Holes in Clothes

Have you ever had one of those days when you opened your closet, pulled out your favorite sweater, and found a bunch of little holes in it?

Those tiny tears weren’t there before, and you don’t remember abusing the sweater, so why is it suddenly damaged beyond the point of being presentable in public?

And, more importantly, how can you keep this from happening again?

What causes holes in clothes?

Often, when you suddenly discover that the fabric in your clothes is breathing better than you want it to, your outfit’s new ventilation system can be blamed on your local bug population.

Here are some of the insects that might be chewing through your wardrobe and creating holes in clothes:


Moths are often the first suspect when you first see holes in clothes in your wardrobe. Adult moths don’t have mouths, but a female moth can lay 50 to 1,000 eggs at a time, and the larvae feed on materials that contain keratin.

One of the frequent culprits in cases of wardrobe wreckage is the Case Bearing Clothes Moth. The adult moths are light brown with darker brown speckles, fuzzy heads, and long, non-furry antennae.

Their larvae carry a flattened case about a 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch long, and range in color from brown to white. They have dark heads, and semitranslucent bodies through which their darker insides are partly visible.

Another candidate is the webbing clothes moth, which can be brown, grey or gold, and ranges from 1/5 of an inch to 1/3 of an inch long.

Moth eggs are oval, ivory, and about 1/24-inch long. Once laid, the eggs hatch within four to ten days, depending on the temperature and humidity.

Crickets, termites, and cockroaches

These bugs don’t directly target fabric, but they sometimes damage it by accident while trying to eat food, beverage, laundry starch and body soil stains out of it. Adding insult to injury, they sometimes poop where they eat, which can stain clothes even further.

That being the case, it’s best not to leave soiled clothes where cockroaches, termites or crickets can get at them.

 Silverfish and Firebrats can cause holes in clothes

These carrot-shaped crawlers are closely related, with long bodies, curved antennae, and hard-looking shells.

They have six legs that protrude from their thorax, as well as short leg-like palps that stick out of their heads, and long antennae-like cerci extending from either side of their rear ends.

Silverfish are, as their name implies, silver, while firebrats are mottled silver and brown. Both are around 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch long. They’re particularly fond of cotton, linen, rayon, and items that are starched, soiled or stained.

Carpet beetles and holes in clothes

As with moths, carpet beetles don’t eat fabric as adults but use it as a food source for their offspring.

They’re usually found on fabric and in carpets, but can also live in dark crevices like air ducts and behind baseboards.

What types of clothing are most susceptible to moths?

Moths primarily feed on clothes made from animal fibers, such as wool, flannel, cashmere, silk, angora or fur, that contain keratin.

Since synthetic and cotton fabrics don’t contain keratin, they’re safe, unless they’re blended with an animal fiber or soiled with something that the larvae might be tempted to chew out of the fabric.

Carpet beetles can create holes in clothes

brown or black bristles. Others have black bodies and brownish legs, and larvae that taper from the head to the rear and range in color from light yellow to dark brown.

Carpet beetle eggs are soft and either white or cream colored and are laid in batches containing 20 to 100 eggs. The eggs are 0.08 to 0.02 inches long, oval-shaped, and distinguished by spinelike projections at one end.

Carpet beetles deposit their eggs on furniture, clothing, and carpets, as well as in cracks in the flooring. Most species can produce four generations in a single year, but the black variety only produces one per year.

What should you do if you find holes in clothes in your closet?

First, check the article of clothing and its surroundings for beetle or moth eggs and larvae, and for crickets, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, and firebrats.

To kill the invaders, first vacuum the area thoroughly, including all the crevices that could shield them from your extermination attempt. Put the affected clothes and all nearby fabrics in plastic bags and put them in the freezer for at least 48 hours, or run them through the washer to drown the pests.

As much as possible, avoid leaving soiled clothing lying around, as this will attract nibblers that wouldn’t normally bite clothes, and check under your furniture periodically to make sure species like carpet beetles haven’t started breeding and snacking on your carpet while you weren’t looking.

Want to make sure there’ll be no more holes in your clothes?

If you have a moth infestation, or some other variety of clothes-chomping pest has gotten into your house, you might need professional help to get rid of it.

If you want to keep your carpet threads in your carpets, and to know that there will be no holes in your clothing when it’s time to wear it, visit this page to get a free inspection and quote from our pest control experts today!

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