Jill's Moth Saga: Freezing Out Unwelcome Guests, Naturally

Jill's Moth Saga: Freezing Out Unwelcome Guests, Naturally

Jill Slater
Jan 5, 2012

About a month ago, I noticed the occasional moth aflutter in my walk-in closet. This annoyed me, and I would do my best to find it and kill it! One day, I discovered a favorite sweater attacked vociferously by a peer of said moth. I bought a pile of little cedar blocks and distributed them throughout my closet.

A couple of weeks later, I realized this problem could no longer be ignored. There were still moths and there were additional moth eaten items.

After a childhood full of moth ball infused off-season storage boxes under my bed, I knew that I had to find another route to a moth-free life. I looked into natural solutions. My research was ripe with new-to-me facts. Moths gravitate to stained clothes or scents of food, etc. They do not randomly attack wool. I also learned that larvae are laid on these scented spots and when they are born, they eat their way out. The only way to kill larvae is to lay all the clothes in the sun, dry-clean each garment, clean them in very hot water, or freeze them. Because I live in the Financial District, going the sun route was not an option. Dry-cleaning my vast assortment of clothing, fabric, and outerwear was too expensive. Cleaning wool clothes in hot water is not recommended unless you want little tiny wool clothing. Thus began my freezing regimen.

While the timing was less than ideal — smack in the middle of the holiday season — I knew I was going to have to go full-immersion to solve my moth problem. I emptied and cleaned my walk-in closet thoroughly, closely examining the contents for signs of larvae or moths. I separated out all the wool, which ended up being more than half of everything I own! Not only was it good to dust long lost corners, the process gave me an opportunity to reassess and satisfyingly purge a number of items as well.

Upon careful investigation of my Turkish pillow, I saw that moths had gotten to the rear side of it. In a frenzy, I cut away the backing of the pillow, discarding it and all of the pillow's innards. I then went into my street, and while standing in front of the Federal Reserve building — amidst all the office workers shuffling to and fro — I beat what remained of the kilim front of all its larvae residue. The incongruities of this act made me smile.

Other culprits, or sources of concern, were my tote bags. Any crumbs left in the bottom of these bags were fodder for the moths.

After removing the middle drawer of my 3-drawer freezer, I began my rotation. In batches, I stuffed everything into the middle shelf and the space behind my compost in the top drawer and left it untouched for 24 hours.

Once a batch was complete, I put it in a sealed plastic bag. When everything had gone through the freezer, I machine washed any and all clothes that needed some extra attention in a warm cycle, and then I (organic) dry-cleaned a bunch of stuff that I felt deserved a really fresh start.

Once everything of a fabric nature in my entire apartment was reviewed and treated, I reopened all the bags and placed everything back in its place. For the pieces that need repair, I've begun a hand-mending regimen! Everything is clean and crisp. Everything has gotten the attention it deserves. It feels so good!

Images: Jill Slater

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