Bug-Free Closet: 7 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Moth, Silverfish and More

One of the major challenges when maintaining closets is keeping the pests away from them. Even though closet pests rarely carry germs or disease, their presence can be a nuisance and bad news for your wardrobe. Nocturnal insects love the dark, confined spaces of a closet. They lay eggs on linens, clothes, and other fabrics stashed inside.

Bug-Free Closet: 7 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Moth, Silverfish and More

(Pixabay / homelaneinteriors)

Adult eggs and moths don’t harm the items, but larvae (or hatched eggs) feed on animal fabric like wool and fur. If using smelly mothballs and harsh pesticides hasn’t made much difference, then what methods can you use to bug-proof your closet? Here are a few tips on how to protect your closet and clothing from pest-related damage.

1. Clean your clothes

Clothing easily picks up hair, debris, perfumes and food stains that are attractive to pests. Cleaning your outfits is key to evicting the closet bugs. Wash and dry clean all the fabrics, and store freshly cleaned garments in airtight containers. Also, apply a mothproofing spray to discourage pests from hanging onto the clothes. For severe infections, vacuum the whole closet and dispose of the canister contents.

Note: Delicate items made of certain fabrics (wool, silk, etc.) aren’t machine washable. However, you can still kill the moths and larvae on them by dry cleaning the items at the hottest temperature permitted by the care label. Once done, shake out the items to eliminate any trapped moth cocoons or casings.

2. Store and freeze pest-infected items

If you find a pest-infected or a single damaged item in the closet, brush any visible pests into a dustpan with the help of a broom. Dispose of the remains outside, then take out the affected item from the closet. Inspect it thoroughly because it might still be salvageable. If it is, place it in a sealable plastic bag and keep it in the freezer for 24 hours. The ice-cold temperature will kill any present larvae. After 24 hours are up, take out the item, but keep it bagged until you’re ready to wash it.

3. Invest in a natural repellent

There are several natural repellents that will help keep silverfish, moths, carpet beetles, and other fabric-eating pests out of your closet. Effective ones are tansy, peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, pennyroyal, and cedar. Some family members and pets may be allergic to specific repellents, so make sure to do your research before making a buying decision. Most repellents come in the form of essential oil, which you can put on a cotton ball and wrap using a paper towel. That towel will then serve as a repellent in your closet.

4. Use cedar accessories

This is another handy tip that can help you get rid of pests in your closet. Cedar has a few ingredients that can kill fabric moths quickly. Some closet-specific accessories are built with cedar wood, such as cedar balls, cedar cloth hangers, and some other items. You can find these cedar accessories in home improvement shops. We advise that you spread some of these items inside your closet to fend off bugs.

5. Store fabrics in breathable bags

Certain fabrics, like cashmere, require space to breathe. If you store them in airtight plastic bags, they can discolor or degrade. A better option is to store them in acid-free garment bags so that they’re able to get the air they need as well as protection from most pests. For additional protection, you can consider placing acid-free tissue between the garment folds. Avoid storing sensitive fabrics in standard plastic bags as they can produce fumes that will give the fabrics a funky smell.

6. De-bug the closet and drawers

The best way to prevent widespread infiltration of bugs is to keep the areas where you store them dry and clean. Use a vacuum cleaner to eliminate debris and remains from the closet walls, floor and in-built rods or shelves. After you’re finished, get an odorless insecticide like Delta Dust Insecticide and an old paintbrush. Now apply the solution to shelf and baseboard edges, wall cracks or cervices, and below carpeting (if you have any) to kill any bugs that arrive in these areas in the future.

7. Prevent infections from recurring

It’s possible to prevent moths from returning by following good closet hygiene practices. These translate to:

  • Eliminating dead bugs, dust mites, and spiders from storage cardboard and hanger racks.
  • Vacuuming the closet’s shelves and clothes every two weeks to prevent dust, which attracts moths to the wardrobe.
  • Hanging in-season clothing instead of stacking it. Keep dresses and suits in organic garment bags.
  • Adding cedar accessories to thwart larvae (ex: cedar blocks or shavings in drawers).


Don’t let closet bugs damage your favorite outfits. Take the above steps to remove them from existing fabrics and prevent infestations in the future.

And if your closet design is the problem, consider custom closet organizers installed by a Seattle-area contractor. Sometimes better design and organization can make all the difference in keeping closet areas fresh and clean and discouraging unwanted pests.