How to Prevent Bugs That Eat Clothes

how to prevent bugs that eat clothes

Bugs are a necessary evil when it comes to the earth’s ecosystem. Some bugs eat other insects, decaying organic matter, animal feces, wood, and many other things. Insects could be considered as nature’s cleanup crew. When these bugs get into your house and begin to ravage your food stores or even your clothes, they become pests that have to be neutralized.

When you encounter bugs in your home, particularly in your closet or dresser, you may find that your clothes are on the menu; this is an immediate threat to your wardrobe and will need to be addressed sooner than later. Learning how to prevent bugs that eat clothes from infesting your home can save you the hassle and money it will take to replace damaged clothing.

Why Do Bugs Eat Clothes?

Bugs that eat clothes are only interested in the naturally occurring fibers found within them. These types of pests find nourishment in these fibers and typically won’t feed on synthetic materials. Another reason as to why they are attracted to clothing is the presence of body oils, food stains, and any other type of residue on the fabric that provides them with a meal; this is why you may find holes in synthetic clothing as well.

Common Bugs That Eat Clothes

Not all bugs eat clothing, but those that do are readily identifiable when you know what to look for. Becoming familiar with clothes eating bugs and being on the lookout will help you to protect your clothing from ruin. Let’s take an in-depth look at a few of the more common pests that eat clothing:

Clothes moths:

  • Adult clothes moths are not the culprit for the destruction of your clothes; it’s their larvae. Adult clothes moths invade your home in search of a suitable place to lay their eggs.
  • Adult clothes moths are roughly 1 centimeter in length and have a straw-like coloration. They are not attracted to light and tend to avoid lighted areas altogether. Their larvae are minuscule white grubs that are hardly ever seen unless they are observed on walls or moving across smooth floor surfaces.
  • Signs of clothes moth larvae are silken threads or cases, along with random holes eaten out of the material they have infested.
  • Clothes moth larvae typically feed on natural fibers such as wool, cotton, silk, fur, hair, feathers, and upholstery. Their menu also consists of dust, paper products, and lint.
  • Fully synthetic clothing is not susceptible to clothes moth larvae but may still be damaged if soiled with substances they may consider as food.

Carpet beetles

  • Though they are known to eat carpet, as their name suggests, carpet beetles can be detrimental to furnishings, fabrics, and clothing. As with clothes moths, adult carpet beetles aren’t the source of the damage; it’s their larvae.
  • Adult carpet beetles are round in shape, darkly colored, and measure around 4 millimeters in length. Their larvae are of a small elongated shape with stiff bristles extending from their backside and hair covering their bodies.
  • Signs of a carpet beetle invasion is the appearance of adults in window sills, shed skins of the larvae appearing in or on infested garments, and damage to clothing.
  • Carpet beetle larvae will feed on upholstery, cotton, silk, wool, hair, and feathers.


  • silverfish is an insect that is shaped like a carrot and is around 1 centimeter in length. Silverfish can cause significant damage at all stages of life.
  • Though their diet consists of many food items, they can also consume and damage carpet, clothing, curtains, or artwork containing natural fibers such as cotton, silk, wool, rayon fabrics, and paper.
  • Adult silverfish are silver in color, and their bodies are covered in scales. They have tail filaments and antennae that are long in comparison to their bodies.
  • They are hard to detect because they are nocturnal insects that avoid light. The most common sign of a silverfish infestation is that of finding them trapped in sinks.

Other bugs that damage clothing:

  • Crickets don’t eat clothing but may damage clothing that is soiled with substances that they consider to be food.
  • Termites are also known for damaging clothing when they are heavily infesting a home.

How to Prevent Bugs That Eat Clothing

Inspection of areas where fabric and clothes eating bugs are commonly found can help reduce the risk of them causing significant damage to your wardrobe. Wool seems to be the first material on the list when it comes to these types of bugs, so signs of damage to these materials is a good indicator of trouble. You should also check the carpet that is underneath or behind furniture near walk-in closets. You will want to have these areas vacuumed clean regularly.

Any furs, blankets, or wool clothing should be properly cleaned and stored in vacuum-sealed bags, airtight bags, or sealed containers between seasonal use. Mothballs, pest strips, or camphor can be used in areas where clothing is stored to deter pests from invading and causing damage. There are surface-sprays available that are designed for treating areas that may be susceptible to these types of pests as well. These sprays may need to be reapplied every two to three weeks or as required, to be fully effective.

Notable areas to spray that will be of benefit for deterring these pests are around loose molding, floor tiles, and crevices formed by shelving. Other locations to treat are door and window frames, closets, skirting boards, bookcases, and around pipes. There are also wettable insecticide powders. These can be applied to areas where these pests are prevalent. They typically last for up to three months at a time. No matter the type of products you are using to control these pests, you should always follow all included instructions.

If these methods have failed and you are still having issues with bugs eating your clothing, a professional pest control agency may be your best bet at eliminating the threat. Keeping these pests out of your home is the best way to keep them from wreaking havoc. Using screens when leaving doors and windows open can be a simple way to prevent a potentially costly infestation from ruining your favorite clothes. Learn what you can and be vigilant when it comes to protecting your home from destructive pests.


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