window closed while this is going on? Can I still be in my room while this spray is working 24/7? Thank you!

November 4, 2016

angel @ 5:34 pm #

Hi. Thank you for you answers. Where should I apply the Bedlam Plus to my carpet? Also, should I apply to the wooden floor under the carpet as well? Is one application sufficient enough? If not, how often should I apply Bedlam to my carpet? In addition, I used to have a problem with bed bugs in a previous residence; is Bedlam Plus actually 100% effective in eliminating bed bugs as I’ve heard they are immune to most kinds of insecticides? Finally, When using the clear zone aerosol spray, should I place it on the wall in my room opposite from the closet where the other machine will be or can I just place it on the wall in my room just outside my closet which is near my closet? Or should I place it on the wall above my bed which is in the middle of my room? Also, this isn’t toxic so I can be in my room at all times of the day, correct? Thank you!

November 5, 2016
November 23, 2016

angel @ 11:51 am #

Hi. How many cans of clear zone and bedlam plus should I buy for the 2 months in order to eliminate moth larvae? Thank you! Plus I want to use it on my chair and mattress just in case?

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