How to moth proof clothes safely

Before storing clothing made of wool or other animal fiber, launder or dry-clean it to destroy moth eggs that will hatch into small fur-and fiber-eating worms. A more time consuming and less effective method is to air garments in the sun, shake them vigorously, and brush them well on both sides, turning out pockets, seams, and linings. However, soft or napped fabrics are still likely to harbor moth eggs after this treatment.

Store cleaned clothes in a cool place in sturdy cardboard boxes, plastic garment bags with zippered closings, or clean trash cans with tight lids. Garments on hangers may be wrapped in several layers of newspapers, with all openings sealed with strong tape. Sprinkle naphthalene flakes or paradichlorobenzene crystals inside the containers, following the directions on the label, or use cakes of moth repellent. Cedar chests and closets will keep out moths only if they have no gaps or open seams and if the cedar is at least 3/4 inch thick. Leather and fur garments need to “breathe,” so don’t store them in airtight containers.

If you can spare an entire closet for storage, prepare the space by vacuuming thoroughly, especially in floor cracks and wall crevices. Distribute moth repellent according to directions, using about 2 pounds for an average-size closet. Place some repellent in a container near the ceiling so that the vapors will settle over the clothes. Seal the closet door with weather stripping. Do not use a bedroom closet for mothproofing; escaping vapors can be harmful.

Caution: Mothballs and flakes are poisonous. Do not scatter them where children or pets can get at them.

Professional clothes storage

If you are short of storage space, you can store your clothing with a dry cleaner you know and trust. Ask for a signed receipt and a contract stating the full price of cleaning and storage. Keep a detailed list of all stored garments, including the condition they are in when they leave your home.