A Wing and a Prayer

As many of us will be undergoing annual Spring cleaning at this time of year, its the perfect time to take precautionary measures against textiles' most hated pests: moths...

Moth infestation. These are two words that strike terror into the heart of every textile collector. As anyone who has ever struggled to rid themselves of the creatures will tell you, prevention is infinitely better than the battle for a cure. Restoring moth damage can be very expensive. As a general rule of thumb, if the damage is one cm square, the area to be restored will be at least double. Moths do not just eat a clean hole but graze on the surrounding area, making the pile on a carpet lower and the threads in a textile weaker.

What preventative measures can be taken? Annual spring cleaning helps to catch moths before their destructive breeding season. This is traditionally March through to October, but with increasingly mild winters and central heating it is becoming longer. The 'clean' must be vigorous and include changing, airing or cleaning the sofa covers, curtains and beating any carpets that one might have. Dark, undisturbed areas are moth friendly environments; check every place where textiles are hung or kept. Lift and move all furniture, clean underneath and wherever possible take the textile outside to air. Always remove any areas of ingrained dirt or food, and continuously check for moth eggs.

Look for a small white trail, gluey in substance with tiny eggs inside. Freezing temperatures, extreme heat and ultraviolet light are the only ways to kill the eggs. Chemicals used in most moth removal substances have been banned on the domestic market. Should you find any eggs, immediately take the item outside, brush out or remove and if possible freeze the item. Do not put items in the oven or microwave, for obvious reasons!

Daily lifestyle precautions are the first line of defence against infestation. Sweeter smelling than moth balls and more ecologically sound, lavender bags, cedar blocks or burning oils can repel fainthearted moths. But act quickly, contain the article and always contact a specialist.

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