Do Moths Eat Clothes?

Do moths eat clothes?  Yes and no.  There are only two types of moths that cause damage to fabrics.  These are the webbing clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth.  These moths are smaller than the average moth, and are about a quarter inch in length.  Little tufts of hair on their heads identify these moths.  These moths are not attracted to light, and prefer to hide in dark places.  Because clothes moths hide, it is difficult to notice an infestation until damage is done to fabrics.

It might be surprising to note that adult clothes moths do not eat fabrics.  Damage is done when the moths are in the larvae stage.  Female clothes moths lay eggs on fabrics that can be consumed.  When the eggs hatch, the caterpillar-like larvae begin feeding on their surroundings.  Larvae prefer to feed on fabrics that come from animals.  This includes wool, cashmere, silk, and other animal based products.  Fabric blends are susceptible to moth damage if the blend includes an animal product.  Cotton is a plant-based fabric, and is only damaged when casemaking clothes moth larvae use it to make a cocoon.

To protect your clothes, lower the humidity in your closet.  Frequent dry cleaning and washing of clothes can prevent eggs from hatching on your clothes.  Dirty clothes have proven to attract moths.  Mustard stains can be particularly inviting to moth larvae.  Freezing, heating, trapping, using a moth repellent, and insecticides are all available methods of control.