Moths are one of my biggest fears in this business. The fabrics are exquisite and come with a justified price-tag. Understandably, I don't want this to go up in smoke or be eaten up by an army of semi-visible larvae. So, imagine my horror when I discovered the loft was infested with moths after I got back from my holiday. Fortunately for me, the loft has lots of stuff that's not mine, (it's a little complicated ... though not so fortunate for those of my family who store things in my loft). Quite a lot of it is my grandmother's clothes (some lovely tweeds in there too as well as furnishings). My tweeds, you'll be glad to hear, are in the studio and at my tailor.
I gather that people thought clothes moths had died out. This was thanks to 70's fashion: the Brave New World of synthetic fibres. Moths are attracted to wool and fur, not nylon and polyester. However, since the renaissance of natural fibres (in particular cashmere & wool) coupled with the New Dawn that is globalisation, there has been a pandemic of clothes moths.
The first thing I did was to bring everything out, shook it in the sunshine and laid it on the lawn. Thankfully it was a gloriously sunny day. Moths & their eggs can't bear the sunshine. I washed what was washable and the woollens have been going into the freezer in batches. Dry cleaning also kills eggs as well as a week or so in the deep freeze. I've given the loft a good old clean.
I had done a bit of research on moths as I give my customers advice on such matters. I discovered that rather like dieting, it's more of a lifestyle thing. There is no one quick fix cure-all, you just have to be constantly vigilant. I discovered that traditional moth-balls are a no-no. They gradually kill moths, but don't eradicate them entirely. Also, they are really rather dodgy. They are toxic to everyone but especially children and pets so they aren't recommended. If you've been infested you have to clean everything out very carefully, wash, dry-clean or freeze as above. Then you have to make sure you store everything clean (they are attracted to dirt & sweat) in an airtight environment and make sure moths don't get there. There are a number of natural moth deterrents such as lavender & other scented items that you should hang in your cupboards. You need to make sure you replace these every 3-6 months.
Another method (I'd recommend all three: clean, deter and trap) is to use a moth trap. My friend Rue told me about Sisi Biocare who distribute them from their shop conveniently opposite The Hepsibah Gallery on Brackenbury Road. Apparently these are frightfully popular in Germany. I'm thinking seriously of stocking some of these moth traps and selling them via my website. Also, in my virtual wanderings I discovered these methods are used in organic cotton growing and fruit cultivation. They are used instead of expensive and damaging pesticides. It sounded rather fantastic. Basically, they are poison-free (unlike most moth repellents & killers). It's simply a hormone called pheremone which attracts the male moth and he gets stuck. Well, in one situation I discovered in India, they trap the moths but don't kill them (isn't that nice?). These ones, unfortunately, do kills the males. The males can't mate so the females can't lay eggs. Also, you get to see how much of a problem you've got. So I put some in my studio and store room and I didn't get too many sticking to the device.
So this is my general lifestyle advice for a moth-free life:
-- keep your cupboards and carpets nice and clean
-- store clothes clean and in airtight environments
-- invest in a few strategically placed moth traps and scented things that deter moths: lavender (best because it's local, but cedarwood, patchouli are also known to deter)
-- check regularly to see it's all ok
-- clean any new or second-hand clothes. One reason for the pandemic is the transportation of huge volumes of clothes.
And if you've been infested:
-- pull it out and shake it outside if you can especially if sunny
-- clean carpets well (lift the edges) and cupboards
-- wash everything you can, though this won't kill eggs implanted on wool. Eggs will implant on cotton and synthetics only if there is dirt or sweat.
-- dry clean or freeze (for a week) woollens, furs & silks - that is the only way of killing the eggs
-- store everything clean again in airtight bags
-- throw out the vacuum bag you used and anything that may be carrying eggs.
-- get your prevention regime in place and keep an eye on any stray moths that you've missed
So, yes it's a little like dieting. You have to be forever vigilant!