What Dangers Are Lurking In Your Closets?

There could be some very real monsters hiding out in your home, compromising your health. Find out more.

A healthy closet contributes to a healthy home and lifestyle. Closets are notorious for harboring mold, mildew, and clothes moths and larvae, which not only affect the condition of our clothes, but the overall quality of the air we breathe indoors.

So how can you combat these “monsters” lurking among your things? Our tips help you identify those hidden dangers and toxins and send them packing!

Protecting Against Moth Damage
Springtime means it’s time to pack away winter sweaters, camel hair blazers, and other bulky woolen articles of clothing and blankets. Unfortunately, once packed away, they become fodder for clothes moth and beetle larvae that thrive in dark places. They enjoy munching on your clothing, especially if they contain food spills or other attractive scents. Moths and moth larvae prefer wool or other animal fibers but they are known to eat the finish on silk garments, and will damage synthetic garments when dirt or stains are present. And even one spot of moth damage can ruin the appearance of any garment.

Mothball products, including cakes, crystals, tablets, bars and flakes, are pesticides that can be harmful to humans and animals alike. They contain either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which have harmful health effects when the vapors are released. Exposure to these fumigant chemicals can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and breathing difficulties. Prolonged exposure can lead to kidney failure.

To safely protect against moth damage and add a fresh scent to clothing items and linen drawers, tuck a cedar sachet inside a chest or airtight storage container.  Be sure clothes are free of stains before storing in containers or storage chests.

If you prefer not to pack away winter clothing, line the walls in the closets where you store wool blankets and wool garments with a thin layer of Eastern red cedar paneling. Eastern red cedar is aromatic and a safe, natural moth deterrent, making it the ideal lumber to use in clothes closets. It contains natural oils that kill clothes-moth larvae. Aromatic cedar paneling is available in home improvement centers and is well worth the effort of installing. For best moth prevention results, do not apply a stain or polyurethane to the cedar.

Keep in mind, not all cedars are created equal, and some aren’t as potent. Western cedar may deter some insects, but it’s not as effective in protecting against clothes moth infestations and damage.

Healthy Closet Tips:

  • Cedar coat hangers are available in home improvement stores and should be used when hanging woolen garments in your closet.
  • If you live in an older home with existing cedar closets, rejuvenate the cedar scent by lightly sanding the cedar walls and shelves with fine sandpaper.
  • To prevent mildew formation in your closets, provide adequate air circulation. Don’t overcrowd your closet. Install vented closet doors or leave the doors slightly open an hour or so each day. During humid summer months or in basement rooms use a dehumidifier when necessary.
  • Before bringing dry-cleaned clothes into your home, remove the plastic bag and air garments outside for at least an hour on your carport, porch, or in the garage with the door open. This will prevent you from breathing in the dangerous fumes from the toxic, dry cleaning chemicals. The stain remover, perchloroethylene used in dry-cleaning has been shown to be a human carcinogen, and can damage the liver and nervous system.
  • Wash all garments before hanging in the closet or storing to kill clothes moth eggs.
  • Clothes moths breed in undisturbed areas containing lint, feathers and pet or human hair. Vacuum furniture, closets and drawers to remove existing infestations. Dispose vacuum bag promptly outside. Clothes hanging in closets or drawers, if not worn regularly, should be placed in the dryer or sun once or twice a month to destroy larvae. Shake the clothes out or brush them to dislodge remaining eggs and larvae before returning them to the drawer or closet. Feather pillows and hats adorned with feathers should be stored in airtight containers when not in regular use.
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Deborah Tukua

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

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Edna wear a belt with your pants, the holes are caused by rubbing against the stiff part of the pant closer


I’ve had the same problem with little holes in the same exact area! I finally figured out it was done by my little Yorkie’s sharp nails when I would pick her up! Do you have a dog or cat with sharp claws?


Sorry for the misspellings, my Kindle constantly changes words on me…


Maybe you can use some pie essential oil Citronella. I have used this in the summer to keep bugs off of me. Get s spray bottle, fill with filtered water and about twenty drops of the oil and shake and spray your cloths down and the closet.

Really I think the best thing for you to do is to buy the Sterlite storage bins that go bust you bed. The have tops that keep the bin enclosed. Put the type of clothing in there that you usually have trouble wit and as tore your clothing under the bed. It is not that hard to take them out on a daily basis and to put them back in. .

On second thought, I wouldn’t spray down your clothing it might leave some oil on it, but put the oil on cotton balls in the bin with the clothing and in the closet…you can also buy Cedarwood essential oil and use it too, it is much more effective.. Just make sure you buy pure aromatherapy from the health food store. No scents or perfumes with the scent in it.

Good luck, it Must be hard to keep buying clothing….

wanda Grubbs

Edna I dont have a pest problem, any more, not since I started using diatomaceous earth, I was amazed how well it combated my problems here. But I also use alot of cedar products when it comes to storing clothing, and in my closets!

wanda Grubbs

Edna, go on line and google diatomaceous earth, check it out!

Aileen Palumbo

I have found this same problem with blouses several years ago and discovered the culprit to be the belt zippers on my jeans. Since I have gotten rid of that particular brand of jean I no longer have any holes in my shirts ect. . Hope this helps.

Rosia Morrison

I have never herd this before . This is very Good information. Thank you very much .
Rosia Morrison


I am going crazy something is only eating my clothes. It is always in the same place. On my belly near the navel area. Eating my cashmere, wool, t shirts all cotton. I have had The Orkin Man in he says it is carpet Beatles, but we have no carpets. I have washed everything I own ….have cleaned the closets and drawers first with Javex……Then rinsed then sprayed lavender ….then put cloves and bay leaves in and also cedar oil. I have cedar strips in the closet as well. We thought we got it all but about 2 months again the holes. I did throw out everything that had holes eaten before.
I have now done this process 4 times in the las 8 months.
HELP I cannot afford to keep throwing out my new clothes. I now have most everything in garment bags and I keep the closet door open all the time. I have found nothing, no carcass of anything nothing flying around. Oh yes I als o have those tents in the closet and drawers.
One person said it was my countertop putting holes in my clothes, I now wear a apron all the time. Another said I have fungus in my navel. I have always showered every day and I clean my navel with rubbing alcohol every day.
What else can I do except move….the house is brand new when we moved in and my house is very clean. I do not known where to turn I had also had another bug company in and they said they could not help me?

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