Tips to get rid of clothes moths, carpet beetles & dust mites

Getting rid of the tiny critters that can do damage to your home and clothing is tricky! Here's how.

Tips to get rid of clothes moths, carpet beetles & dust mites

1. Cloth moths and carpet beetles

The larvae of moths devour your stored clothes after hatching from eggs that have been deposited by adult moths. And it's the larvae of carpet beetles that damage your carpets.

  • Clothes moths prefer dirty or stained clothing, so make sure stored clothes are perfectly clean before you put them away.
  • Kill moth eggs and larvae by washing clothes (but not woollens) on the hottest suitable washing-machine cycle. Hang them in the sun for a couple of hours.
  • Store woollens and linens in chests made from camphorwood, which repels moths.
  • Instead of commercial moth balls, use camphorwood or red cedar balls. Alternatively, sprinkle Epsom salts, dried herbs or whole cloves among your clothes.
  • Fill muslin sachets with spice mixes and dried herbs, such as lavender, and tuck them in with your woollens.
  • Vacuum your wardrobe regularly and finish by wiping it out with eucalyptus or lavender essential oil.
  • Adult carpet beetles may enter the house on plant material. Check cut flowers for any activity as you arrange them in vases.
  • Check your piano felts for signs of carpet beetle infestation. Vacuum carefully, then place a few bay leaves inside the piano. They will act as a natural repellent.
  • To kill clothes moth larvae seal the infested item of clothing in a plastic bag and freeze it for 48 hours.
  • Steam-cleaning keeps rugs, carpets and upholstery free of fleas, clothes moths, carpet beetles and dust mites.

2. Make a moth-repellant pomander

The pomander's effect will last for years. You can buy orris root powder from pharmacists and craft stores. Tie the pomander with a ribbon and hang it in a wardrobe or closet.

  1. Use tape to divide a thin-skinned orange into quarters. Starting at the stalk end, push in whole cloves.
  2. Roll the orange in a mix of 10 g (two tsps.) each orris root powder, ground cloves and cinnamon, until coated.
  3. Replace the tape with a decorative ribbon, then hang the orange in an airy place until it is dry.

3. Destroy & deter dust Mites

Dust mites thrive in warm, humid conditions and are found in clothing, bedding, carpets and soft furnishings.

  • If anyone in your household has a dust-mite allergy, consider getting rid of the carpets and curtains.
  • To help reduce dust mite numbers, wash all bedding regularly in hot water with detergent and a good dash of eucalyptus oil. If you can, dry it in the sun.
  • Dust mites don't like dry living conditions. Let the sun and air into the house as often as possible and consider using a dehumidifier in damp bedrooms. Regularly air blankets, quilts, soft furnishings and rugs in the sun.
  • Consider buying allergen-resistant bedding – special microporous covers are available for mattresses, pillows and quilts. Their fine holes prevent dust mite infestation but still allow the air to circulate.
  • Frequently vacuum floors, bed bases and mattresses using a powerful vacuum cleaner with a high-energy particulate air (HEPA) filter, which removes dust and allergens very efficiently. Regularly steam cleaning carpets and upholstery will also help.
  • Limit the number of dust traps by keeping as much as possible behind cupboard doors. Open bookcases, cluttered under-bed surfaces and the tops of wardrobes are particular dust hazards.
  • Put children's soft toys into the freezer for 24 hours to kill dust mites. Wash them at any temperature to remove dust mite feces.
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