It goes without saying that moths are probably the most evil creature in the world when it comes to fashion. I’ve lost a great deal of coats and sweaters to moths, and I hate that they always go for the most expensive stuff, like cashmere. What’s even worse is that they love to eat fur.
I once went into a great furrier in London with a little fur blazer that was shedding. The furrier politely asked me to remove the jacket from the premises, and suggested I throw it away, as it was infested with moths. I sadly went outside and shoved in into a garbage can. Very depressing.
A moth eaten fur coat. Sob!
After losing a fair number of garments to moths, I began to be very vigilant with my closets. I spray cedarwood oil in the closet (away form the clothes), or place cedarwood oil-soaked cotton balls in the corners of my closets and drawers. I freeze all my knitwear in September or October (48 hours in a freezer should kill all the moth eggs, and keep your sweaters safe for another year.) I also tend to give my closet contents a good shake as frequently as possible and I try not to stuff them too full, so that no critters can make themselves comfortable in there. Lavender can also be a great moth deterrent.
When it comes to moths and fur, there are a few things you need to know. Here’s what Walter, the Master Furrier from Pappas Furs, told me about what you should do if you catch one of those hideous critters trying to make a meal of your favourite mink jacket.
A sign of moths is if the fur is shedding. The hairs will come loose from the leather, and fall out. Don’t confuse shedding with breakage. Delicate furs, like rabbit and chinchilla, are prone to breakage with heavy wear. And don’t become overly paranoid about shedding, some furs will shed a little. My first moth experience in a fur was the above mentioned blazer, and the fur was coming out in clumps. It was beyond shedding.
Don't let moths eat your precious furs.
Isolate the infested garment. And keep in mind that the moths may have moved onto your other clothes as well. Now it is time to sort out your house. Fumigation is one solution, but I’ve dealt with moth problems by simply cleaning and/or killing the moths on my clothes, washing and/or freezing everything, and then bleach cleaning the entire closet like a madwoman, followed by an overdose of cedarwood or lavender, to keep them away.
Fur, unlike wool and cashmere, cannot be frozen to kills the eggs, as that will ruin the leather. Unfortunately, the only way to remove the moths is to get a professional fur cleaning. If it is a jacket you bought for $50 from a vintage store, you may want to consider getting rid of it, instead of cleaning, but that is of course your choice.
The aforementioned London furrier, after he let me back into his studio once I had discarded the moth-ridden coat, showed me a $80,000 Russian sable coat that had been moth infested. He has removed the lining and all the “dead” fur, and cleaned it. What was hanging were the scraps of what was once a sublime fur coat. About a third of the coat had been consumed by the moths. He was going to fix it by replacing the skins he had removed. Not only was it a huge job, but I imagine it was quite expensive too. And sad.
Thanks to Walter from Pappas Furs in Vancouver, who kindly supplied me with this useful moth tips.
Images from Beautifully Canadian, except moth-eaten fur coat from here.