The Blog– "moth-prevention"– Bradford's Rug Gallery

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Protect Your Rugs from Moths

It's clothing moth season once again. It happens twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, moths become especially active. This is the time you will start to notice evidence of moth activity. If you see clothing moths in your home, that means you already have a problem and it's time to do something about it. If you don't see evidence of moths, it is a great time to think about taking actions to prevent them.

Known as the Common Clothing Moth (Webbing Clothes Moth or Wool Moth), Tineola bisselliella can become a serious pest if proper measures are not taken to prevent or eliminate them. Adult moths are golden in color and the wings are fringed with golden hairs. They are small, approximately 10mm-20mm long, with a wing span of approximately 15mm wide.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia


The larva of the clothing moth eat and digest the keratin proteins in wool and other natural fibers, including silk, fur, feathers and hair. They prefer to feed on items contaminated with organic materials such as spilled food, body fluids, fungal spores or pollen, so a clean rug is the first step in protecting your natural fiber carpet agains clothing moths. 

Life Cycle of a Clothes Moth

The female Clothes Moth can lay up to 200 eggs at any one time. Once the eggs hatch into moth larvae they begin to feed. The clothes moth larvae will eat until they have sufficient energy to pupate. This usually takes 2 months; however, if food is scarce or temperature are low, then they can survive for up to 2 years before spinning a cocoon. The larvae will then stay in the cocoon for between 1 and 2 months before emerging as an adult. 

Contrary to what people say adult clothes moths do not eat, the male clothes moth spends their time looking for females to mate with and the female moth looks for favourable conditions where she can lay her eggs. The adult clothes moth does not cause any damage to clothing (or rugs), it is the larvae that are responsible for causing the damage as they are constantly looking for food.         -

Development from egg to adult usually takes two to three months, but can take years, depending on environmental conditions. Clothes moths thrive in high humidity. Storing un-wrapped rugs (especially rugs that haven't been professionally cleaned) in an attic or basement is a bad idea when trying to prevent moths.


Best Preventative Measures

  • Vacuum your wool rugs regularly - including areas underneath furniture, in infrequently used rooms, and rugs that are stored for any length of time.

Unlike other household moths, clothes moths are not drawn to light, instead they prefer dark or shaded areas, which means they can usually be found in the corners of rooms, under long-standing furniture, or in rolled up and stored rugs. Rugs can be of particular interest to them as the larvae can crawl underneath and cause damage from there. The clothes moth can also crawl under skirting boards or into other cracks and crevices to feed on any debris that has gathered and then lay its eggs there.

  • Rotate rugs every 6-12 months, this will help rugs fade evenly as well as get areas of the rug that are hidden away underneath furniture out into the sunlight. As noted above, clothes months prefer the dark and seek out areas away from direct sunlight.
  • If you have any major spills, or your rug is heavily soiled from use, have your rug professionally cleaned. Clothes moths are especially attracted to rugs soiled with organic materials.
  • Store rugs wrapped in paper or plastic with desiccant packets to prevent condensation and maintain dryness.
  • Be vigilant - prevention is the best medicine - continually follow the steps above.
  • A note for those of you who love vintage and antique rugs like we do: assume that any vintage or antique rug purchased at a flea market, yard sale, or antique shop already has moths. Have it professionally cleaned and treated for moths before you bring it into your home and you will save yourself dealing with a moth infestation down the line.

Steps for Treatment

Often the damage done by these pests is our first indication of their presence because they often go unnoticed until large numbers are present and damage is apparent. Once you discover you have clothes moths

  • Immediately vacuum the top and bottom of any rugs with signs of moths or moth damage, paying particular attention to the most affected areas. Promptly remove the vacuum bag and discard outside the house.
  • Take your rugs to a professional cleaner and have them washed and treated for moths. If you cannot take your rugs directly to be cleaned, store them in air tight bags until you can get them to the cleaner.
  • Vacuum your home throughly - including under furniture, in small cracks and crevices, and places that are likely to collect dust and other particles.
  • If you have the ability freezing your rug, thawing it and re-freezing it will help ensure that any remaining eggs are killed.
  • Once the active infestation has been taken care of, follow the prevention steps listed above to avoid future infestations.

Moth Balls & Cedar

Moth balls are not 100% effective at preventing moths - they are merely a repellant - you can still get clothes moths while using moth balls. We recommend avoiding them as they have harmful chemicals. Instead use cedar blocks, like moth balls, cedar is only a preventative, but is as effective as moth balls and contains no harmful chemicals.  

If you have any questions about moth prevention or treatment please feel free to contact us. We are always here to help.

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