Have you ever picked up your cleaning from your dry cleaner,
and when you looked at your garments there were some holes in
it that weren't there before?
There are two types of insect damage: direct and
indirect. Direct damage is caused by a group of insects
feeding directly on a fabric. Indirect damage to a
fabric is caused when insects feed on spilled food or
perspiration on the fabric. Direct damage occurs on
fabrics containing natural, cellulose, or animal fibers,
or even on intimate blends of wool/synthetic fibers.
Indirect damage can occur on fabrics made from
synthetic or natural fibers.
Insect damage appears in the form of holes,
burrows, or trails on a fabric’s surface. Holes and
burrows are more typical of direct damage, while
trails are indicative of indirect damage. Very often
trails of damage follow the direction of a food or
beverage spill. In the case of napped fabrics, insects
may only eat the nap that contains the food substance
and spare the base fabric.
Insect damage is often not noticeable until the article is
dry cleaned or washed and weakened fibers are flushed away.
Insect damage most likely occurs in dark, warm
places where insect larvae feed undisturbed on
fabrics. The damage is actually caused by insects
in the larval stage, which is when they consume
the largest amount of food
Based on the type of fabrics or food substances insects
are attracted to, they fall into two groups. The first one
eats the fabric directly. This group includes webbing
clothes moths, casemaking cloth moths, black carpet
and furniture beetles, and sometimes termites. They
attack wool, mohair, natural bristles, fur, feathers, and
down. Interestingly, research studies demonstrate that
not only wool but also intimate wool/synthetic and
wool/cotton blends can be extensively damaged by
these insects. The studies found that among various
blends, the greatest damage by webbing clothes moths,
black carpet beetles, and furniture beetles was done on
35/65 wool/polyester fabrics, and the least damage
occurred on 30/35/35 wool/acrylic/polyester fabrics.
Therefore, the use of wool/synthetic blend fabrics may
lull many into a false sense of security, because they
believe that insects do not attack fabrics containing
The second group of insects, comprised of silverfish,
crickets, beetles, and roaches are attracted by
food, perspiration, beverage spills, and starch. Silverfish,
especially, feed on natural starches and
glues but do little or no damage to the fabric. These
insects cause indirect damage.
Methods of Prevention
Several methods of preventing insect damage
include: cleaning, storing only clean garments,
using mothballs and cedar chests, and mothproofing.
Cleaning helps prevent the insects from turning
the garment into their habitat. Storing clean
garments only, deters the infestation of insects.
Mothballs, also called paradichlorobenzene, do
not kill larvae or insects unless the area is enclosed
so that the odor given off is at high concentrations.
At lower concentrations, the offensive odor functions
as a repellent so insects tend to stay away.
Storing items in a cedar chest is another method
of protecting clean garments. The chest should be
airtight and the door kept closed at all times. The
strong cedar scent tends to repel insects, but it is
the air tightness of the chest that protects the
stored garments from insect infestation or damage.
If you have any questions on moth hole or insect damage contact
Jay Dee Cleaners at 216-731-7060