Easy Control of Bugs That Eat Clothes

Easy Control of Bugs That Eat Clothes
Easy Control of Bugs That Eat Clothes | image source: Matt Bertone/North Carolina State University

Numerous bug species, in addition to moths, can harm wool clothing as well as cotton, rayon, linen, and even synthetic fibers. The good news is that you can prevent bugs from eating your clothes by using certain techniques. Here are some tips for recognizing common insects and controlling infestations that are destroying the clothing in your closet and drawers.

Carpet Beetles

The sole visual distinction among the three species of carpet beetles (the black carpet beetle being the most prevalent) is in their patterns of coloration.
Around 100 soft white eggs laid by female carpet beetles in secret locations will hatch in eight to fifteen days. When the weather is warmer, they hatch more quickly. The eggs are placed on things like clothing, furniture, flooring cracks, and obviously carpet. Four generations of these beetles are generally produced in a year.

The larvae of the insect, not the adult, consume fabric. As soon as the egg hatches, it starts eating, and it prefers natural fibers like wool, mohair, fur, and feathers. When they are not feeding on your clothing, the larvae can crawl around and hide in any dark spaces, including air ducts, closets, and behind baseboards. However, they are most frequently found on fabric.

The control of carpet beetles

Only after thoroughly cleaning the baseboards, corners, and edges of the carpeting where the adults hide should insecticides be used to control carpet beetles. You must completely vacuum contaminated regions by going over them multiple times. Vacuuming should be done in a variety of patterns to move the carpet pile in all directions so that the carpet backing can be reached.

If you want to get rid of carpet beetles, you should only use insecticides after thoroughly cleaning the baseboards, carpet’s corners, and edges, where the adults hide. Infested areas need to be vacuumed thoroughly multiple times. Vacuuming must be done in a variety of patterns to access the carpet backing by moving the carpet pile in all directions.

Clothes Moths

Millions of moth species in the globe, but two of them are frequently found chewing on wool clothes.
A webbing clothing moth’s wingspan is only around half an inch. It is a weak flyer that infrequently leaves dark areas. It is a pale gold color with no unusual markings. Be cautious when you spot the adult moth. Clothing made of wool, cashmere, or mohair is not at risk. However, if two reproduce, the larvae are harmful because they feed on clothing and rip holes in it.

Depending on the humidity, temperature, and food supply, the larvae can feed for up to two years. Then, after 2 1/2 weeks, they spin a case and become adult moths. Within a year, several generations can be produced before the cycle starts over.
Larva of the case-bearing clothes moth is the worm-like insect with the hard shell that you might notice on your clothing. This creature is responsible for tearing holes in your clothes and other fabrics. The adult moths are tiny and infrequently observed.

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image source: Mike Birkhead/Getty

Full Control of clothes moths

Naphthalene, a common moth repellent, is found in mothballs or blocks. The best way to use naphthalene is to distribute the balls throughout the fabric in layers. Naphthalene should be wrapped in paper to prevent contact with fabrics because it can stain them when exposed to moisture. Plastic is not affected by it, but some metals may corrode.

The common component of moth crystals is paradichlorobenzene (PDB), which is less hazardous to people. It should be used at a high concentration for two to three weeks in sealed containers or closed spaces. Some hard plastics react with it, and it can even melt storage containers and plastic buttons. Before using, please read the instructions.
Lavender and cedar can both be used as organic moth repellents.


It stains and damages clothing and other fibers in the house in addition to its other behaviors that can lead to asthma and spread disease. The cockroach is drawn to food and drink spillage, bodily fluid and sweat stains, and laundry starch. The cockroach can weaken or cut holes in the fibers as it consumes these food sources, causing holes to show.
Additionally, their waste will stain clean clothing, frequently necessitating the use of non-chlorine bleach to remove the brown stains from washable fabrics.

Solution to cockroaches

Start by disinfecting and cleaning the regions around your clothing in order to get rid of the roaches. Insect eggs and droppings should be vacuumed up together with dirty clothing. After that, you can use baits or residual insecticides to get rid of the cockroach infestation. Chlorpyrifos or Dursban, propoxur or Baygon, pyrethrins or pyrethroid, hydroprene, and silica gel should all be present in the insecticide.

Propoxur or Baygon, boric acid, sulfluramid, or hydramethylon should all be present in roach baits. Observe the instructions on the packaging closely. Treatments will have to be repeated.
You may make your own homemade organic cockroach control solutions. Although they are less harmful, the condition takes longer to be resolved.


Not many people think of crickets as an insect that chews holes in clothing. They avoid attacking crisp clothing. However, they find laundry starch, food and drink stains, and body odor to be very alluring. The cricket will consume the stain’s remnants, and while feasting, it frequently tears the fabric’s threads. Clean clothes will get stained by cricket droppings, which frequently happens when drying clothes outside.

Take control of crickets

If you discover that you have crickets inside, start by eliminating sources of moisture and food. The ports of entry must also be located from the outside. Examine the area around the light fixtures, the floorboards, and the outside of the foundation walls for any cracks. When there are a lot of crickets, insecticides should be employed. Choose a product with the chemicals permethrin, propoxur, or chlorpyrifos (Dursban) and is marketed for controlling indoor crickets (Baygon). When selecting an aerosol or liquid product, pay close attention to the application instructions.

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Silverfish and Firebrats

The silverfish, a relative of the firebrat, is a five-legged, wingless bug that is between 1/4 and 1/2 inch long. Its body is entirely silver in color and fashioned like a carrot. Around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, gloomy regions are where silverfish can be found. They consume during the night and remain near food sources.
Natural fibers like silk, cotton, rayon, and anything starched are popular with them. Food stains and human waste invite contamination as well. When they discover a food supply, they usually remain around.They make irregular holes in the fiber as they consume the food, usually following the contours of the stain.

Additionally, firebrats are typically 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. The firebrat has a silver-and-brown spotted coat. They are five-legged, carrot-shaped insects without wings. They like warm environments over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, such as attics, and are most active at night.

Ways of Control for Silverfish and Firebrats

Similar to carpet beetles, you must first eliminate moisture and food sources that silverfish and firebrats depend on in order to eradicate them. Prior to treatment, a thorough cleaning is essential.
Choose a spray insecticide with synergized pyrethrin and pyrethroids for an infestation. Look for bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, tetramethrin, or phenothrin listed as an ingredient. Some sprays include an oil-based solution and should not be used close to gas pilot flames or electric motors. They shouldn’t be applied close to locations where food is prepared.
After cleaning, silica gel can be used to control organic stains.


When considering termites, few people think of garment damage. However, they are drawn to the food source of clothing that has body odor, food stains, or beverage stains. After eating the food, these termites now make holes in the fabric.

Control of Termites

If you have discovered a termite infestation in your clothing area, your home probably has them all around. Because over-the-counter insecticides cannot resolve the issue, professional pest control services are advised.
By thoroughly vacuuming closets, washing soiled clothing as soon as possible, clearing away debris and firewood from around your home’s foundation, and lowering moisture levels, you can improve the situation.

Article sources: 

  • Clothes Moths and Carpet Beetles: Identifying and Controlling Fabric Pests. NC State Extension Publications.
  • Paradichlorobenzene. National Pesticide Information Center.
  • Cockroaches. UMN Extension.
  • Termites – Biology and Control. NC State Extension Publications.
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