Experienced Area Rug Cleaner In Syracuse, NY Offers Advice About Moths


Myth—I only need to worry about moths if my furnishings are made of wool.  In past years, textile-eating moths were common, due to the large amount of wool fibers in clothing and home furnishings. The popularity and widespread use of synthetic fibers has led to the incorrect assumption that damage from these insects is a thing of the past.

An important fact to remember about moths is they can digest protein fibers such as wool, silk, and specialty hair fibers, but these insects will also attack synthetic fibers if they contain protein substances. This means carpetsrugs, draperies, and upholstered furniture made from nylon, acrylic, polyester, acetate and other synthetics can be damaged if they contain food or beverage stains, blood, urine, perspiration or other sources of nutritional protein.

An interesting fact about these textile-eating moths is that unlike other varieties, they are not attracted to bright lights and tend to seek darker areas or dim light. This makes it very difficult to detect them in dark closets and drawers. It is most likely that you will notice fabric damage or larvae before you see the moths themselves.

How to Prevent Moths?

One of the major hurdles in preventing damage is consumer education about moths. People are home less often than ever before. They have less time to care for their rugs and carpets (for example, vacuuming) and even less to inspect dark places such as under furniture, etc. Rugs, carpets, and wool clothing and wall hangings get dirty and they are just lying and hanging targets.

The most effective way to prevent a moth infestation and inhibit growth is to keep textile furnishings clean. Spills should be removed immediately. Carpet, rugs, draperies, upholstered furniture, etc., should be brushed or vacuumed regularly, as insects do not generally attack clean materials.

It is especially important, when preparing rugs for long term storage (6 months to several years), that they be kept safe from infestation. Never attempt to store a dirty rug.

At ABC, we are always concerned about moths for our customers and our cleaning of wool rugs includes a final rinse which rends the wool unappetizing to these creatures. This 'retardant' feature, combined with a thoroughly cleaned rug will almost completely guarantee prevention of damage during storage.

How Do We Get Rid of These Moths?

There is controversy when it comes to getting rid of these creatures. Different books have cited everything from placing an infested rug in the sun for a few hours to rolling them up and placing them in a cavernous freezer. The infestation must be dealt with quickly and have a solution to the problem that is 100% effective.

What Method is Most Effective?

A thorough professional treatment and cleaning is the best way to prevent further damage to rugs.  The treatment will destroy the larvae and the eggs.  The rug will then be cleaned to remove any residue and dried thoroughly in our cleaning plant.  As mentioned above, the final rinse will serve as a retardant to the moths.  We also have a special moth retardation treatment available, if desired.  Our repair department can patch or reweave holes damaged by moths as well.

Unfortunately, this does not address the possibility that larvae may move from one rug to another. What this means is that it is necessary to find and kill not only the adults but their larvae and their eggs even before the infected rug is cleaned.  It may be necessary to call a professional exterminator if a moth infestation has occurred in your home.

Moth Balls, Flakes, and Crystals?

Be aware that these compounds (paradicholorobenzene or naphthalene) are ineffective in control of these insects for rugs and other furnishings. (Cedar scent is also useless.)

These materials act only as a minor repellent. They do not kill the larvae or eggs, and the naphthalene odor can be unpleasant and extremely difficult to remove.

Mothballs can be especially dangerous if accidentally eaten, especially by young children.  In general, it is recommended mothballs should not be used by homeowners under any circumstances. If they continue to be used, they should only be used in small amounts and items around them should be thoroughly cleaned.

The ingredients in mothballs can produce harmful effects when they enter your system through inhalation. Irritation to nose, throat and lungs, headache, confusion, excitement or depression and liver and kidney damage can result from exposure to the vapors over a long period of time.

The little white balls that contain naphthalene are of special concern because naphthalene can promote a breakdown of red blood cells resulting in hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia in mild form may cause only fatigue. In more severe cases, it can cause acute kidney failure.

Of course, only high concentrations of these ingredients can cause any of these effects. Such concentrations are found when vapors are absorbed by clothes or rugs that are stored or kept in closed areas with poor ventilation.

Poisonings have been reported following dressing of infants in clothing that was stored with naphthalene mothballs, suggesting that absorption of naphthalene may occur through the skin.

Moth balls should be taken to a licensed hazardous waste handler to be disposed of or saved for a professional household hazardous waste collection program.

Concerned About Moths?How You Can Protect Your Furnishings from Moth Infestation

The best way to prevent an infestation is periodic inspection of rugs, whether stored or not, as well as the carpets and wool, silk, and cotton textiles in your home.

Be sure to check underneath furniture and behind wall hangings as well. At the first sign of a problem, please call our office at 607-272-1566 if you have any questions about moths.  You may also contact us by clicking here. We are prepared to help you in any way we can.  Please feel free to fill out the form below, if you prefer, and we will contact you.

If you are interested in learning even more about moths, another article on this website, More About Moths, offers more specific information on these wool-eating insects.  


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