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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!

Protect Stored Winter Clothing From Insect Damage

submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appeared in the March 1, 2004 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

As spring and summer approach, it's important to properly store winter clothing and blankets to protect the items from insect damage.

The worst thing to do is leave winter clothes hanging in a closet during the summer, when insects are most active. Insects also like to be in hidden places, so if the closet is too full insects can easily hide in the clothing folds. Larvae of carpet beetles and clothes moths are major pests as fabrics and substances of animal origin are major components in their diet.

The most common Nebraska insects that damage clothing are carpet beetles. These beetles are more resistant to low temperatures and low humidity of the northern states. Adult carpet beetles are small and oval, have knobbed antennae and scales or hairs present on their body. These beetles can damage woolen fabrics and rugs, fur, silk and leather by making tiny pinholes in the fabric.

Clothes are more likely to be damaged by insects if they have food or perspiration stains, so before packing any clothing or blankets make sure they have been washed or dry-cleaned. Store clothing and blankets in a dark, cool, well-ventilated place such as a dark closet. Attics are too warm, basements may be musty and garages are easily accessible to insects.

Store clothing in air-tight containers such as plastic tubs, plastic sweater boxes or a cedar chest. Leather, fur or wool should not be stored in plastic bags.

Two varieties of moth crystals, paradichlorobenzene and naphathlene, also can help repel insects. Paradichlorobenzene is the best choice because as the chemical evaporates, the vapor kills carpet beetles. Check storage boxes during the summer because moth crystals might need to be replenished before unpacking the clothing in the fall.

For more information refer to the Insects, Spiders, Mice and more web site

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