Traditionally clothes that are meant to be stored for a long time are packed in closets and clothes chests with mothballs to protect the clothing from moth larvae and mold. One of the most effective moth and mold repellents are mothballs. Mothballs are small balls made from a combination of deodorant and pesticide. Previously the main ingredient in mothballs was naphthalene, which is highly flammable. Recent pesticides used in mothballs are camphor and 1.4-dichlorobenzene. Mothballs may be effective but the residual smell these pesticides leave on clothing are irritating and quite toxic when inhaled. The smell can be very unpleasant and somehow evocative of clothing that had been passed between generations.
There are natural alternatives that you can use to protect clothing from the moth larvae. Check them out.
- Cedar balls are very effective as moth repellant. These should be placed in the wrapper and plastic bags that will be used to store the clothes, especially woolen ones. The clothing should be very clean and thoroughly dried before you put them in storage.
- You can also make sachets of cedar shavings. Buy a block of cedar wood and use a wood planer to make cedar shavings. Make small pouches make of silk or any tightly woven fabric and place the shavings inside. Seal the top of the fabric sachets and include inside the zip lock bags and cloth wrapper or hang then inside the closets. Place some sachets around clothes chests for additional protection. If you cannot get cedar shavings, use wood shavings used in potpourri mixes and add the essential oil of cedar.
- You can also make herb sachets using herbs and flowers that are proven as moth repellants. A recipe for an herb sachet is a mix of two ounces each of rosemary and mint, one ounce each of ginseng and dried thyme, and eight ounces of whole cloves. These ingredients should be thoroughly mixed before being place in silk sachets and sealed.
- You can also make a mixture of dried lavender flowers, dried lemon peel, tansy and sweet woodruff. These ingredients have moth-repelling properties. Yu can use silk or tightly woven cloth sachets or buy empty tea bags from health food stores.
- If you have discovered moths in clothing, make a moth spray from a combination of one-half gallon of water, one-fourth cup of neem oil and a few drops of castile soap. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and use it as an anti–moth spray. You can also place the clothing inside the freezer for two days to kill the moth larvae.
- Another mothball alternative that you can prepare is a mix of five drops of lavender oil, one-fourth cup each of dried rosemary and southernwood and one-half cup of cedar shavings and place them in cloth sachets.
To ensure the effectiveness of these natural mothball alternatives, store clothing in airtight plastic containers together with the moth repellant sachets. Clothes should be air and sun dried before storage. Use acid-free paper liners for delicate clothing to prevent direct contact with the anti-moth sachets and the fabric.