Depending on the time of year, insect damage ranges from the second to the fifth most common consumer problem related to clothing. Moth larvae, carpet beetles, and silverfish are the top three culprits when it comes to fabric damage.
Direct Insect Damage
Insects that feed directly on the fabric cause direct damage. Bugs are especially attracted to food stains and body oil.
Indirect Insect Damage
Insects that feed on spilled food or perspiration cause indirect damage. Bugs causing indirect damage generally leave "trails" on the fabric surface, but will not create holes in the fabric.
Why Does Insect Damage Happen?
Because clothes are usually stored in dark, warm places, insects and their larvae have a wonderful opportunity to feed undisturbed. A warm, moist location is the ideal growing condition for insects. Most damage occurs during the larval stage of the insects' growth. The adult insects gravitate toward food sources (fabrics with remnants of soil and stains) and warm and moist areas. Avoid storing clothing in garages, basements, and attics.
If you suspect insect damage, inspect your garments for holes. Hold each garment against a light source, and then gently stretch the fabric to make any holes visible. Insect damage includes actual holes, moth eggs (small, white grain-like granules), and larvae.
If You Find Evidence
- Remove everything in the infested area
- Vacuum the entire house
- Wash all areas of the infested area
- Spray the infested area with bug spray
- Launder or dry clean all clothing
- Contact a reputable pest control company
- Use traps
- Practice good housekeeping: Vacuum frequently and thoroughly. Make sure to clean dusty windowsills. Dust and deceased insect accumulation can be a favorite hangout for carpet beetles. Pet hair is also a favorite food source for bugs.
- Do a deep cleaning of your house at least two times per year.
- Periodically remove items from your closets and drawers and vacuum the area.
- Don't hang onto wool garments unless you absolutely have to.
- Brush clothing regularly.