Have you discovered damage to your clothing and accessories? Did you uncover the tell-tale signs of insects visiting in your custom closets? Don’t put your house on the market just yet.
You can protect your clothes and wardrobe from pests, and rid them from your home altogether, with six straightforward steps:
- Learn about the pests native to your area
- Pick the right preventative techniques
- Know the warning signs of a potential infestation
- Keep your closets organized
- Avoid ineffective techniques
- Choose Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Find out why the path to clean, safe closets without disgusting creepy crawlers is easier than you think! These techniques will protect your clothing and let you sleep more soundly at night again.
Learn About the Pests You May Encounter
HUD explains that an important first step in fighting off pests and protecting your clothes and wardrobe is to know the species you’re most likely to find. Every region of the country offers a slightly different set of insects and other pests that may enter your home. Knowing the species you’re most likely to encounter will help you predict their behavior and figure out where they’re coming from.
According to the LSU AgCenter, the state of Louisiana has several indoor insects that pose a threat to your clothing:
- Carpet Beetles
- Clothes Moths
Unsure which type of pests you may be at risk of harboring in your home? You can use sticky traps near windows and other common entry points to get a sample of the pests.
Choose Prevention First
As the old adage notes, prevention always beats treatment, and that also applies to protecting your clothes, wardrobe, and accessories from pests. You might think you’re making all the right moves to keep your home pest-free, but you may be doing way more harm than you even realize.
Did you know that you may be unintentionally introducing savory food items to your closets, dressers, armoires, and other storage spaces for clothes? This may seem outlandish until you realize that bugs have an appetite for some specific foods. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Vector Management Program explains that insects are attracted to delectable treats, including fruit-based beverages. Some pests are specifically attracted to the vitamin D provided by these items. Even sweat can attract insects, making it essential that you quickly wash dirty clothes as soon as possible.
Here’s another not-so-obvious tip: Never bring pests into your home. You may find this point basic, but it’s not always easy to know your risks when you’re dealing with pests that come and go by acting like the Trojan Horse. One notorious insect known for covertly entering homes are bed bugs. The EPA explains that they can hitch a ride on any number of items that you bring inside, including purses, used clothing, furniture, and boxes. Your best move is to never introduce these items without first inspecting them to ensure they show no signs of harboring these unwanted invaders.
Watch for the Warning Signs of Pests
Once an infestation takes hold, it can be difficult to eliminate. And if the pests find an ample food supply and generally low-traffic environment, pests like clothes moths can become comfortable very quickly.
Unfortunately, these moths aren’t going to explode into a flying swarm every time you open your closet door. They tend to stay hidden from sight, so it takes some work to spot them. To prevent a big colony from making your closets their own, keep an eye out for subtle indications that hint at a big problem:
- Fabric damage
- Pest excrement
- Insect larvae
If you spot any of these warning signs, take immediate action to prevent damage to your items. The sooner you eliminate these pests, the better.
Use Custom Closets to Stay Organized and Repel Pests
Organization is the enemy to bugs and rodents. Want a pest-free closet? Keep it neat and tidy without a lot of unnecessary items that you never use. Household pests are attracted to areas of your home in disarray, and your closets are one of those hotspots that probably aren’t as neat as the rest of your home.
Well-designed closet spaces can dramatically cut down on the risk of bugs and rodents because the clutter-free space will naturally discourage these invaders in the first place. Your dirty items will be in your laundry room where they belong. Your clothes will be spaced out to allow proper air circulation, and your corners will be free of the pesky stacks of items that welcome in unwanted guests. All pests, regardless of their species, need three things to survive: food, water, and shelter. If you take away their safe shelter, they’ll go looking for another place to make their home.
Clean Your Closets Regularly
Think the closet doesn’t offer those insects anything to eat if you’ve carefully cleaned all of your clothes before putting them away? Think again. A jungle of random clothing and accessories may not look very appealing to you, but it’s a buffet for pests. Bugs can make a meal out of things you’d never consider edible.
The University of Kentucky explains that clothes moths, in particular, are voracious insects that will eat a variety of materials found in your closets:
- Hair & Fur
If you have any old clothing items in your closet that you don’t plan on ever wearing and have no sentimental attachment to, don’t hold onto them. Clean out your closets, dressers, and armoires to avoid inviting in pests. The more deteriorating, unused items in your home, the more potential food sources. If you do have special clothing items that you want to keep, clean them regularly, even if they haven’t been worn.
In addition to eliminating unnecessary items that pests like to eat, you can prevent them by regularly cleaning the spaces where you keep these clothes. Insects like clothes moths prefer living in dark areas of your home that are rarely disturbed, so you should frequently hit these spaces with the vacuum to eliminate their sense of comfort. When cleaning, make sure you pay extra attention to the areas of the carpet under baseboards and around windows, which are areas where insects like to hang out and enter your home.
Avoid Ineffective Prevention Techniques
Want to know two common preventative products that may not live up to their hype? Mothballs and cedarwood.
Unless they’re enclosed in a small space where their gasses can reach high concentrations, mothballs offer little protection from clothes moths or other pests. Worse still, they pose a significant health risk. According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the gasses given off by these repellants can range from relatively minor health issues, such as headache, dizziness, and nausea, to much more serious problems, such as cancer and red blood cell damage.
Although it does not pose the same health risks, cedar is similarly ineffective at repelling pests. Like mothballs, cedar oil, chips, and other wooden items need to give off fumes in high concentrations to kill and ward off insects, so it works best in air-tight boxes and other enclosed spaces. Over time, though, cedar loses its potency, offering little protection against mature moths and carpet beetles.
Want a pest-management strategy that is more economical and safer for you, your property and the environment? The EPA explains that Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a comprehensive pest management strategy that is your safest and most effective option for controlling the insects and rodents that may enter your home and damage your clothing items. Instead of relying on broad-based treatments and dangerous chemicals, it hinges on knowing “the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment” to produce results.
This method relies on the steps outlined above as the foundation of its strategy, so it can be more of a process than you may have expected. However. when all of the IPM steps are followed, the results speak for themselves. The great part about this technique is that it can be applied to any home, anywhere in the country. If you’re concerned with protecting the wardrobe you’ve spent years and thousands of dollars building, as well as your health, it pays to invest a little more time and effort in these strategies.