How To Get Rid Of Clothes Moths Naturally

Cathy on February 9, 2011

field of lavender

I hate it when moths get into my clothes but the commercial deterrents can be really dangerous, especially for children. I was reading in the papers another story about the toxicity of naphthalene. Despite the chemical being implicated in the death and injury of children, I was shocked to see that it was available on the shelf at my local hardware store.

If you have any of these things in your home, I’d recommend removing them and throwing them out straight away. It’s not worth the risk. But what do you replace them with?

Fortunately, there are plenty of effective natural deterrents that actually smell a whole lot nicer than the fusty chemical mothballs. But still take care and remember that even though something is natural doesn’t mean it is harmless – some people are sensitive or allergic to certain essential oils and you should always check any contraindications (e.g. some essential oils are not recommended for pregnant women). Also make sure that any bottles of essential oils are stored safely away from children as they can be harmful if consumed.

Moth Repelling Plants

These plants and their oils are well known for repelling moths:

  • Lavender (this is my favourite)
  • Cedar
  • Rosemary
  • Lemongrass
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Cloves

Easy to make natural mothballs

My favourite tip for preventing moths is also one of the easiest. Get cotton wool balls and lightly soak them in a repelling essential oil like lavender, rosemary, lemongrass, clove or eucalyptus. When the ball is dry to the touch scatter them in amongst your drawers. Make sure to refresh every couple of months.
Another simple method is to scatter dried herbs (e.g. rosemary, lavender, cloves) or scatter cedar chips under paper drawer liners (needs to be porous).

Line your drawers to ward away moths

You can also make up sachets using a thin natural material like cotton muslin for use in both your drawers and placed at regular intervals amongst your hanging clothes. These sachets should be filled with one or a mix of repellents such as cedar chips or balls, dried rosemary, dried lavender, cloves, or the cotton wool balls soaked in essential oils.

Moth repelling sachet recipe

A nice recipe for a moth repelling sachet is to use some cedar chips (or balls), a cotton ball soaked in rosemary essential oil and a cotton ball soaked in lavender essential oil. Make sure to refresh the cotton balls every couple of months.

How to kill pre-existing moths

If the fabric can handle it, a hot wash in temperatures 50 − 60 C (122 − 140 F) will kill any present moths. So should dry cleaning for sensitive clothes. However, the most useful method to kill moth eggs that might be present in your clothes is to put the item in a sealed freezer bag and keep them in the freezer for at least 72 hours. It’s important that the temperature of your freezer is below 0 F (18F) – if it is warmer than this, the moths can survive. This is also the recommended normal operating temperature of your freezer so it’s worth checking out anyway.

Refurbish moth damaged clothes

For clothes that have already been damaged, you don’t need to throw them away or get upset every time you see a garment’s moth bitten holes. Pick up some embroidery thread and a needle or sew over an applique to turn the fault into a feature!

Hope you find this article useful! Please let us know if you have any more moth fighting tips…

Creative Commons License photo credit: jeremy1choo

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Kev April 11, 2012 at 11:06 am

Thanks for helping out on the moth problem in my house. The moths were in the left over macaroni boxes, larvae and moths dead and alive. Clean it all up. I think I’ll use a satchel of dried rosemary in the pantry. Thanks again. Kev


Ricky April 17, 2012 at 10:49 am

Thanks Kev, for visiting, trying, and then leaving a nice comment of your experience with How To Get Rid Of Clothes Moths Naturally! It always nice to know your own experiences can benefit another. Hope to see you back sometime!

All the Best!



shamin aroma April 12, 2012 at 8:29 pm

i’ve actually tried your recipe out. I tried the rosemary/lavender sachet and it works! Plus my wardrobe smells divine!


Ricky April 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

Thanks so much for visiting I am actually very impressed that you tried the options from the post coming from an aroma scents website that has a nice product line. I actually went to your site and purchased your No Stress formula.

I am very excited to try…and, promote if you like!

All the Best,



ChrisD July 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Thanks for your tips! I read an article not too long ago about why it’s better to rid moths naturally rather than using pesticides… which I’m sure a lot of people do and aren’t aware of — Will definitely give these tips a try if I ever.. (hopefully not) need to!

Reply February 9, 2013 at 3:46 am

“How To Get Rid Of Clothes Moths Naturally” ended up being a remarkable
post. However, if it included much more images it should be possibly even better.
All the best -Ali recently posted..


Ricky April 18, 2013 at 9:13 am

Ali…good point! I like pictures as well. We will add more in the future posts…all our best to you!


Merindy Morgenson May 24, 2013 at 1:12 am

Thanks for the post about moth repellants. I’m processing wool fleeces for spinning and moths are the enemy. I have several in bags on my porch and found a moth on one of the fleeces yesterday. I searched my essential oils and found 4 of the six you recommended. So now pill bottle cotton (no cotton balls :-( soaked in rosemary/cedarwood/lavendar/clove oils are lying all over the fleeces. Here’s hoping it works as I don’t have room indoors to store them all. At least my porch smells nice :-)


Ricky May 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm


It is amazing what essentials oils can do for just about everything…topic will be good for future posts as well…peace to you!


Merindy Morgenson May 30, 2013 at 1:15 am

Merindy Morgenson recently posted..First Rose of Spring


AJ June 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Merindy, Why do you say, “So now pill bottle cotton (no cotton balls ….)” What’s wrong with cotton balls? And where does one get pill bottle cotton, except for in tiny amounts at a time, in new pill bottles?


Merindy Morgenson November 21, 2013 at 1:13 am

AJ, sorry if that was confusing. There’s nothing special about pill bottle cotton. I just meant that I didn’t have any cotton balls, not that you couldn’t use them. I’d imagine they’d work just fine. I didn’t see a single moth of any kind on the porch the entire summer. It wasn’t an especially bad year for moths, but there were plenty outside, so I’ll call it a successful experiment.


Linda June 13, 2013 at 5:06 pm

“It’s important that the temperature of your freezer is below 0 F (18F) – if it is warmer than this, the moths can survive. This is also the recommended normal operating temperature of your freezer so it’s worth checking out anyway.”

Should that be 0 C (18F)???


Wolfie July 31, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Hi! Thank you for the info on repelling those pesky little moths. My question, will the essential oils or cedar stain the wool products I’m storing?
Lovely site you all have.
Thank you,


Derrick Young August 3, 2013 at 5:00 am

Great Post , I have nine Kilts and Moths are my biggest worry , Thanks for all your help , Will be trying them all , Derrick .


Emily January 28, 2014 at 7:20 am

When I found the infestation of clothes moths in my wardrobe I quickly put all of my clothes into airtight containers and bags (after cleaning of course!)


susan April 4, 2014 at 12:51 am

Well, here goes. Heaps of clothes and fabrics, in by home. Moth infestation. And it’s overwhelming-the logistics of freezing them all, then keeping the pre-frozen ones clear till do rest! Oh well.


Liz April 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Great article! When you say “cotton wool balls” – what is that exactly and where do you get them? Thanks a lot!


Ricky May 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Hi Liz,

Basically, just the cotton balls you can get just about anywhere…white.

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

All the best to you…


Braw Day May 28, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Ironing clothes will kill moth eggs.


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