Does Lavender Get Rid Of Moths?
Many old-fashioned strategies people tend to employ carry some weight of truth to their efficacy, but many of the methods provide more legend than fact. You may have heard, for instance, that pressure points can help lower blood pressure or relieve headaches. Or perhaps that drinking water before meals will help you lose weight. While many people brush off these things as old wives’ tales or unreasonable advice pieces, they actually do root in reality. One such strategy employs lavender to combat destructive moth activity in our wardrobes. So let’s find out how we can use lavender to get rid of moths.
Why Do Moths Eat Clothes?
Believe it or not, while you may find adult moths dead on your closet floor, it’s not they that warrant concern, but rather their larvae, as they are the only ones who have mouths and are therefore responsible for eating holes in clothes. But female moths who lay a significant number of eggs (could be up to as many as a thousand) on the clothing, and the larvae feed on clothes from animal fabrics (such as cashmere, wool, fur, or silk), all of which contain keratin which is a necessity of the moth larvae diet. Blended or synthetic fabrics are safe, however, do not contain keratin.
Preservation of clothing from pest infestations is one of the very common categories that people tend to find interesting bits of helpful information over time. There are many ‘tips’ offered, but only some of them have any basis in scientific plausibility, and even less than that prove to actually be highly effective. However, some stand up to scientific examination, if given the chance to be properly explored and do so for very good reason.
We enjoy our clothes and we often invest heavily in purchasing quality stuff, so the last thing we need is for them to be damaged and destroyed by invasive pests. However, that is exactly what tends to happen to clothes, especially of the woolen variety as it tends to attract many undesirables in the form of moths.
While mothballs have been traditionally used to ward off moth infestations, which, in many instances results in destroyed clothing, there are some drawbacks to their usage. As their contents evaporate and expel a vapor poisonous to moths, they have triggered conversation within the scientific community which rang the alarms of concern about long-term human exposure to these same vapors.
The supposedly wondrous powers possessed by the lavender plant to ward off moths have prompted many people to hang small bags of dried lavender plants in their closets in an attempt to ward off moths. But is there any scientific basis for this approach to clothing protection? As it turns out, there is a chemical explanation for lavender’s effective properties, that carry the added benefit of not being toxic to humans.
Why Does Lavender Get Rid Of Moths?
Like any other plant on the planet, lavender has a particular chemical composition of compounds responsible for generating lavender’s unique scent. In trying to correlate the chemical makeup with its ability to dissuade moths from coming near, scientists determined that lavenders’ two primary aroma drivers were linalool, a compound commonly found in fragrances and personal hygiene products, and linalyl acetate. Linalool actually did show particular repelling properties during the research, just not on moths, but mosquitos. The rest of the components, including lavandulyl and lavandulol, also came up empty on moth repellent properties.
Over 300 compounds contribute, in one way or another, to what we recognize as the aroma of lavender, but just because many particles minorly contribute, does not mean that their contributions are not relevant in terms of moth repulsion. The previously mentioned compounds, along with several others belong to the terpene family, one that is known to have insecticidal properties, and which guard clothing otherwise vulnerable to moth infestation.
1,8-cineole and camphor, in particular, are compounds present in lavender that promote its moth averting attributes. These two chemical compositions exist in other plants too, including rosemary, though its efficacy as a moth repellent is weaker than that exuded by lavender.
Female moths are striving instinctually to give their offspring a healthy way to thrive and survive, so they will avoid depositing their eggs in any place they are genetically averted from, such as lavender-scented environments, keeping clothing safe from their infestation.
So Why Not Mothballs?
So why would one opt to go for lavender rather than the classic mothballs approach, a proven and effective combatant of moth invasiveness? While original mothballs used naphthalene, today’s versions utilize the compound 1,4-dichlorobenzene. In either case, the compounds slowly evaporate, releasing a gas that is toxic to moths. The problem with these compounds, however, is the recent concerns about prolonged human exposure to this same evaporating gas. This research has already led to the use of the compounds in standard mothballs expressing concerns, triggering multiple countries, including several in the EU, to ban their usage entirely. Lavender, however, is not known to have human health degrading effects, so it is a welcome substitute for traditional mothballs.
It’s important to keep in mind that, unlike other methods, lavender will not kill moths, just keep them at bay. While this old homemaker’s trick does the job very effectively, it does not chemically degrade moths, nor does it kill moth eggs or larvae. Therefore, multiple packets or applications of lavender are recommended to be used to garner the cumulative effect of keeping moths away.
If repelling moths with the use of lavender is to be maximally effective, there is a recommended set of actions that should be taken during application. First, empty the closet or drawer, then wipe it down and vacuum it thoroughly. You can even apply a light layer of lavender soap as an environmental layer of moth protection to the surroundings.
Keeping in mind that moths will gravitate toward clothing with any soil or biodegradable material, it’s a good idea to wash or dry clean the clothes that warrant concern. This can be done by washing with lavender laundry condition, which will result in lavender scent lingering on the clothes. When drying, lavender drying sheets can produce the same effect.
When clothes are stored, especially those hung in garment bags which act as another layer of moth protection, sprayed with lavender sheet spray. Additionally, the most common approach is to hang lavender packets (sachets) on the inside of the bag attached to the hanger that is holding the clothing item. The sachets can be made from cotton balls dipped in essential lavender oil inside of a lightly fitted bag that can let the aroma exude leaving your clothing storage smelling great, just not to moths.
Don’t neglect shoes either, as moths can be attracted to them as well. Any shoes not in regular use should be stored in shoe bags with a lavender sachet insert, or a lavender shoe stuffer.
So Does Lavender Get Rid Of Moths?
The answer is Yes, Lavender gets rid of moths!